The Washington Post

Starbucks coffee, chocolate threatened by climate change


A coffee picker holds freshly picked coffee beans at Old Tavern Blue Mountain Coffee Estate in Jamaica, a brand one scientist says is losing its characteristic flavor as a result of climate change. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

According to Jim Hanna, the company’s sustainability director, bean farmers already have seen the effects of climate change, including changing rainfall patterns, severe weather, and the presence of new pests. Hanna announced Friday:

What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road — if conditions continue as they are — is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain.

Always keen to be ahead of the times, Starbucks appears to have a back up plan in place, in case this whole coffee thing doesn’t work out.

MSN reported yesterday that Starbucks was eyeing plans to start a juice bar business, which would add smoothies, wheatgrass, and acai to the menu.

The company has even hired one of the New York’s trendiest juice gurus, Yohana Bencosme, former manager of East Village bar Liquiteria, to run the new business. The announcement triggered a 3.5% drop in the stock price of Jamba Juice owner Jamba (JMBA).

Starbucks’ concern over the future of coffee is understandable, with the nonprofit the Union of Concerned Scientists estimating that coffee sellers increased their prices by 25 percent or more in the past year.

And Gawker points out that pretty soon, coffee will only be affordable to the one percent. Along with $5 wheat grass juices.

Update, 12:38 p.m.:

In an open letter to climate change deniers and skeptics, Pacific Institute CEO Peter Gleick alerts us to another necessity of life that could go away as a result of climate change, writing:

It now appears that on top of all of the other potentially catastrophic, costly, damaging, or dangerous impacts of human-caused climate change, there is a very serious risk that it will threaten the production of chocolate.

Gleick points to a new analysis by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research that has found that as temperatures continue to rise and rainfall patterns change, the world will suffer a massive loss of area needed to grow cocoa.

As Gleick points out, this news could very well be the last (chocolate) straw.

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