Among the top Google News search results today for “climate change” is a Reuters article titled, “If your coffee’s going downhill, blame climate change.” The article claims temperatures are becoming too hot for farmers to grow delicious Arabica beans, and they are being forced to shift to growing harsher robusta beans. The article also claims that “freak weather” caused by global warming killed 11 percent of the Arabica beans grown this year in Brazil, the world’s leading producer of Arabica beans. In reality, Arabica production routinely sets new records, and the “freak weather” was excessive cold, not heat.
“Coffee leader Brazil is turning to stronger and more bitter robusta beans, which are hardier in the heat than the delicate arabica, in a sign of how climate change is affecting global markets – and shaping our favorite flavors,” claims Reuters.
“Brazil is the world’s biggest producer of arabica, yet its production has stayed largely flat over the last five years,” Reuters continues. “Meanwhile its output of cheaper robusta – generally grown at lower altitudes and viewed as of inferior quality – has leapt and is attracting more and more international buyers, new data shows.”
First, note the logical fallacy in Reuters’ assertion that global warming is harming Arabica production. Reuters itself admits there is no reduction in production (“production has stayed relatively flat”). The asserted increase in robusta production is occurring as farmers open up new lands – thanks to a warming climate – to robusta production, which “is attracting more and more international buyers.”
So, global warming is not harming production of the expensive and elite-tasting Arabica bean. There are just as many beans now as ever before to produce delicious Arabica coffee that does not “go downhill.” However, a warming climate allows more production of robusta beans that can be grown at half the production cost of Arabica beans. Robusta may not be as tasty as Arabica, but it is less expensive and allows non-elites to drink coffee. Apparently, Reuters believes that allowing the masses to drink coffee priced anything less expensively than a Starbucks latte is a horrible result of global warming.
Yet, Reuters’ dishonesty and misinformation gets worse. Note the claim that Arabica production “has stayed largely flat over the last five years.” That is misleading and dishonest. As documented by the information website Statista, global Arabica bean production has increased by approximately 25 percent since 2005. Moreover, the claim that Arabica production has stayed “relatively flat over the last five years” is misleading because Arabica production absolutely crushed its all-time record five years ago and has impressively maintained that record production ever since.
It gets still worse for Reuters’ honesty, yet better for coffee drinkers. The assertion that Arabica production has stayed “largely flat” over the last five years is itself a misleading and dishonest assessment. Arabica plants produce beans on an on-year/off-year basis. So comparable years to the harvest of five years ago (the 2016/2017 harvest) are the 2018/2019 harvest and the 2020/2021 harvest. Global production of Arabica beans during the record 2016/2017 harvest was 6.06 billion kilograms (101 million 60 kg bags). The 2018/2019 harvest, however was 6.34 billion kilograms (a five-percent increase over 2016/2017). The 2020/2021 harvest was 6.13 billion kilograms (a one-percent increase over 2016/2017). So, Arabica production absolutely crushed its all-time record three cycles ago, and then both of the next two cycles surpassed that record, by an average of a full three percent. Reuters misleadingly describes these impressive new records as “largely flat” production.
In reality, delicious Arabica coffee beans are enjoying a substantial long-term increase in production, with new records being set in virtually every new two-year cycle. Similarly, farmers are regularly setting new production records for the robusta coffee beans that people who can’t afford Starbucks drink. How does that justify the false assertion that global warming is making your coffee taste worse?
Oh, and that part about “freak weather” harming this year’s Arabica crop, such that it may not set yet another new record? As reported by France24, the crop damage resulted from “damaging frosts this week at key plantations in Minas Gerais — a southeastern inland state that produces 70 percent of [Brazil’s] arabica beans. Sub-zero temperatures have ‘sparked defoliation of crops and even kill the youngest plants’ that are crucial for future harvests…”
Yes, it was cold weather that damaged the Arabica crop. Only Reuters and agenda-driven climate alarmists would deceptively call cold temperatures “freak weather” and then blame global warming.
There is one final point that is worth noting. The misinformation reported by Reuters is quite typical of the alarmist climate playbook. Climate alarmists look for things people like and then they invent reasons to scare people by claiming global warming is ruining those nice things. If they have no evidence to support the alarmist claims – which is almost always the case – they simply make up out of thin air preposterous theories and false claims to support their false narrative – as they do here regarding coffee production, coffee taste, and Arabica beans.