Coffee is a notoriously finicky crop, requiring just the right amount of light, heat, and moisture. That makes coffee farmers especially vulnerable to climate change.
A recent study in Kenya, Mexico, Peru, and Nicaragua showed that higher temperatures are forcing growers uphill at an average rate of three to four meters per year. Peruvian coffee harvests dropped 30 percent since 2008, and Brazilian growers are considering relocating their operations to cooler regions.
Oakland-based Peet's Coffee & Tea buys coffee beans from many regions affected most by climate change, so we spoke to Shirin Moayyad , director of coffee purchasing, about how the company is dealing with the strain on its suppliers.
Atlantic: Recent research has shown that rising temperatures are pushing small coffee growers farther up mountains and, in some cases, forcing them to relocate or grow different varieties of beans. How have these developments affected Peet's?
Moayyad: Peet's has always bought such expensive coffee that I don't think, for us, it makes much of a difference. Because we're buying such high-quality beans, we're already buying really high-altitude coffee. If I wanted to hide my head in the sand, I could. But I'm not interested in doing that. In fact, I think in the coffee industry there are huge opportunities to do things for the environment.