READ: Discounts for BYO coffee cups – here are the SA coffee shops that encourage you to reduce waste
We’ve all witnessed the mania unleashed following the untimely death of a household name, especially one cut down at the pinnacle of their popularity.
Typically, these tragic events completely side swipe us – we heard about the death of Prince via a breaking news ticker at the bottom of the TV screen while gulping down our morning flat white. Bowie’s passing was announced via a buzzing, glistening-eyed colleague in the break room over a 3 pm mocha.
You can see where we’re going here… what if coffee itself was the household name snuffed out at the peak of its popularity? How would we grieve? What warming brew would take the edge off our communal distress?
One thing’s for certain – the Scandinavian countries will completely lose the plot. The average Norwegian or Finn can guzzle through 10kg of coffee beans in a year. It would be quite the situational comedy. And Australians, who get through around 3kg a year each, are certainly not… ahem… bulletproof.
The alleged culprit, of course, is global warming.
In late 2016, Australia’s Climate Institute released a harrowing reality-check in the form of a report snappily titled, ‘A Brewing Storm’.
The report, commissioned by Fairtrade, noted that climate change and shifting rainfall patterns are not only providing horrible growing conditions for our coffee – they’re also providing a rather inconvenient boost to the pests and diseases that cripple yields.
So how bad is it? Well, consider that world coffee consumption is on track to grow by 50% by 2050. Over this same period, global coffee production is pegged to fall by 50 percent.
In fact, the situation is so bad that by 2080, wild coffee is likely to go completely extinct.
But the real tragedy doesn’t lie in the relatively mild inconvenience of us having to forego a heartening morning latte.
The real pain will take place in the ‘Bean Belt’ coffee producing regions of the globe, such as Tanzania, where coffee production has already fallen by 50 percent in the past 50 years.
For the rest of us, it’s more likely we will just have to face a future of expensive, crappy coffee. The much-loved Arabica coffee bean – the type most of us associate with quality flavour and aroma, is highly susceptible to environmental change and will likely be the first casualty.
That will leave us with a diminished supply of Robusta beans, which, as its name suggests, is more tolerant to environmental adversity. It’s also typically used to produce (gasp) instant coffee.
But perhaps we deserve to be taken down a peg or two. And while our great grandkids sip on their metallic, granulated morning cup of instant – let’s hope they are sparing a thought for the coffee growers we so took for granted, back when coffee consumption was still considered an artform.
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