June 2022

In January this year, a research paper was published examining the predicted impact of climate change on three important cash crops: coffee, cashew, and avocado. These crops were chosen as they share some key attributes. They are crops which require longer term planning, (rather than annually sown), and they each require specific climates to be successfully grown. Climate, rather than soil or land type, is highly important to these crops, and this makes them interesting for climate-change researchers to study.

avocados growing at Montes de Cristo in Costa Rica

Given how important the global coffee crop is to the world, there has been surprisingly little research done on how climate change is impacting coffee growers and processors. We chat with farmers every day and we hear about it, and see it when we travel to the farms, and we can see it in action now. At the time of writing, we are feeling the effect of unseasonal rain in Nariño, Colombia. The trees haven’t had the long, dry, and moderately warm spell they need while the cherry has been developing. The farmers are struggling to process the crop and we are finding it difficult to get enough coffee to buy. For farms that rely on coffee and have no diversification, this is a serious problem. Colombia is fortunate in a way though, as their coffee federation acts as a buyer of last resort; so, if a farmer can get any crop in, no matter the quality, there is a buyer in the market at least.

Climate change is already having a large and meaningful impact on coffee growing and there is more to come. It is estimated by the authors of the paper that by 2050 there will be 50% less land suitable for growing coffee. Outside of localised weather problems we are already seeing some lower altitude farms start to struggle and higher altitude areas become viable.

On the farms mitigation planning is currently approached in three ways 1) cultivar development, 2) farm management techniques, and 3) land conversion. The roasting industry will have work to do too. We will need to be able to help support farms as they move to more resistant cultivars, change processing techniques, and rejuvenate their farms. Along the way, some farmers will leave coffee and move to other crops to which their climate becomes more suited, and we will discover new farmers to work with who move into coffee. This is land conversion in action.

Now in Brazil, we are entering winter and so the frost risk adds a layer of complexity. You may recall last year in July (August 2021 Newsletter) there was a significant frost where many farmers lost a good proportion of the crop. This year, to help mitigate the threat to young trees and new growth, many farmers, even those outside of the traditionally risky areas, are wrapping their trees in thermal protection. Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer and what happens to its crop really matters. It’s terrific to see the work that has been done at the end of the last crop to get their farms ready for the winter. It’s a great example of the changes in farm management now required.

The research paper, if you want to read it is – Expected global suitability of coffee, cashew, and avocado due to climate change by Roman Gruter, Tim Trachsel, Patrick Laube, and Isabel Jaisli (Published by Plos One, 2022) you can find it at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0261976. Reading it has been profound. We hear about climate change and the future challenges a lot but reading about the predictions for coffee and other crops makes one realise that in our lifetimes the way coffee is grown and processed will change dramatically.

Next month we will look at cultivar development for climate resistance and talk about some of the work being done in research and on the farms.

Monmouth x

February 2022

It’s time to talk about cups. Specifically, paper cups and reusable cups. It may not come as a surprise to you that hot-drinks paper-cups are tricky items. They are made to withstand a hot liquid for a minimum amount of time and as such are lined with a plastic of some description. This plastic (whatever… Read more »

November 2021

From November we are closed on Mondays at our Covent Garden and Borough Market shops. You’ll find our opening days and hours here. Like many other companies in retail and hospitality, and many other industries, we have found ourselves in a rather awkward set of circumstances. We got a lot busier as we came out… Read more »

August 2021

In July’s newsletter we discussed the new crop being in full swing in Brazil. A few weeks later and the big news out of Brazil is the frost that hit on the morning of July 20th. A significant frost in the growing areas of Brazil has a huge impact on coffee growing and the wider… Read more »

July 2021

We are firmly in the landing time for the new crops from Central America. Some, like the Malacara A (El Salvador) and Telia Herbazu (Costa Rica), are already with us but July is when most of our coffee from Guatemala starts to land. And what a crop it is. We have old favourites from Capetillo… Read more »

June 2021

Last month we had our organic audit, always nerve racking and always better than expected, which we passed with a couple of small things to do within twenty-eight days of the audit. Audits are there to keep the process of buying, importing, warehousing, roasting and selling organic coffee controlled and legitimate. One cannot in the… Read more »

May 2021

We have, this month, our best decaffeinated coffee to date arriving. The coffee itself is from Fazenda IP, Brazil, a stalwart on our counter. It has been decaffeinated at Descamex in Mexico and at time of writing has just arrived at the roastery. We tasted the arrival sample when it landed and all of us… Read more »

April 2021

April in the roastery is all about sample roasting and tasting. This is a super busy time for our coffee buying team with all the new crop samples coming in from Central America. Each coffee is sampled before shipping, after shipping, and on arrival to make sure the coffees are tasting great and ready to… Read more »

March 2021

We have a new coffee on our counter this month – El Morito – from Peru. We haven’t had a coffee from Peru for several years and it is interesting to think about how and why that happens. Peru is a large coffee producer and over the thirty last years or so has really concentrated… Read more »

February 2021

As we are all here rejoicing in the occasional snow fall, holding off the usual February malaise, and generally feeling fed up and frustrated with the virus, there is plenty happening on the farms in Central America. The crop is finishing ripening and being picked with COVID precautions in place. Once picked the coffee cherry… Read more »