Before The Coffee Gets Cold Pdf

Coffee, one of the most beloved beverages worldwide, has a rich history and a complex process behind it. Have you ever wondered what it takes for your daily cup of coffee to reach your lips? From seed to bean, the journey unfolds over several years, involving countless farmers and meticulous processes. However, the future of coffee is under threat due to climate change.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold Pdf
Before The Coffee Gets Cold Pdf

The Shrinking Coffee Belt

The coffee plant, which is cultivated by millions of farmers spanning Latin America, Africa, and Asia, can only grow in specific regions. As man-made climate change continues to warm the planet, these regions are shrinking, leading to a crisis in the coffee industry. The impact of this crisis is already being felt in Colombia, one of the largest coffee producers globally.

The Arabica vs. Robusta Debate

Several species of coffee plants exist, with Arabica and Robusta being the most common. Arabica coffee, renowned for its smooth and mild taste, requires specific conditions to grow, making it particularly vulnerable to climate change. Extreme temperatures can hinder proper berry growth, while insufficient rain and unpredictable weather patterns affect its life cycle. On the other hand, Robusta coffee, with its bitter taste, is used for espresso and instant coffee production.

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Colombia: A Perfect Place for Coffee

If you were to imagine an ideal location for growing Arabica coffee, it would closely resemble Colombia’s coffee region, known as the Zona Cafetera. The unique combination of elevation, temperature, and climate in this region has made Colombian coffee the best in the world for over a century. However, climate change is wreaking havoc on the Zona Cafetera.

The Impact of Climate Change

The Zona Cafetera has experienced a temperature increase of 1.2 degrees Celsius since 1980 due to greenhouse gas emissions. This rise in temperature has pushed the optimal elevation for coffee cultivation higher up the mountains, leaving lower regions susceptible to overheating and resulting in lower-quality beans. Additionally, the warmer climate has facilitated the spread of pests and fungi, causing further damage to coffee plants.

A Widespread Crisis

The effects of climate change on coffee cultivation are not limited to Colombia. Coffee-growing regions worldwide face similar challenges. By 2050, it is predicted that the amount of land suitable for coffee cultivation will decrease by 50%. Furthermore, climate change poses a significant risk to wild coffee species, some of which are essential for breeding resistant Arabica varieties. These factors not only threaten the survival of the coffee plant but also jeopardize the livelihoods of generations who depend on the coffee industry.

The Coffee Story: From Crisis to Culture

Understanding the historical context of coffee production in Colombia sheds light on the significance of the challenges faced by farmers today. In the early 20th century, the booming demand for coffee from Americans and Europeans led to profitable coffee plantations in Colombia. However, the US economic crash in 1929 resulted in falling coffee prices and bankrupted many plantations.

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To prevent the collapse of Colombia’s coffee industry, the government intervened. They acquired large coffee fields from plantation owners and divided them into smaller plots, which they sold to laborers. The intention was to create smaller farms that could sustain themselves through the cultivation of other crops. This intervention not only saved the industry but also shifted its focus to smallholder farmers.

The Rise and Fall of Coffee Economics

To support these small farms, Colombia established Fedecafe, an agency that represented and organized the farmers. Negotiating fair prices and securing favorable deals with other countries, Colombia became a prominent player in the coffee market. The successful International Coffee Agreement of 1962, signed by Colombia and 69 other countries, set a price minimum for export.

With the recovery of coffee prices, smallholder farmers in Colombia thrived. By the 1970s, Colombia’s coffee farmers became a symbol of excellence worldwide. Unfortunately, the economic circumstances that supported these farmers began to deteriorate in the 1980s. The coffee agreement collapsed, flooding the market with cheap coffee from countries in Asia. This influx, coupled with extreme weather events and the prevalence of coffee rust, decimated Colombia’s crop, leading to a crisis in 2009.

The Struggle to Adapt

The economic challenges faced by coffee farmers have made it increasingly difficult for them to adapt to climate change. While there are measures that can mitigate the effects, such as planting shade trees or shifting cultivation uphill, these solutions require financial resources that many smallholder farmers lack. Without a return to stable coffee prices and the means to cope with the impacts of climate change, small farms worldwide are at risk of losing their livelihoods.

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A Culture on the Brink

The Zona Cafetera, with its deep connection to coffee cultivation and rich cultural heritage, is especially vulnerable. Unless there are significant changes in the coffee market and financial support for farmers, the future of an entire culture built around coffee is at stake.

In conclusion, climate change poses a grave threat to the coffee industry and the many smallholder farmers who depend on it. The shrinking coffee belt, the impact on Arabica and Robusta coffee varieties, and the economic challenges faced by farmers underscore the urgent need for action. It is crucial that we support sustainable practices, fair trade, and initiatives that prioritize the welfare of both the coffee plant and the farmers who cultivate it. Together, we can ensure the survival of this beloved beverage and the vibrant cultures that revolve around it.

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