Climate Change: In Your Daily Cup
Thursday, December 1, 2016
I’ve always been drawn to coffee. Not necessarily to coffee the crop, or the beverage from which many of us get our daily caffeine, but to what happens specifically in any space where coffee is served. It could be a group of folks around a dinner table, or perhaps a few regulars sitting on soft seats in the opening moments at a neighborhood shop; coffee has a way of bringing people together. I have rather fond memories of large family meals that often ended with my mother fussing over the percolator to get that perfect cup of coffee on the table with dessert. The care, ceremony, and rhythm with which coffee interacts with our lives is astounding. I’m not even talking about those of us who fret over each detail of the brewing process. No matter how you take your coffee, it is such a regular part of so many lives across the world that it’s hard to imagine life without it.
Life without coffee. Let’s be honest with ourselves, that’s kind of a scary thought. But the more I read and listen to researchers, scientists and coffee farmers, I realize that if things continue on their current course, it’s a very real possibility. And the threat is more immanent than we might think. Climate change affecting daily life is not an issue that our children or grandchildren will have to grapple with, it’s part of our life today, here and now. It’s seen more clearly when I read prognostications that the future supply of coffee could be diminished by 50% in 2050 because of climate change.
The reality of climate change and its effect on coffee production is an easy thing to overlook for those of us in a consuming country. Coffee is not a crop that you can go buy fresh from your local farmer’s market. You cannot meet your coffee farmer face to face and talk about the year’s weather, whether it was too wet or too dry and how the temperature might have affected that season’s harvest. This can put consumers at a disadvantage merely because it does not cause us to think through issues that might be affecting this product we so often rely on.
As a coffee company committed to supporting organic farming practices, and paying appropriate prices to and advocating for small-scale farmers across the globe, Peace Coffee has given me the opportunity to see a business for good in action. When I say for good, I don’t mean to say that Peace Coffee exists to save the world’s coffee farmers and their communities one bag of beans at a time. I mean to say that we, as a company, exist to help farmers understand changes that are coming and give them resources to adapt as best they can. Because our livelihood is wholly connected to theirs. We employ people who depend on coffee thriving in growing communities instead of dying out due to climate change, just the same as our farmers.
Even still, we realize that, as a business, we do best by remaining focused on improving where we can and staying committed to doing right by the farmers who grow the coffee we roast and sell. We continue to support farmer to farmer education and things like the USAID coffee rust fund, but our scope to educate, research, or reform is limited. That’s why we support organizations like Climate Generation. Climate Generation seeks to empower people, young and old, to enact real change in their daily lives and to pass that information on in tangible ways that will affect future generations. It’s climate advocacy at its most basic and sustainable level, and using passionate people to pass along valuable knowledge is just the beginning of what they do. Our 'Wake Up Call' Blend is going home with attendees of tonight's 10-year celebration, and we're pleased to bring some pertinent facts about our role in curbing climate change in coffee producing countries (and at home) to the forefront. We’re proud to partner with them for their 10th anniversary celebration, and beyond that we are excited to see what they have planned for the future as we turn our focus toward a better type of change for our community and our world.
Further reading on coffee and climate change: