Trouble Brewing for Coffee

Beware, coffee lovers: climate change could disrupt your precious morning cup of joe. Coffee beans could lose half of their farmable land by 2050 as temperatures and weather patterns become more extreme and less predictable. This could lead to scarcer yields and pricier brews. But there is hope that unique varieties and novel farming techniques could change coffee’s destiny. The transition will require massive investments and many observers question whether the industry can meet the challenge.

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Podcast Host and Producer
Episode Guests
  • Aaron P. Davis
    Senior Research Leader of Crops and Global Change, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Amanda Grossi
    Senior Africa Regional Manager, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • Jonathan Morris
    Research Professor in History, University of Hertfordshire

Show Notes

The world loves coffee, but the crop is facing a new challenge as climate change threatens traditional agricultural practices globally. The consequences go beyond risking coffee lovers’ daily cup by endangering small-scale farmers who rely on the crop for their livelihoods and economic survival. Coffee is getting even more popular, but scientists and farmers are just starting to think about how to modernize agricultural techniques and reintroduce more sustainable varieties for new climates.  


From CFR


World101, “How Climate Change Is Threatening the Coffee Industry” 


Alice C. Hill and Madeline Babin, “What the Historic U.S. Climate Bill Gets Right and Gets 



From Our Guests


Jonathan Morris, Coffee: A Global History


James Hoffmann, “Coffee, Climate Change, & Extinction: A Conversation With Dr. Aaron Davis at Kew


Building a Climate Resilient Coffee Economy for Ethiopia, Kew


Read More


Tatiana Schlossberg, “Coffee and Climate Have a Complicated Relationship,” New York Times


Sarah Gibbens, “What Climate Change Means for the Future of Coffee and Other Popular Foods,” National Geographic


Anthony King, “Forest Plantations Are a Potent Blend for Coffee Production,” Horizon


Watch and Listen


The Global Coffee Crisis Is Coming,” Vox


Amazing’ New Beans Could Save Coffee From Climate Change,” Voice of America


Global Governance

In 2022, several colossal events dominated the headlines, most prominently the war in Ukraine and the worldwide inflation that it helped spark. But beyond Ukraine, events with global implications continued to unfold. In this episode, Why It Matters checks in with three CFR fellows and CFR President Richard Haass to understand the least-covered stories of 2022 and to take a peek at what could await the world in 2023.

Technology and Innovation

For years, the world thought of the internet as a borderless zone that brought people from around the world together. But as governments pursue very different regulatory paths, the monolithic internet is breaking apart. Now, where there had been one, there are at least three internets: one led by the United States, one by China, and one by the European Union.

International Organizations

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has kicked off in Qatar, and billions of fans worldwide are tuning in to the world’s most popular live event. And yet as in years past, the Qatar Cup is transpiring under the shadow of controversy.

Top Stories on CFR


China has so far been able to feed its 1.4 billion people, but climate change and a dependence on imports could pose challenges.


The main battle tanks that the United States and Germany have agreed to provide Ukraine will help its forces punch through Russian fortifications and retake lost territory.

Sub-Saharan Africa

PEPFAR’s twentieth anniversary should prompt reflection on some inconvenient truths for U.S.-Africa relations.