Climate change affects the taste of coffee, as it makes bland beans more abundant, research shows

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Coffee could become more boring in the future, as rising temperatures due to climate change could result in less intense types of beans, scientists have warned.

A team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has created computer simulations to investigate the effects of ‘climatic’ factors on coffee growing areas in Ethiopia, the largest producer in Africa.

They found that changes in temperature, rainfall, and length of the seasons could make quality and rich-tasting beans more scarce, but neutral beans more abundant.

As growers get more out of the higher quality than the everyday varieties, they may have to make regular coffee more expensive to cope with the change.

Coffee may become more boring in the future, as rising temperatures due to climate change can result in less intense types of beans, research shows.  Stock image

Coffee may become more boring in the future, as rising temperatures due to climate change can result in less intense types of beans, research shows. Stock image

ETHIOPIA REGIONAL COFFEE VARIETIES

Ethiopia has some of the best and oldest coffee varieties in the world.

They are marketed under the name of the region where they are grown.

Sidamo This is believed to be the first region where coffee comes from, with balanced beans with a citrus note.

Genika A type of Arabica coffee grown exclusively in the Bench Maji zone of the country, it is a small grayish bean with a deep, spicy and wine-like flavor.

Harar The Eastern Highlands of the country, one of the oldest coffee beans still produced with a fruity wine flavor.

Yirgacheffe Coffee beans with notes of sweet red cherries, a classic bean grown organically.

Climate change experts have modeled 19 ‘climatic’ factors after the growing areas in Ethiopia that are said to be responsible for some of the best quality beans in the world.

For example, warmer temperatures and less rainfall cause the beans that grow into the highest quality coffee to ripen too early.

This means that coffee is used for more mundane strains used to make generic lattes, cappuccinos and espressos.

That, in turn, makes the more exclusive varieties rarer and more expensive and, like the best vintage wines, out of reach for the common consumer, they said.

Growers will then create larger areas to grow the more common varieties and smaller areas for specialty coffee, which will also affect their income as they earn more from the fancy versions, said study lead author Abel Chemura.

He said: “Climate change has conflicting consequences for coffee production in Ethiopia. The area suitable for medium-quality coffee could even gradually increase, according to our computer simulations, until the 2090s.

‘But more is not necessarily better. Because on the other hand, the suitable area for high-quality specialty coffees valued for their floral, fruity and spicy notes is likely to shrink if climate change continues unchecked.

‘This is not only an issue for coffee lovers, but also for the creation of local agricultural value.’

On the other hand, more rainfall is generally beneficial to coffee production, but is not necessarily beneficial to individual specialty coffees.

So, while the researchers predict that the area suitable for four of the five specialty coffees will decline, some are hit harder than others.

For example, the Yirgacheffe type, grown in southwestern Ethiopia, could lose more than 40 percent of its suitable area by the end of the 21st century.

This is considered one of the world’s oldest and sought after coffees by true caffeine aficionados, baristas and coffee aficionados around the world.

Not only would this affect coffee drinkers worldwide, especially those who grind their own beans or prefer refined blends, it would also impact Ethiopia’s economy.

A team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has created computer simulations to investigate the effects of 'climatic' factors on coffee growing areas in Ethiopia, the largest producer in Africa.  Stock image

A team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has created computer simulations to investigate the effects of ‘climatic’ factors on coffee growing areas in Ethiopia, the largest producer in Africa. Stock image

The study’s co-author, Christoph Gornott, added, “If one or more coffee regions lose their specialty status due to climate change, it could have serious consequences for the region’s smallholder farmers.”

If these groups were forced to switch to growing conventional, more bitter varieties, they would compete with more efficient industrial systems elsewhere.

“For the country, where coffee exports make up about a third of all agricultural exports, this could be fatal,” said Gornott.

‘Our study underscores the importance of local adaptation planning and response.

‘We show how climate change has very concrete effects on the availability and taste of one of the world’s most loved drinks and, more importantly, on economic opportunities in local communities in the South. ‘

The findings are published in the journal Scientific reports

BENEFITS OF DRINKING COFFEE

Caffeine is considered safe for consumption at doses up to 400 mg per day for the general population.

Studies suggest it may have several health benefits, including fighting liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

In fact, research has suggested that it might even help people live longer.

It is the world’s most consumed stimulant, and reports show it can increase daily energy expenditure by about five percent.

Researchers have said that combining two to four daily coffees with regular exercise would be even more effective at keeping weight down.

A 2015 study found that just a few cups a day can help millions of dieters to trim once they reach the desired weight.