Will all this rain affect my coffee drinking indulgence?
Hurricane season has started to produce more storms as it appears that a long period of time without a lot of hurricanes has cycled to an end. With the number of hurricanes recently, one wonders how the coffee production may be affected.
As it turns out, weather or climate does, in fact, affect the production of coffee.
As hurricanes and typhoons hit different parts of the world or the opposite, periods of drought, coffee growing and production is in fact affected.
How is coffee production affected?
Too much rain during a season can cause rot. Too little rain during a season can extend the harvest season until more rain arrives.
Where are most coffee shrubs grown?
Most coffee is grown along the equator from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn.
We must also bring into this discussion the two primary types of coffee, Arabica, and Robusta. Arabica is considered the premium type with better taste properties. Robusta has a more bitter taste.
Why discuss types of coffee in a conversation about weather or climate?
The two types of coffee grow in different altitudes within the growing regions. Arabica grows higher in the mountains. Arabica therefore actually grows in a lower average temperature than Robusta. Robusta can grow in hotter, flatter areas such as the plains.
Does the climate affect the price?
Yes, but not directly. It has more to do with the physical properties of the land.
Arabica is more difficult to harvest because it is grown up on the mountain sides and requires more human harvesters to attend to the crop. Robusta can be harvested with more machinery than Arabica because the land that Robusta grows is flatter.
Three things that affect the coffee taste profile.
1) Climate (sun, rain)
3) Processing method
We’ve discussed how the climate is different for the two types of coffee and how that affects the harvest. The soil is often different in the variety of places that coffee is grown. A specific variety of coffee tree can be grown in similar climates but different soil (e.g. different places on the globe) can make the coffee taste completely different from one place to another.
Weather can also affect the processing. Coffee beans start out as the seed of the fruit of the coffee shrub. The husk and fruit must be stripped from the seed before stable transport can be achieved. There are different processes to part the seed from the husk. One common practice is to soak the cherries in water.
After the seed is separated from the husk the seed must be dried. Many processors lay the coffee out to dry in the sun. Better financed operations can benefit from solar-powered driers. The process of drying coffee beans in the sun can be disrupted by inclement weather. If the beans get packaged while they still have too much water, the beans can rot which requires the entire batch to be destroyed.
So there you have it.
Weather and climate absolutely can affect the enjoyment of coffee. Short supply due to weather can affect the price of coffee. The steps in the coffee supply chain from farm to retail are full of resourceful people that make the best of the conditions that Mother Nature hands them.
Next time you sip your coffee, think of the journey that the beans that you just ground have taken. They have seen a lot!