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 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

May 2022 – KB90

We have a new shiny! Specifically it is a new espresso machine in our Spa Terminus shop, and it is ace. Since we started making espresso-based drinks in the early 2000s we have used espresso machines made by Florence-based company La Marzocco. La Marzocco were established by Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi in 1927. They created… Read more »

April 2022 – Colomba!

It’s about this time of the year your writer gets a real hankering for panettone. Crazy, but maybe not so crazy after all, as Italy must have been feeling the same way at some point and came up with Colomba di Pasqua – the traditional Easter bread. Colomba is made to a very similar recipe… Read more »

March 2022 – reusable cups!

It’s happening! From this month we are no longer using paper cups for take away drinks. Your options are – 1. Bring your own reusable – this can be anything from your favourite office mug, to the reusable you got for Christmas, or the Thermos you’ve had since forever. We don’t mind as long as… Read more »

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 »

January 2022

As we come into what is the third year of the-time-of-Covid it is tempting to dwell on the situation. We are in winter, the lack of light, the cold, and the general uncertainty can feel overwhelming. But this month, your writer is focussing on silver linings, and we are going to start the year counting… Read more »

December 2021

Oh yes! Here we are! Christmas is here and we have all the good things out on the counters, online and in our shops. Panettone and chocolate are both in, coffees are tasting awesome, and it is good times all round. The counter has taken its Christmas shape, and back by popular demand is the… Read more »

Panettone 2021

Panettone from Pasticceria Triestina Ulcigrai has arrived and it is as toothsome and fluffy as ever! We have been buying panettone from this fifth generation bakery for a number of years now through Leila’s Shop and are always pleased with its full flavour from the long fermentation time and beautifully prepared dried fruit. Preparation for… 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 »

October 2021

We talked last month about roast profiles and how we go about describing the level of roast on our coffees. This got your writer thinking about the machinery itself and how we went about deciding to use Loring roasters. You may remember the brief history of our roasting machines last October – it seems it… Read more »