The Coffee Growing Industry
One of the reasons why I started Republica Organic is because I believed that pleasure and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. I believed in the reality of a quality coffee company that showed respect to the earth and the people of coffee growing regions.
Coffee is one of the finest and simplest pleasures in life for those of us who choose to consume it. It’s difficult to imagine a world where coffee isn’t as readily available as it is today. You can get it in cafes, service stations and fast food restaurants. At home, brewing has become something of an art and you can make anything from a flat white to a macchiato in the comfort of your own home. Coffee has become so sophisticated that even instant coffee is becoming trendy again. I personally love a quick cup of instant in the afternoon and I'm thrilled that coffee connoisseurs are starting to respect the oldest and original form of make-it-at-home coffee.
For me, the thought of a world without coffee is difficult to comprehend but this could soon be a reality under the current climate change regime. The coffee industry is already under immense pressure from the effects of climate change, and studies show it’s only going to get worse. Being the CEO of one of Australia's most ethical coffee companies, I make it my mission to be informed of the consequences of climate change and how we can make positive changes in the coffee industry. Changes that support the planet, our workers and our customers as we move forward in these uncertain times.
Here’s what climate change is doing to the coffee industry.
1. It’s causing unprecedented insect plagues
The coffee berry borer is a major pest to coffee crops around the world and as the global temperature rises, the coffee berry borer is spreading at a rapid rate. This pest was once only a threat to the Congo region but due to recent changes in climate, have managed to spread throughout the world. A recent outbreak in Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands almost wiped out an entire season of crops. This could have been disastrous for Australians as 10% of our coffee beans come from this area, not to mention the devastation caused in the coffee growing communities.
2. It’s eradicating the already exclusive and small pockets of the globe where you can grow coffee
Recent research has shown that 40-60% of coffee growing areas in Ethiopia will be unsuitable for crops by the end of the century if measures aren’t taken to keep climate change to target. Even if climate change is kept to target, there’s still a predicted decline of appropriate coffee growing areas. This is devastating to both the consumers of coffee and the growers. At Republica, we pride ourselves on our Fairtrade practices and one of our focus areas is to keep our coffee crops in the coffee growing region to support the livelihood of the people who have been growing coffee in these areas for centuries.
3. It’s making conditions unbearable for coffee growers
Most coffee growers in the world are smallholders, which are small farms that mainly rely on labour for their upkeep. This means that most of the coffee crops in the world are in the hands of people who don’t have the education, means or finance to make the massive changes needed to adapt to climate change and keep their industry alive. This is why it’s so important to buy fair-trade and support the farmers in these difficult times. Paying a fair price for coffee means that the farmers have the funds to make necessary, yet costly changes to their methods of farming to keep up with climate changes. This is one of the reasons why I started Republica Organic in the first place, as I was appalled to see multi-national coffee companies taking advantage of smallholders for profit. Paying a fair price for decent coffee is one of the best ways to support farmers through the difficulties of climate change.
4. Before it kills the coffee industry completely, it’s going to lower the quality of coffee and increase the price
As less land becomes suitable for the growth of coffee, coffee beans will become scarcer and this will cause an increase in the price of coffee. It also means that whatever beans are available will be of lower quality as extended wet seasons and shorter dry seasons curb the production of quality beans.
5. It may lead to the complete destruction of coffee growing communities
Scientists are working out ways to cultivate coffee plants that will withstand climate change and can be grown in more diverse environments. This is great news for global coffee consumers but terrible news for the regions that have been exclusively growing and farming coffee for generations. With the support of Western money and technology, climate change is destroying one of the most valuable commodities these coffee producing countries have. With the same money and technology, the problem may be solved for the consumers and global coffee brands, leaving coffee growing countries in a crises situation.
So what are the answers to these issues? I believe it’s going to take a lot of forward thinking national leaders to keep the climate change goal in focus but in the meantime, consumers can certainly do their bit to keep the coffee industry thriving. My advice to coffee drinkers is to choose brands that are carbon neutral and Fairtrade, like Republica. By choosing brands that support both the environment and the coffee farmers, you’re doing what you can to help keep the coffee industry alive and to ensure guaranteed caffeination for future generations.
It's easy to shop sustainability with Republica Organic being available at Coles and Woolworths nationally. I humbly ask you to consider Republica Organic for your next coffee purchase. If you support climate change reduction and Fairtrade practices, Republica can give you peace of mind.