Our experiences researching and writing about the terroir of coffee have been exciting and interesting. As these final two chapters have described, however, our pleasure in the study of the diverse coffee-producing regions is laced with fear and uncertainty about the future of our industry. Most baristas we interview express a strong desire to help do something to mitigate the effects of climate change.
If we look closely at the contributors to greenhouse gas emission in the coffee supply chain, we see that one sector is responsible for over 45% of the entire emissions output (B Killian et al., 2012). Can you guess which one it is? Hint: It’s not the farming, processing, or shipping. It’s not the trucking, roasting, or even the packaging. Forty-five percent of the total carbon footprint of coffee comes from the brewing!
The Carbon Footprint of Brewed Coffee. Source: (B Killian et al., 2012)
Heating water is energy intensive. Baristas can make an immediate difference in the overall footprint of coffee by reducing the volumes of nonessential hot water. We need better, more efficient machines, and we need the use of insulation in coffee boilers to become standard practice. The greatest impact, though, will come from the widespread adoption of renewable sources of electricity. By supporting the adoption of renewable energy sources, baristas will help to preserve the fascinating, diverse terroir of traditional coffee-producing countries.