Coffee fuels Community
I spent my Nomad-versary chatting with friend and former colleague, Jerry Jones, on his podcast Level Set about coffee, sustainability, community, and love. Have a listen here!
While I do not claim to be the expert on any of these topics, we wanted to bring some insights to an audience who might become curious about these intersections. Now that I've had a chance to re-listen, I'd like to share some added reading/listening about some of the topics we discussed.
Climate change is impacting where coffee can be grown and, therefore, the livelihoods of people associated with the industry. Read more on The Most Unexpected Effect of Climate Change where we learn "To grow properly, coffee crops require specific temperature, light and humidity levels and those needs are best met in Latin America’s so-called coffee belt, a region that includes countries between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. But this is likely to change. Rising temperatures will reduce the area suitable for growing coffee by up to 50% by 2050. Meanwhile, some areas that are not ideal for growing coffee may become hospital to the crop. That could happen in Nicaragua, where analysts say the optimum altitude for coffee cultivation will rise from 1,200 meters above sea level to 1,600 meters by mid-century."
While diminishing supply due to climate change and labor shortages, paired with increased coffee consumption, could mean coffee becomes a costly luxury, Perfect Daily Grind counters that point. This was the episode that introduced the idea to me that zero waste consumption could help maintain a balanced ecosystem in spite of the challenges facing the industry. Conscious consumption is one way we can slow the impacts of climate change.
The top coffee producing country is, indeed, Brazil with 5.7 billion pounds annually. They also lead in coffee exports, having exported nearly $5 billion to other countries in 2020 (compared to Colombia's $2.5 million).
While most coffee has traditionally been, and continues to be, harvested by hand there are some farms that use mechanized harvesting techniques. As I stated in the interview, Brazil is the most mentioned along with other large or commodity coffee farms. Perfect Daily Grind affirms that, "Delicious specialty coffee requires excellence at every stage of the supply chain. And that means that only harvesting coffee beans from the ripest of cherries is essential."
Something I learned while fact-checking that last point is that the machine harvesting has begun to expand as a solution to one of the challenges we discussed in the podcast - labor shortage. As Reuters noted over a decade ago, with coffee pickers moving to urban areas for year-round work, farmers have had to overcome their aversion to mechanizing the harvest of their vulnerable crops. You can read more on Sweet Maria's Coffee Library about the different effects of these harvesting practices and why they have become more necessary.
Isn't it incredible how interconnected coffee, sustainability, community, and love actually are?!
The insights I have gained are in large part due to a community of people and businesses I have had the pleasure of engaging. Thank you to: