Coffee vs. climate change: The news is not good

Enlarge / The fruit that produces wake-up juice. (credit: CIDSE)

This is serious: climate change could put your caffeine supply at risk. Coffee is notorious for being picky about its climate conditions, with the most popular varieties only growing at specific altitudes in the tropics. That alone makes coffee susceptible to climate change, but the plants are also fussy about their pollinators, which will also be affected by the changing climate.

A new analysis suggests that climate change on its own could cause coffee producing areas in the Americas to drop production by roughly 80 percent. But the remaining productivity might drop even further unless we ensure the crops have access to pollinators.

Coffee and climate

Only two varieties of coffee are cultivated. One is called "robusta;" as its name implies, it's more tolerant of heat and holds up better to insect pests, so it can be grown across a lot of the tropics. Unfortunately, robusta is uniformly acknowledged to not taste that great. Complicating matters further, its caffeine content is high enough to set off heart palpitations at nearly double the levels found in the other major coffee variety.

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