Is a coffee shortage inevitable as climate change gets worse?

By: Rosie Frost

A new study by scientists in Switzerland has revealed that the world could lose half of its best coffee producing land as a result of climate change. And that’s only in a moderate scenario.

According to the study, which analyzed the effects of climate change on the key tropical crops of coffee, avocados and cashews, Brazil – currently the world’s biggest coffee growing nation – will see its viable land decline by 79 per cent.

Like with many environmental issues, better respect for our trees could provide the answer to saving coffee. Creating a canopy over crops provides shade for the plants, reducing average temperatures and helping to take the edge off climate change-related extremes. It also shores up soil at risk of erosion from increased flooding and aids with biodiversity essential to keeping out pests and diseases.

This practice is called agroforestry and could stop a significant proportion of the land suitable for coffee production from becoming unusable in the hilly regions of southeast Brazil, according to one recent study. Previous research has indicated that these areas could be completely unusable by 2050 if nothing changes, having a massive impact on the supply chain of the caffeinated beverage.