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Sustainable Harvest Founder David Griswold on how to address climate change in 2019

From the January 2019 issue.

David Griswold warns how climate change will impact not only farmers but the retail end of coffee is action is not taken.

The odds stacking up against coffee farmers around the globe are like we’ve never seen, from low prices to an ageing farming population. The greatest among them is climate change, bringing with it rising temperatures, sporadic rainfall, and other shocks, which are wreaking havoc on farm families – and the consistency and quality of their crop.

The first noticeable changes will start in the cup profile and commercial commitment. Climate change will definitely put at risk and challenge relationships. Will coffee roasters expect climate change impacted coffee regions to produce the same profiles of that coffee terroir? Can growers maintain good communication with their buyers about major climate action during the harvest that might impact cup profile? Will roasters create new roast profiles to deal with the possible shifts in flavour?

We must all summon our greater selves and rise to the challenge. If it’s within your power, please do more. Here are five ideas, if you don’t know where to start:


1. Demand transparency. You pay top dollar for coffee. Are those premium prices reaching farmers? If not, farmer livelihoods are at risk, and so is the stability of your supply.

2. Forge deeper relationships. Long-term business relationships are an essential component of successful businesses. Producers and roasters who partner year after year support each other’s growth and prosperity, creating a compelling narrative that can inspire end consumers. 


3. Fund an origin project. Collaborate with producers to help improve cup quality, farm profitability, and family well-being.


4. Join the Partnership for Gender Equity to support greater equity in coffee.


5. Help farmers adapt to climate change by supporting World Coffee Research.

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