What Can We Do to Stem the World’s Coffee Shortage?

Coffee is the lifeblood of millions of Americans. If you’re one of them, this new research is bound to strike stone cold fear into your heart. Non-profit institute, World Coffee Research, is predicting an imminent shortage of 180 million bags of coffee worldwide. “Demand for coffee is expected to double by the year 2050,” Greg Meenahan, partnerships development director at World Coffee Research, explains. “If nothing is done, more than half of the world’s suitable coffee land will be pushed into unsuitability due to climate change.” And by 2080? Wild coffee could go extinct.

What’s happening exactly? 

Arabica beans — the most prevalent type of coffee beans grown — need ideal tropical conditions thrive. Only a handful of places around the world are currently able to grow Arabica beans: East Africa (where they’re originally from), Central America, Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam. However, Arabica beans are no longer growing as well as they once did due to extreme climate changes including both drought and heavy rain.

Additionally, the heavy rainfall in Central and South America has spawned a harmful fungus that goes by the name of Coffee Leaf Rust. In El Salvador, Coffee Leaf Rust has caused a whopping 80% loss in the country’s total coffee crop. This is a problem that’s made even worse by the lack of diversity in coffee bean types around the globe — there’s only 52 different varieties of coffee bean in total. Along with increasing numbers of pests like the Coffee Berry Borer, coffee crops are more at risk than ever before.

Growing demand

If all that wasn’t bad enough, global coffee demand is growing at a pace farmers are struggling to keep up with. In fact, more coffee was produced than drank in 2014: roughly 143 million bags were produced while 150 million were consumed, the International Coffee Organization reports. It’s estimated the number of coffee drinkers is increasing every year by 2.5%. Four new coffee shops open everyday in China, while 2, 000 have opened over the past couple of years throughout Europe.

Enjoying coffee the sustainable way 

Preparing a daily cup of coffee is a habit most aren’t ready to live without yet. So, rest assured, there are still ways you can get your daily caffeine fix. You can help the situation by being mindful of where you buy your coffee from. For example, purchasing fair trade coffee will support sustainable farming practices (and it also tastes delicious). You’ll also be supporting the farmers who earn their living from the coffee supply chain, as well as their wider communities. On a bigger scale, climate change needs to be tackled and pretty urgently, so coffee crops can start to grow as abundantly as they once did.

So, while it’s not yet apparent how this dire situation is going to resolved, you still have a good few years of unbridled coffee-drinking ahead of you. But be prepared to see a price hike in the near future to attempt to balance the current disparity between supply and demand. Our recommendation? Start stocking up on bulk coffee now.