A bitter cup: climate change profile of global production of Arabica and Robusta coffee

A bitter cup

Coffee has proven to be highly sensitive to climate change. Because coffee plantations have a lifespan of about thirty years, the likely effects of future climates are already a
concern. Forward-looking research on adaptation is therefore in high demand across the entire
supply chain. In this paper we seek to project current and future climate suitability for coffee
production (
Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora) on a global scale. We used machine
learning algorithms to derive functions of climatic suitability from a database of georeferenced production locations. Use of several parameter combinations enhances the robustness of our analysis. The resulting multi-model ensemble suggests that higher temperatures
may reduce yields of
C. arabica, while C. canephora could suffer from increasing variability
of intra-seasonal temperatures. Climate change will reduce the global area suitable for coffee
by about 50 % across emission scenarios. Impacts are highest at low latitudes and low
altitudes. Impacts at higher altitudes and higher latitudes are still negative but less pronounced.
The world
s dominant production regions in Brazil and Vietnam may experience substantial
reductions in area available for coffee. Some regions in East Africa and Asia may become
more suitable, but these are partially in forested areas, which could pose a challenge to
mitigation efforts.

The beginning

On May 3rd, I arrived in beautiful Hanoi at 7 pm. Despite the overcast appearance and the lateness in the evening, it was 31 degrees celsius!! Incomprehensible to anyone from temperate Ireland. A pre-arranged taxi driver picked me up straight off the plane and brought me to a car right outside the main door to bring me to my Air BnB. The road seemed calm to begin with, but as we neared the city the traffic became more hectic. Suddenly there were cars and scooters on all sides, everyone beeping and appeared to be breaking every road law I had ever learned. Luckily my un-phased driver manoeuvred our way through the madness to my beautiful apartment, where as soon as I closed the door, the madness of the city was instantly drowned out by tranquil silence.

After I quickly got my bearings it was time to explore my new surroundings and begin sampling the delicious local food I had been looking forward to. Despite the lateness in hour, the temperature had not even fallen slightly, 9 o clock at night and it was still 31 degrees!! The locals looked at me with amusement, and despite us being in the middle of a large city, many of them smiled and said hello to me, delighted to welcome a new visitor to their lovely city. After a quick stroll (and a life threatening crossing of a road), I found a lovely looking restaurant with a lovely waitress delighted at the opportunity to practice her english. With the help of my lovely waitress I tried a meat noodle soup that was delicious. I had forgotten that they use chop sticks here so I realised if I want to eat here, my chop stick skills are going to have to dramatically improve. After my lovely first sampling of the local cuisine I returned to my apartment for a well needed rest excited for the next day and for my new life in Hanoi to begin.