Whether you prefer notes of berry and citrus or chocolate and nuts, dark roast or light, a good cup of coffee can be a simple pleasure. You probably would notice if some of your morning brew’s brightness disappeared, or if the familiar fruity aroma dulled a little. Changes like these might not stem from when the beans were roasted or ground, but from growing conditions.
Coffee is grown on more than 27 million acres across 12.5 million largely smallholder farms in more than 50 countries. Many coffee-producing regions are increasingly experiencing changing climate conditions, whose impact on coffee’s taste, aroma, and even dietary quality is as much a concern as yields and sustainability.
A new research review says that coffee quality is vulnerable to shifts in environmental factors associated with climate change. The review, led by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts and Montana State University, also finds that some current adaptation strategies to combat these effects provide hope for positive outcomes.
“A subpar cup of coffee has economic implications as well as sensory ones. Factors that influence coffee production have great impacts on buyers’ interest, the price of coffee, and ultimately the livelihoods of the farmers who grow it,” says Sean Cash, an economist and the Bergstrom Foundation Professor in Global Nutrition at the Friedman School and senior author on the study, published in Frontiers in Plant Science.
“Climate change impacts on crops are already causing economic and political disruption in many parts of the world,” he says. “If we can understand the science of these changes, we might help farmers and other stakeholders better manage coffee production in the face of this and future challenges.”