Global Coffee Craze - The Environmental Toll and Path to Sustainable Brews

Global Coffee Craze - The Environmental Toll and Path to Sustainable Brews

The world’s coffee consumption continues to rise, with the International Coffee Organisation forecasting that it will reach 177 million 60kg bags in 2023-2024. This surge in demand has significant environmental implications, especially as coffee cultivation often involves converting forested land into plantations, which impacts biodiversity and releases substantial carbon dioxide. Sustainability in coffee farming can be improved through agroforestry, which involves growing coffee plants under the shade of trees, promoting biodiversity, and storing carbon. Sander Reuderink, founder of Carble, emphasizes that coffee can be grown sustainably, as seen in Ethiopia, where coffee is traditionally grown in forest-like conditions. However, many smallholders and large-scale producers still opt for monoculture practices, which are less environmentally friendly. The Coffee Barometer 2023 report indicates that while some companies like Nestle and Starbucks are making strides in sustainability, many still fall short, often shifting responsibility to suppliers. Larger companies tend to have more advanced climate strategies compared to smaller speciality brands. In regions like Saudi Arabia, efforts are underway to make coffee production more sustainable through the use of solar-powered irrigation and green building practices. For consumers, choosing certified or high-quality coffee from regions known for sustainable practices, such as Ethiopia, can make a significant difference.

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