The Future of Coffee

Everyone knows the feeling. You wake up in the morning and your head’s pounding. Not because you’re hungover, just because you’re a human. You slink out of bed and shuffle into the kitchen to open up the treasure chest that sits on your counter top. The lid pops off the canister, and there it is. The aroma from the dark beans waft up into your nostrils, caressing your olfactory nerves subtly and sweetly. Ahh… Coffee. It has long been the drug of choice for most americans, and in recent years, barista-ing has exploded into an art form. But coffee lovers may be in for a surprise in the future. What does the future of coffee look like, exactly?

Coffee Will Get More Expensive

I know, I know. It hurts, but it’s true. The areas that produce most of the world’s coffee are also the areas that will be most affected by climate change. These dramatic swings in temperatures will cause coffee plants to whither up and dry out (or drown them in tsunamis), and that’s not very good for the coffee market. The dramatic swings in temperatures are also causing bugs and disease to infest and infect coffee plantations all across the world. This means higher prices for the end consumer.

It’s also not good for the coffee producer. A majority of coffee farmers only make pennies on the dollar of what the coffee is finally sold for, so they’re already struggling. Add to that an unstable crop, and you’ve got a recipe for a lot of people being out of work.

Coffee Will Start Coming from New Places

Say goodbye to those Guatemalan and Sumatran roasts. Climate change might affect the regions that currently produce coffee, but that means that coffee’s growing zones will move to other areas. Places that aren’t known for their specialty coffees, like Mexico and Uganda, are starting to put more money into producing more flavorful beans. “We’re starting to see a lot more investment in coffees coming out of Vietnam and India,” says Sam Lewontin, a KRUPS ambassador and award-winning barista, “although those are both fairly new things.”

Say Goodbye to the Little Guy

As coffee prices go up, it makes it more difficult for smaller, local retailers to get their hands on raw beans. Local coffee chains used to dot the landscape of small and big cities alike, but if they can’t get their hands on affordable beans, it could mean trouble for their business. Bigger chains, ones that can get their beans in bulk (and therefore less money), will start taking over the marketplace, causing prices to rise for everyone else. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Stumptown coffee. Earlier this year, the long-standing giant in the indie coffee scene began operating with Peet’s Coffee & Tea. It’s only a matter of time until other roasters and coffee shops start finding bigger businesses to partner with, as well.

Does this mean the future of coffee is doomed? No one knows, really. What will happen to the world’s favorite drink remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: coffee in a decade or two will be much more different than it is now. Will it be worse? Will it be better? Why don’t we all just sit back, relax, and sip on some while we wait and see.



The Future of Specialty Coffee and the Next Wave

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