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Why You May Taste Climate Change in Your Coffee

November 8, 2021 – If your morning coffee doesn’t taste like it before, your coffee maker might not be to blame. A careful examination of the research suggests that climate change could wreak havoc on the growing conditions necessary for a perfect cup of coffee.

Coffee, native to Ethiopia, is cultivated on more than 27 million acres worldwide, mostly on small farms in more than 50 countries. It does best in tropical climates with moderate temperatures and rich soil. Ideal conditions for arabica coffee plants include temperatures ranging from 57 to 68 F, annual rainfall between 39 and 106 inches, and an annual dry season that lasts 1 to 3 months.

As these optimal conditions become less common and the weather conditions become more extreme, we can taste and feel the difference more and more in our cup, say the scientists in the journal published in Frontiers in plant sciences. They note that changes in the chemical balance of the coffee tree can affect not only smell and taste, but also compounds relevant to human health and nutrition.

They based their findings on data from 73 published studies examining environmental factors and agricultural practices related to climate change, as well as adaptations to climate change.

Farms at higher elevations typically produced coffee beans with the best flavor and aroma, the authors found. Conditions that compromise coffee quality include too much heat and light and too little water, all of which are increasingly common thanks to droughts associated with climate change. Coffee can also be sensitive to increased levels of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels.

Some agricultural techniques that could ward off these effects include shade structures to limit light exposure and reduce heat on fields, and the development of climate-resistant coffee plants. The studies included in the review were not controlled experiments designed to prove exactly what might protect coffee from climate change. The authors note that more research is needed to explore useful strategies.

In the meantime, an open question is how climate change might affect the health benefits of coffee, which have been linked to longer lifespan and lower risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes. type 2 and cognitive decline.

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