How Does La Niña Affect Coffee Production?

How Does La Niña Affect Coffee Production?

The El Niño weather phenomenon which changed weather patterns around the Pacific Ocean and across the world has abated. According to the United States Climate Predicition Center, currents in the Pacific are likely to convert to a pattern called La Niña by August of 2024. How does La Niña affect coffee production? The effects of La Niña on the biggest coffee producing regions of Brazil, Vietnam, and the Central America to Colombia corridor will be somewhat different.

What Is La Niña?

La niña is Spanish for little girl as opposed to little boy which is what el niño means. El niño is used to describe a weather pattern that commonly begins around Christmas and therefore refers to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. La niña is simply a designation for the opposite weather pattern. El Niño is when the trade winds that typically blow from East to West across the Pacific at the equator weaken. This causes warmer water to be pushed back against the west coast of the Americas and for the jet stream to move south from it usual location. The result is dryer weather in South America and north and west North America while south and east of North America get torrential rains and snow. Weather patterns are typically energized making storms more ferocious.

When trade winds strengthen again across the equator in the Pacific and even become stronger the La Niña weather pattern is that the jet stream moves north and warm water is pushed toward Asia. This typically leads to a more energetic hurricane season, torrential rains in the north and west of North America and droughts in south and east. In South America La Niña can cause severe droughts in Brazil and Argentina and dryer conditions farther north turning to heavier rain across the northern amazon and moderately more rain in the Colombian coffee growing region in the west of the Andes and up into Central America. Across the Pacific in the world biggest producer of robusta coffee, Vietnam is likely to see torrential rains for the duration of the La Niña weather event.

Will the El Niño La Niña Patterns Become More Common?

The weather pattern reversals of El Niño to La Niña and back occur roughly every two to seven years but never have settled in to a more regular pattern. La Niña commonly lasts a few months to a couple of years while El Niño can go on for six to eight years. There is some speculation that a generally warmer climate will cause these events to not only become fiercer but to make them switch back and forth more rapidly. What that means for agriculture and the coffee industry in particular will possible lead to rapid switching between droughts and floods with little time for more moderate weather patterns. If that it the case production will be damaged on both ends of the scale and prices will rise.

La Niña Effects on Colombia

The likely effects of La Niña on Colombia will differ between the south and east versus the west and north. Amazonia will see heavier rains while the western and northern Andes will see a moderate increase. Because the huge ranges of elevation in the mountains micro climates will also moderate or worsen these effects. For the coffee crop, heavier rains will help alleviate the effects of greater heat. However, with heat and humidity come greater risks of coffee plant diseases like leaf rust. Because coffee is traditionally planted on slopes the plants will not drown. However, in the Cauca Valley bread basket where so much of Colombia’s vegetable and other food stuffs are grown excessive rain and floods may, in fact, threaten the food supply. Colombia’s President Petro has warned of this being a climate emergency.

The bottom line for the coffee crop is that production may be diminished which, along with problems in other arabica producing regions will probably lead to higher prices for good coffee.

How Old Is Arabica Coffee?

How Old Is Arabica Coffee?

When we ask how old is arabica coffee we are not talking about stale coffee that has lost all of its antioxidant properties. Rather we are asking how far back in time the arabica coffee variety came to be. In regard to people drinking arabica coffee we know that coffee was first consumed by humans in what is today Ethiopia nearly a thousand years ago. Arabica coffee crossed over to what is today Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and from there spread across the world. Evidence of when arabica coffee came to be by natural cross breeding so long ago comes from a study just published about a newly sequenced genome by the University of Buffalo.

When Was the First Arabica Coffee?

Long, long before anyone ever contemplated drinking coffee and even before modern humans walked on the earth there were arabica coffee plants. A breeding and genetics study just completed and reported date the first arabica to about 600,000 years ago. What the scientists tell us is that in what is today Ethiopia natural cross pollination between coffee plants in the wild resulted in a relatively stable coffee plant that has retained its genetic makeup for a very long time.

Why Study the Genetics of Arabica Coffee?

The research that produced an estimate of arabica coffee being more than half a million years old did not just get done because it is an interesting topic. Nestle and other big actors in the coffee world are concerned about how high quality arabica coffee will survive as the world’s climate heats up. They want more detailed genetic information about high quality arabica coffee in order to guide research into more resistant and hardier varieties that retain the current quality of a good cup of arabica, organic or not.

Arabica Is a Climate Change Survivor

One of the things that scientists want to study is now arabica coffee maintained a relatively stable genetic makeup ever since it was naturally created so long ago. Over the last 600,000 years the earth has seen ice ages in which temperatures were much lower. However, roughly 60,000 years ago it was about as hot globally as it is today after human activity has heated up the planet. What the genetic record with arabica coffee tells us is that this coffee variety has remained roughly the same throughout temperature ups and downs. What we do not know for sure is how many arabica plants there were during the times of greatest climate stress and how may during ideal climate conditions. What coffee scientists would like to know is how to preserve arabica production in the coming years and if newer genetic information will help in that regard. The recent evidence seems to tell us that arabica is a climate change survivor.

Can Arabica Characteristics Be Genetically Transferred to Robusta?

What makes arabica different genetically is what is called polyploidy which is multiple copies of many of its chromosomes. While this may make arabica a variety that does not change much over time it may be a hindrance to direct genetic manipulation in search of greater hardiness combined by great flavor and aroma. What that may well mean is that the best ways to maintain and improve arabica strains is what scientists have been doing for generations, cross breeding and picking the offspring with the best results to create newer, stronger, and great tasting coffees.

Gourmet Coffee at Budget Prices

Gourmet Coffee at Budget Prices

Gourmet coffee is coffee that is picked at the peak of freshness, processed in small batches, and treated with special care at every step in order to produce the best flavor and aroma. Gourmet coffee also tends to be quite expensive. Part of this has to do with the extra work and cost involved in producing gourmet coffee. Part has to do with gourmet coffee producers being able to market as being not only of high quality but also available only in small quantities. The fact of the matter is that gourmet coffee at budget prices is available if you know where to look!

What Makes Gourmet Coffee Better Than Average Coffee?

First of all, gourmet coffees start with the highest quality arabica coffee plants. Then these plants are cared for with special attention in order to ensure sustainability and prevention of coffee diseases and pests. Then these coffees are picked at the peak of their ripeness. Typically, gourmet coffees come from microclimates that are ideally suited for producing the best coffee. This includes the most fertile soil and climate conditions. As these coffees are processed special care is taken to remove inferior or damaged coffee beans and then roasting is done in small batches to ensure an optimal roast for every batch and every coffee bean.

Just like with a fine wine, a fine coffee brings with it the flavor and taste of the environment in which it is grown. This quality is often missed in mass produced coffee where too many damaged, inferior, or poorly processed coffee beans pass into the final product. Fine arabica coffees have the potential for complex flavors and aromas and an attentive process used for gourmet coffees ensures that these qualities find their way to your cup of coffee. Folks who drink regular, non-gourmet coffee rarely notice subtle notes of florals, fruit, or chocolate in their brew while this is common and sought after in the world of gourmet coffees.

Colombian Coffee

Where Can You Get Gourmet Quality Coffee at a Reasonable Price?

A fine gourmet coffee that is effectively marketed can easily cost $50 a pound or much more for rare brands. These are generally fine coffees that command a high price partly because they require more work and expense to produce and market. However, there are coffee growers and coffee roasters who produce the same high quality coffee and sell a pound of roasted coffee within the $7 price range. This is commonly the case in the Colombian coffee growing region where great coffee is a family farm tradition and not a marketing gimmick.

Gourmet Coffee From Colombia

The coffee growing region in the west of the Andes mountain range in Colombia has many microclimates that are ideal for growing coffee of the highest quality. This region does not grow robusta or lower quality coffee that is hardier than arabica. All coffee is either standard old arabica strains or more recent hybrids that preserve the quality of fine arabica but are more resistant to coffee leaf rust and other coffee plant diseases. These include Colombia, Castillo, and Tabi coffee varieties. A personal favorite of ours is gourmet coffee produced by Café Quindío. This excellent gourmet coffee sells whole bean roasted for $7 a pound at the source Colombia and for only slightly more when ordered directly in the USA. For more info contact us at

How to Make French Press Coffee

How to Make French Press Coffee

If you want a great cup of coffee at home you need to learn how to make coffee. Of the various methods available is the use of a French press. This method results in more flavor from the fats and oils in coffee which are filtered out when paper filters are used. The best cup of coffee comes from using the best arabica coffee. But, by learning how to make French press coffee anyone can enjoy the best of the best coffee in the world every day at home.

How Does a French Press Work?

The French press method of making coffee uses a cylinder-shaped coffee pot, usually glass. It has a screen made of a wire mesh for a plunger. One puts the coffee grounds in the pot first and then adds hot water, near boiling temperature. This mixture is allowed to steep, like tea, for several minutes. Then the mixture is stirred just a few moments. After that the plunger apparatus is attached to the cylinder and the plunger gently pushed down through the brewing coffee. This process separates the bulk of the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee but not all of them resulting in the rich and earthy taste typical of French press coffee. The coffee is immediately ready to drink at this point.

Who Invented the French Press?

The French press method of making coffee has been around since the middle of the 19th century. It was invented by a Frenchman, Jacques-Victor Delforge. Thus folks in the United Kingdom and United States have always called this device a French press. Australians, South Africans, and New Zealanders call this device a coffee plunger for making plunger coffee. Meanwhile, the French, Italians, and Irish refer to this device as a cafetiere. No matter what people call it, the French press, plunger, or cafetiere is the same device and works the same everywhere.

How to Make French Press Coffee

Making French Press Coffee

It is difficult to get a bad cup of coffee using a French press but the best results will come from correctly following a few simple steps starting with the correct proportions of coffee and water. For best results start with twelve parts water to one part coffee and then adjust for taste.

Start by making sure that your French press cylinder and plunger have been properly cleaned after the last use. Then put the French press cylinder on a dry and flat surface with the plunger removed.

Use a medium to coarse grind for your coffee with a heaping tablespoonful per 200 ml of water to get the twelve to one ratio to start with.

Heat your water to boiling and then allow it to cool to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit or about 93 degrees Celsius. Then pour the hot water over the coffee grounds, stir briefly and not too forcefully, and allow to rest for three to four minutes.

Now attach the plunger apparatus and push down gently and steadily. At this point the coffee is ready to serve.

When you are done use mild detergent and water to wash the plunger and cylinder of your French press. Rinse well and then make certain that it dries completely before the next use.

How Green Coffee Differs From Roasted Coffee

How Green Coffee Differs From Roasted Coffee

The coffee that we drink every day is not the coffee that is picked on the coffee farm. We are used to roasted coffee. Coffee roasting produces most of the coffee flavor and aroma that we are used to. How green coffee differs from roasted coffee is not just about flavor and aroma. It is about the health aspects of drinking coffee and the constituents in green that are lost when coffee is roasted. Where you may have heard about green coffee is likely in regard to weight loss programs or in advertisements by folks who sell health supplements. If you go to the grocery store to buy your coffee you will find roasted and virtually never any green coffee.

How to Find Green Coffee

Coffee is grown in the tropics. The only place in the USA where they grow coffee is in the islands of Hawaii. Hawaii is the southernmost state of the USA located at the same latitude as the northernmost coffee growing regions of Mexico or Cuba. If you live in the state of Hawaii you could drive up the mountains to a coffee farm and buy green coffee at the source. The vast majority of green coffee that goes beyond the farm is that which is shipped to roasters across the world. A very tiny amount of green coffee is purchased by those who intend to market it as such and that rarely includes your local grocery store. It might be possible to buy some green coffee at your local coffee shop as they typically roast enough each day to make coffee for their customers. However, their profit comes from selling the roasted and brewed coffee end product and not from wholesaling green coffee.

Green Coffee Beans Before and After Removal of Husk
Green Coffee Beans Before and After Removal of Husk

What Is Green Coffee?

When coffee ripens and is ready to pick it is typically red or even yellow. That is the color of the cherry, the fruit that surrounds the coffee seed or bean. When coffee is processed on the farm the first thing is that the fruit is removed and then the bean is threshed in order to remove the husk that surrounds it. That is what is shipped around the world to coffee roasted and simply referred to as coffee. When you are reading about green coffee extract, they are referring to the unroasted coffee bean, the same thing that the roaster used to make the coffee you typically drink. The difference with green coffee for direct consumption is that the green coffee bean is ground up and not the roasted coffee bean.

What Is Green Coffee Like?

Most of the flavor and aroma we are used to with our morning coffee comes from roasting the coffee beans. Anyone who drinks brewed green coffee typically will not immediately identify it as coffee. It has a milder taste and what some folks refer to as a “grassy” taste similar to some herbal teas. However, it is more acidic than an herbal tea and also more acidic than roasted coffee. It also does not look like regular coffee. It is more of a yellow or even greenish color. More importantly, the chemical constituents in green coffee differ from those in roasted coffee.

Green Versus Roasted Coffee Constituent Differences

Green coffee contains lots of chlorogenic acids which are powerful antioxidants. These healthy ingredients are found in other foods like tomatoes, blueberries, or eggplants but green coffee beans have the highest levels of all of them. Because the bulk of the health benefits from coffee come from its antioxidants we are justified in expecting that green coffee will have the same or greater health benefits. One of the major effects of roasting green coffee is the reduction of levels of chlorogenic acids. This process produces most of the aroma and flavor that we associate with coffee and even produces some new antioxidants. But the total effect is a reduction in antioxidants when coffee is roasted. Another effect of roasting is a slight reduction of caffeine as one goes from a light to a dark roast.

Is Green Coffee Good for You?

The reduction in risk of getting type II diabetes from drinking coffee is well documented. The same benefit comes from green coffee as from roasted coffee beans. There is some preliminary evidence that green coffee consumption helps reduce high blood pressure and better evidence that it helps reduce high cholesterol levels. Because green coffee is so similar and perhaps a better antioxidant than regular coffee we might assume that other coffee benefits such as reductions in risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as various forms of cancer would occur with green coffee as well. However, the studies that have demonstrated so many health benefits have been done for decades with tens of thousands of people. No such data exists for green coffee consumption so, while we may assume these benefits to be the case, there is no hard proof.

Does Green Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Where most folks seem to have heard about green coffee is in relation to losing weight. Is this a viable reason to drink green coffee? This idea came from animal studies and has not been replicated in humans. As such, the best that we can say in relation to green coffee and weight loss is that it probably will not hurt to try it but don’t be surprised if it does not help.

Problems With Green Coffee

Green coffee has a slightly higher caffeine content than brewed roasted coffee. As such folks who get heartburn, anxiety, or a boost in their blood pressure from regular coffee may have the same problems with green coffee or even a bit more. However, there are no reported, hidden, or dangerous effects from consuming green coffee.

The Best Green Coffee Comes From the Best Coffee Beans

If you are serious about your coffee and want to try out green coffee, look for high quality arabica coffee from Colombia. If you want your green coffee directly from the source, contact us at for coffee direct from the source in Colombia.

Types of Coffee Grown in Colombia

Types of Coffee Grown in Colombia

We frequently write about how Colombia is a dominant producer of arabica coffee as opposed to robusta and commonly ranks as first in the world, always vying with Brazil for first place. However, there are many types of coffee grown in Colombia. Most are varieties of arabica but there are also coffees like Geisha grown in the western Andes mountain in the area generally referred to as the Colombian Cafetero. The point is that if you are interested in coffee from Colombia you have many options.

Maragogype Coffee from Colombia

Maragogype or “elephant coffee beans” are a natural mutation of typica coffee that occurred on a coffee farm in Brazil. This coffee produces a bean larger than the supremo size. It is also rather rare. That is because of two factors. One is that the Maragogype coffee plant is very susceptible to coffee leaf rust coffee berry disease, and nematode infestations. The other is that it requires extremely fertile soil to produce the best quality coffee. When soil quality is average or low this results in what has been called a coffee “without much flavor.” The combination of difficulty in getting an ideal crop with this variety and the risk of crop damage from plant diseases and pests means that there are just a few producers of Maragogype coffee in Colombia.

Pacamara Coffee from Colombia

Pacamara coffee was developed in El Salvador and introduced in 1958. It is the result of cross breeding Pacas and Maragogype coffees. Pacas gets its name from the Pacas family in El Salvador on whose coffee farm a spontaneous mutation of Bourbon coffee resulted in a coffee with more body and less sweetness than is common with Bourbon. The Pacas plant produced a high yield and was very hardy in the face of variations in the weather. They cross bred this coffee with Maragogype coffee with the goal of increasing the yield of the Maragogype plants. Although this effort was somewhat successful it still left growers with a coffee that is susceptible to coffee diseases and pests and reliant on excellent fertility for producing the desired quality of coffee. Thus this type of coffee is grown rarely in Colombia.

Marsellesa Coffee from Colombia

Marsellesa coffee is one of the attempts to achieve resistance to coffee leaf rust by cross breeding with rust resistant coffee strains from the island of Timor in the East Indies. This coffee comes from a cross between a Bourbon mutation called Villa Sarchi and the Timor variety. The flavor and aroma comes from the Bourbon mutation and the disease resistance comes from the East Indies variety. This type of coffee was developed in Costa Rica in an attempt to fight left rust but can be found in Colombia in small quantities as well.

Leaf Rust Resistant Arabica Coffees Developed in Colombia

Much more common in Colombia than the types mentioned so far are Tabi, Castillo, and Colombia coffee varieties. All of these were developed in Colombia by cross breeding high quality arabica coffees with leaf rust resistant East Indies strains. Because of their higher resistance to coffee leaf rust these coffees are planted at lower altitudes in the 3,000 to 5,000 foot range while traditional arabica coffee is increasingly planted at higher and higher altitudes.

Geisha Coffee from Colombia

This coffee comes directly from Ethiopia as opposed to arabica coffees that made their way into Yemen a thousand years ago and from there across the world. Geisha or Gesha comes from the name for the part of Ethiopia in the Amharic language and has nothing to do with Japanese Geisha performers. The coffee has unique flavor and aroma. More Geisha is not grown because it is a more delicate plant than standard arabica and much more delicate that robusta. Because it can produce an excellent coffee, Geisha commands an extremely high price for the few growers who work with it. Geisha coffee is just starting to be introduced into Colombia at this point.

Coffee From Huila Colombia

Coffee From Huila Colombia

The greatest concentration of high quality coffee in the world comes from departments in the western Andes of Colombia. Although the three departments that comprise the coffee triangle or eje Cafetero, Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío, are the historic center of Colombian coffee, none of them is the biggest coffee producer. That title goes to the department of Huila. Huila produces 18% of Colombia’s coffee and year after year wins awards for the excellence of its coffee.

What Is Huila Coffee Like?

A common description from tastings of coffee from Huila, Colombia is that it has a caramel, fruity aroma, medium body, sweet notes, and bright acidity. Our personal favorite pink bourbon coffee comes from a farm high in the mountains of Huila. Huila comes from the Paez language and means luminous mountains. This region is likely one that will be spared much of the problems in coming years from a warmer climate because of its uniformly higher altitude. Thus this one of the regions whose high quality coffee will continue to be available even as coffee from other regions falls in quality while rising in price.

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee - Nevado del Huila
Nevado del Huila – Tallest Volcano in Colombia

When Did Coffee Growing Begin in Huila?

Although folks were growing coffee in Colombia back at the beginning of the 19th century when it was still a Spanish colony, coffee growers were not common in Huila until the middle of the 19th century around the same time that coffee production became common in the old department of Caldas which comprised what are today Quindío, Risaralda, and Caldas. Like in the eje Cafetero, coffee growing in Huila is largely a matter of family coffee farms where coffee has been grown by the same families for generations. This has created, as it has in much of the Colombian coffee growing region, a culture that values sustainable land management and produces what is uniformly coffee that ranks with or above the best in the world.

Huila Colombia Coffee Direct to You

An excellent commercial coffee brand from Huila is Café Flor de Huila. If you are interested in coffee from small coffee farms in the high mountains of this Colombian department. Contact us at for more information. We will be pleased to help with both roasted coffee for home use and threshed green coffee ready for roasting shipped directly to you anywhere in the world.

Is Coffee from Huila Gourmet Coffee?

While there are advertised gourmet brands of coffee from this department of Colombia most of the coffee from this region is gourmet in quality even though it is not advertised as such. Likewise, much of this coffee is grown using sustainable agricultural practices and, as such, is organic in reality even though the grower is not paying to have his or her fields certified as organic on behalf of the USDA. The coffee culture is such that in Huila there is no mechanized coffee picking like in parts of Brazil. Part of this is simply because that would not work on the steep mountainsides where coffee grows in this region. More importantly it has to do with the culture of producing the highest quality of coffee out of pride in who these people are and pride in their region.

Drinking Coffee and Breast Feeding

Drinking Coffee and Breast Feeding

The sum total of evidence tells us that coffee has lots of health benefits. These include a reduction of risk of getting type II diabetes, less likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases, and even a reduced risk of getting several types of cancer. But how about the effects of coffee on babies? We are not talking about bottle feeding coffee to your newborn but rather a mother drinking coffee and breast feeding. Is this safe? Are there limits to how much coffee a nursing mother should drink?

Effects of Coffee on Babies

When adults drink coffee it wakes them up, makes them more alert. Although too much coffee can cause problems adults process coffee rather efficiently and it generally takes a lot of coffee to cause problems. Newborn babies who are nursing do not process caffeine as efficiently as adults do. Thus, relatively lesser amounts can have relatively greater effects. The other part of this is that while you may feel energizes and alert your baby may simply be anxious, jittery or irritable. They may exhibit symptoms of colic. As with adults, side effects of coffee in babies are worse with higher levels of coffee in the body.

Drinking Coffee and Breast Feeding

How Long Does Caffeine Stay in Your Body?

Accumulation of caffeine in babies can be a significant issue because of their relatively immature kidneys and liver. The half-life of caffeine in an adult is between three and seven hours. In other words you drink coffee and there is level caffeine in your system. Half of that is gone between three and seven hours later and half of what remains in another three to seven hours. Thus, the amount of caffeine that remains from one morning cup of coffee is about an eighth to as little as 1/7x7x7 a day later.

How Much Longer Does Caffeine Stay in a Baby’s Body?

The half-life of caffeine in a newborn baby ranges between sixty-five and one hundred thirty hours. So, while an adult will get rid of half of their caffeine in three hours a newborn baby can require as long as five days and ten hours to reduce their caffeine level to half. The point is that if your baby is colicky because they got too much caffeine from breast milk that colic for one dose of caffeine may last for days!

Caffeine in Breast Milk

Because only a small amount of caffeine gets into breast milk, moms can consume as much as 200mg to 300 mg of caffeine (one or two eight ounce cups of coffee a day) and generally not see any adverse effects with their nursing babies. Anyone who drinks coffee in the six to ten cup a day range is likely to see side effects on caffeine in their nursing babies. (Maternal Diet and Breast Feeding – CDC) In the case of a premature baby moms may choose to cut back a bit more on their caffeine until baby is a month old or more. Something important to remember is that coffee is not the only source of caffeine. There are some “energy” drinks that have greater caffeine content that coffee. These can pose a much greater problem to you nursing newborn if they are your drinks of choice while nursing.

What Will Climate Change Do to Gourmet Coffee?

What Will Climate Change Do to Gourmet Coffee?

In our recent article about what constitutes a gourmet coffee we noted that extra attention and care is used at every step from picking to roasting. Gourmet coffee beans are individually selected at the peak of ripeness which often requires that coffee pickers pass through a coffee farm several times to achieve this result. As a practical matter, not all coffee beans qualify for gourmet quality and not all that might qualify are picked at just the right time. Thus, the amount of coffee available for gourmet treatment is substantially less than the total coffee crop on any given farm. It is our opinion that this situation will worsen as climate changes lead to worse coffee at higher prices across the board.

How Climate Changes Will Affect Coffee Quality

The best coffee aroma and flavor comes from arabica coffee. The other common variety, robusta, has a higher caffeine content, is more bitter, and lacks the fine aroma of a good arabica. The down side for arabica is that the plants are susceptible to a wide variety of coffee plant diseases and pests while robusta coffee plants are much hardier. Robusta gives a greater yield per plant and per acre or hectare planted as well and robusta plants come to maturity and produce coffee sooner than arabica plants do. Greater heat, humidity, rainfall variations are likely to make much land unsuitable for arabica production before the same land becomes unsuitable for robusta production. The bottom line is that as these changes progress we will be seeing a proportionally greater production of robusta compared to arabica. Thus, we may see progressively more mixes of robusta and arabica and coffee that is increasingly bitter.

What Will Climate Change Do to Gourmet Coffee?

Climate Change and Gourmet Coffee

There will be two ways that gourmet coffee producers will be able to deal with the changes in store for the world of coffee production. One will be to reduce the expectations of consumers in regard to what constitutes gourmet coffee. The other will simply be to jack the price up for increasingly smaller supplies of what today qualifies as gourmet coffee. Smaller packages at the same price (like candy bars during periods of inflation) may become common as well. To the extent that these two routes for gourmet coffee are followed, we can expect to see a wide range of prices for gourmet coffee. The high quality gourmet coffee will become out of reach for the average consumer who will end up accepting lesser quality in their “gourmet coffee” and forgetting about what great coffee used to taste like. As coffee supplies diminish over the years we expect to see prices of all levels of coffee quality increase significantly.

Will Colombia Still Produce Gourmet Coffee in the Future?

Not all coffee producing areas will see the same degree of changes in their micro climates. For example, southern Mexico, which is the biggest organic coffee producer, will see more loss of cultivatable land than the western Andes in Colombia where the largest concentration of arabica coffee is grown. Because the highest quality arabica is grown at the highest altitudes, coffee grown in the Colombian Cafetero in the departments of Caldas, Quindío, and Risaralda will see relatively less of a problem. We noted in a previous article that one can get excellent gourmet coffee in local grocery stores in this region for about $8 a pound as opposed to as much as $100 a pound for selected online gourmet coffee offerings on However, if one wants to keep getting gourmet coffee at the current level of quality over the years and not pay exorbitant prices, contact us at for access.

Will Organic Coffee Survive Climate Change?

Will Organic Coffee Survive Climate Change?

We wrote recently about how climate changes will likely reduce coffee production and result in worse coffee at higher prices. We noted that arabica coffee plants will be more susceptible to ill effects from higher temperatures and that will be the reason for the likely lowering of coffee quality. Because organic coffee is generally arabica, that alone is a reason expect that climate change will probably result in less organic coffee. The bottom line question is this. Will organic coffee survive climate change?

How Climate Change Will Change Coffee Agricultural Systems

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the impacts of climate change on coffee growing systems will be sufficient to reduce yields in coming years. They note that environmental risks to coffee production include soil health deterioration, loss of biodiversity of coffee and related flora, fauna, and shade trees as well as pollution, extreme variability of rainfall and greatly increased stress from traditional and new coffee pests and diseases.

The amount of land suitable for growing traditional arabica and thus organic coffee plants will shrink as temperatures increase and local climates flip back and forth between excessive rainfall and draughts. The organic coffee farmer works continuously to preserve the ecosystem where he or she grows coffee and other crops and shade plants. A practical consideration that must be considered is that an organic coffee farm needs to be financially viable to survive. More work to maintain a sustainable organic coffee farm will cost more. If the market will not bear the extra cost, organic farmers may well convert to less expensive means of growing coffee including growing the hardier robusta variety by non-organic means.

Will Organic Coffee Survive Climate Change?

How Much Will Organic Coffee Production Suffer in the Coming Years?

A fair assumption is that as much of half of current coffee producing land may become uncultivatable for coffee by the middle of the mid to late 21st century. Extended periods of temperatures higher than 30 degrees Celsius will adversely affect flowering of the coffee plant. The same higher temperatures, when combined with higher humidity, will greatly increase risks from coffee plant diseases like leaf rust and pests like the coffee borer beetle. The use of fungicides and pesticides to fight these on non-organic land will adversely affect pollinators like the honey bee. Berries that do ripen will do so faster which generally leads to a lower coffee quality and yield.

Where Will the Effects of Temperature on Organic Coffee Be the Worst?

Climate scientists expect to see above 30 degree Celsius days increase from a low of 18 a year to a high of 56 a year with an average of 36 days within the coming years. Affected coffee growing areas will include the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America including Ecuador, Bolivia, the North of Peru, and the Bahia, Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná states of Brazil. In Africa Southwest Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Guinea can expect such higher temperatures. In the South Asia and East Indies region India, Sri Lanka, and two of the top four coffee growers, Indonesia and Vietnam will be affected.

Who Grows the Most Organic Coffee?

Latin America is responsible for three fourths of all organic coffee production. Three fourths of that production comes from Mexico. Thus, Mexico produces slightly more than half of all organic coffee. This may be a problem. Mexico is one of the countries most likely to see extreme temperatures in its coffee growing regions, an increase in pests and plant diseases, and a drastic reduction in land suitable for coffee cultivation. The primary coffee growing regions in Mexico are the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas in the south and Coatepec on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Chiapas and Oaxaca in the southern part of the country and Coatepec on the Gulf Coast. As an example, the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountain range runs parallel to the Pacific coast of Mexico and into Guatemala, and El Salvado. Its highest elevations run to 1,400 meters or 4,600 feet. This is the altitude at which Colombian coffee farmers are forced to plan leaf rust resistant strains while they plant the original arabica plants in the 6,000 to 8,000 foot range. The point is that the prime organic coffee growing regions in the biggest organic coffee producing country will be more prone to loss of ability to grow coffee than a country like Colombia where much coffee is grown at higher altitudes.