Thirty-two years. That’s how long it’s estimated until climate change could spell the end of coffee.
Imagine, if you dare, a world without coffee.
The sharp, sweet aroma of freshly ground beans… gone.
That first glorious sip before you power into your work day… never again.
“Let’s catch up over coffee!” – sorry, check the menu.
For some, the end of coffee would be the end of life as we know it. Across the globe we now drink more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day.
But all jokes aside, it would actually mean the end of thousands of businesses, including our own.
Over 120 million people in more than 70 countries rely on the coffee value chain for their livelihoods. Coffee is the second most valuable commodity exported by developing countries.
A Brewing Storm http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/verve/_resources/TCI_A_Brewing_Storm_FINAL_WEB270916.pdf is a sobering report into climate change and the future of coffee, commissioned by The Climate Institute of Australia. It makes for frightening reading for those of us addicted to the bean, both for our own enjoyment and for our livelihoods.
“There is strong evidence that rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns are already affecting coffee yields, quality, pests and diseases, which is having a devastating effect on economic security in some coffee regions,” says the author of the report, Corey Watts.
“Without strong action to reduce emissions, climate change is projected to cut the global area suitable for coffee production by as much as 50 per cent by 2050. And by 2080, wild coffee, an important genetic resource for farmers, could become extinct.”
Climate change is real. The impact is already being felt globally in rising temperatures, sea levels and devastated cropping lands. The world’s bee population – a critical factor in coffee production - has dropped by one third in the last five years due to changes in their natural habitat.
Respected climate commentators such as David Attenborough foretell that without bees, the human race is not only going to miss out on their favourite brew – we will be in deep trouble. It’s actually been said we would have four years left to live.
Add in the fact that populations are growing, we’re living longer and we’re not drinking less coffee - we’re drinking more. Eventually, demand is going to outstrip supply.
Coffee has brought us together; it’s now woven into the fabric of Australian society, just as it has been for centuries all over the globe. Coffee has created new businesses, industries and a unique culture and traditions.
Things happen over coffee. Introductions, business deals, love affairs and break ups. (We don’t encourage the latter, of course. Coffee should only bring us together.)
At Griffiths Brothers we can remember a time when no one wanted a coffee machine in their café – if you can believe it. In Melbourne, the ‘third wave’ coffee revolution evolved right before our eyes. Every week, a new roaster enters the marketplace with a different twist on the same rich history.
But it’s not all good. Today, it’s all about fast, cheap, easy and often tasteless. You can buy coffee just about anywhere, anytime – a barista on every corner, from train stations, fast food outlets, 24-hour convenience stores. But every blend, every cup has an impact on our future.
Some forward-thinking businesses are operating with a nod to sustainability, with strategies like eco-friendly cups, new blends and ethically sourced beans.
But what are we really doing in the face of this growing crisis? Is it playing on your mind, or is it someone else’s problem?
How can we be coffee clever, together?
At Griffiths Brothers we’re starting the coffee conversation. We’re seeking change, before it’s too late. We want to question the status quo, stir the pot, and challenge conventions.
We’ll call it as we see it, to make you think twice about what you produce and serve. We will question your impact.
We want to explore improved production and new techniques in roasting, blending and serving.
We’re exploring new products and new ways, so we can enjoy coffee longer.
At Griffiths Brothers, we are roasting darker to achieve better cut through. With more than 80% of coffees served with milk, better milk cut through means reducing the required dose in the grip handle to get the same result. It also means less coffee waste and extended bean life span.
Through investment in cutting edge roasting technology, we can now roast bigger batches - up to 120 kg at a time - reducing our emissions, reducing our impact.
As a small step towards improving survival rates for the bee population, we’re beginning our own small beekeeping project. While a lot of coffee is self-pollinated, a significant percentage is not. We’ll soon be nurturing our own backyard bee hives and enjoying a natural sweetener in our favourite brews.
We are beginning to close the coffee loop. We believe that as roasters, we need to think end to end and take responsibility for our impact. We’re investigating every step of the coffee production journey.
We’re exploring the many incredible ways we can use our rich by-products - the pre and post-production organic materials that too often end up in landfill.
We’re investigating the viable re-use of coffee grounds for clean energy. Griffiths Brothers’ recent mindstorm, Hackoffeethon (link to www.hackoffethon.com.au ) was the catalyst for Max Middleweek’s sustainable start up, Zero Impact Energy (link to http://www.zeroimpact.co ). We’re a partner in Max’s clean energy journey - supporting and mentoring, supplying raw materials and advising on product development and branding, along with industry knowledge and expertise.
We’ll be piloting a coffee grounds collection program, just one way to close the coffee loop. When we deliver our coffee product, we will collect our coffee waste and store it here on site, ready for reuse by members of the community.
We’ve opened our doors in an effort to reduce, reuse, recycle. We encourage members of the community to visit and take our used hessian coffee sacks for recycling, our coffee grounds for compost or coffee husk for chicken coop bedding. Help us make use of our coffee waste. Give it a second life in your household or community.
It’s time we looked deeper, worked smarter, thought twice. It’s time for #coffeerehab
Let’s start the coffee conversation. Who’s with us?