The impact of global warming on coffee

Global warming is a concept we are all familiar with. Unfortunately, it also affects our beloved coffee plant. As temperatures rise, our climate is changing, and global warming may affect where coffee grows in the future and whether it survives at all.


There is now no doubt that the world has been warming steadily in recent decades. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 600,000 years and is still increasing. Thesame is true for methane and nitrous oxide, which are also greenhouse gases. (Source: Baker & Haggar; SCAA conference handout; Long Beach May 2007) So let's look at how global warming threatens coffee.

One of the most popular beverages in the world, coffee is consumed by approximately one-third of the world's population and is one of the most globally traded agricultural commodities. Theworld coffee trade is based on two types, Arabica and Robusta, which account for about 99% of global coffee production. Coffee is grown inabout 80 tropical countries and is the economic basis for many of them. It is also estimated that approximately 25 million farming families around the world produce coffee. At the same time, most small farmers and families are largely dependent on this crop. Source: DaMatta, F.M., Rahn, E., Läderach, P. et al. Why could the coffee crop endure climate change and global warming to a greater extent than previously estimated?

Coffee is usually grown in the so-called "Coffee Belt", an imaginary plane stretching around the world between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, where the temperature is most suitable for the growth of coffee plants.

But temperatures in coffee-growing countries are rising all the time. But the range of places with the ideal temperature and altitude for growing the best quality coffee plants is narrowing. Temperatures are rising and the ideal conditions for growing coffee may begin to extend beyond the so-called coffee belt.

The expansion of coffee growing sites may seem like a good thing at first, but countries that once had ideal conditions for growing coffee are becoming too warm. This means that countries that are now perfect for growing coffee may soon become useless. These countries at risk include Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Higher temperatures bring with them other negatives. These include the various diseases that the coffee plant has to face. These include 'roya' or leaf rust, a devastating disease that thrives in warmer countries and can destroy entire plants.

Many countries are taking steps to combat the problems that come with warmer temperatures, including experimenting with new hybrid coffees.


Barista Championship finalist Sam Lewontin said that if we look at the location of the current coffee belt, countries that are more north and south of the equator are likely to really start growing coffee (although it's hard to say exactly where).

Countries such as Vietnam, India, parts of East Africa (such as Uganda) or even Mexico are currently producing a commodity coffee called robusta. Robusta is a variety which, although more resistant to disease and weather conditions, is less palatable compared to fine arabica coffee. However, with global warming, these countries will soon be able to enjoy the same conditions that the arabica variety needs.

For these countries, however, this is only good, as roasters are now increasingly favouring so-called ' choice coffee', which is made up of arabica.

If you're worried that coffee might stop being grown because of rising temperatures, we can only hope that it doesn't. Some regions are shifting the zones in which they grow coffee and others are experimenting with new coffee hybrids that are also good and resistant to some of the diseases that warm weather brings with it.

So hopefully there will never be a coffee apocalypse that prevents us coffee lovers from enjoying a delicious cup of coffee! ????


Baker & Haggar; SCAA conference handout; Long Beach May 2007

DaMatta, F.M., Rahn, E., Läderach, P. et al. Why could the coffee crop endure climate change and global warming to a greater extent than previously estimated. Climatic Change 152, 167-178 (2019)

Recommended products3