Weather Affects Coffee, But Don't Blame Global Warming Yet

March 18, 2011

Farming has never been a career for the faint of heart. Weather can change and rain at the wrong time, or bring too little rain, too much rain, too little or too much sun, and the bugs and the ……the list is long. Now the repeated reason given for a problematic season is that the whole climate has changed. So the writers about coffee are getting all alarmed about the future of coffee.

Regardless, some farmers are moving their crops further up the mountains. For the fortunate ones who have that option, it’s great. Others are trying different marketing strategies. One of these is to brand their coffee as more sustainable. It’s very fashionable to buy sustainable products now, so that branding is a good move.

According to justmeans.com, the new sustainability claim – that of being carbon-neutral - is based on a test with a British certification. The 800 farmers in a Costa Rican co-op are involved. The article points out that shade-grown coffee is much better for the coffee and the land, as clear-cutting to provide the coffee more sun exposure is not a good practice.

The author also points out that carbon-neutral claims are not all-encompassing. There’s a small - well, not so small - matter of transport. All these beans coming to roasters from all over the world are wonderful, but they affect the ecology because of the fuel needed to transport them. Now, Europe and the US are not able to grow coffee, so one way or another, sustainable beans or not, fuel will be needed to be burned to get coffee to most of its consumers.

We need our coffee and the farmers of the world need the income. This problem doesn’t pertain only to coffee either, as a huge percentage of our food is being trucked or flown from farmers to consumers all over the world. Ongoing studies are being done by different organizations to plan the most economical ways to get the freshest food to the most consumers most efficiently.

But we have to be careful not to panic and blame everything on a permanent climate change. Climate data results from many years of weather patterns. One season of bad weather does not mean climate change.

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