Coffee-pocalypse

It is, quite literally, the beginning of the end. For coffee lovers.

Brazil, one of the countries with the highest production rate of Arabica coffee beans, is facing one of the worse droughts it has confronted in 20 years. It has been reported that more than 140 Brazilian cities are being rationed water, with some cities only getting water every three days.

While this is a difficult time for the people of Brazil, the unfortunate situation also has a ripple effect on the better part of the world. Other countries around the world that would normally rely on the import of Brazilian crops are being denied food and resources because of the drought; and the first and foremost crop being affected is coffee beans.

An interview on NPR tells us that in 49 days, southeastern Brazil (where most of Brazil’s crops are grown) has gotten only 11 millimeters of rain. And farmers and weather analysts alike only seem to think that this harsh weather will only accelerate, doing increasingly more damage to the crops as time goes on.

So how does this affect us, the average, everyday coffee drinker? Right now, it may not seem like it does. We go about our business brewing our coffee or buying our daily venti, not even realizing that last Wednesday the price per pound for coffee reached the highest it is has been in over a year at $1.72 a pound. And, unfortunately, prices don’t look like they’re going down anytime soon.

The Washington Post was kind enough to illustrate this with a very depressing graph, indicating the rise of coffee prices escalating throughout the month of March. With Brazil producing 40% of the world’s coffee, this major loss to their crops is a crippling blow to the world’s coffee supply — and not just for this year.

That’s right. It gets worse.

The prime areas for coffee planting in Brazil have been getting increasingly hotter over the past few years, making the weather in these area less and less suitable for coffee production. At this rate, it is estimated that Brazil will lose 10% of it’s coffee bean crop by 2020 and 20% of it’s soybean crop by 2020.

Now, maybe to comfort some of you, most coffee companies (big chain and independent shops alike) order their supply of coffee beans in mass quantities, allowing some wiggle room in these emergency situations. As many reports are insisting, many roasters have enough supply of coffee beans to last them a few months…but should this drought continue to affect the supply of Arabica beans the way it has, we will all be looking at the biggest spike in coffee prices we’ve seen in a decade.

CCTV News conducted an interview with the president of Hackett Financial Advisors, Shawn Hackett, who empahsized the importance of the Arabica bean in global coffee production. Hackett predicted that this year we will receive 50 million bags of coffee beans instead of the expected 60 million bags.

While many people may look at this number and scoff saying, 50 million bags is more than enough! Over reactions all around! Those people are missing the big point hidden behind the global coffee shortage scare: while it may suck a big one that our coffee prices are going to rise soon, it is even more concerning that the climate in Brazil has been gradually advancing to this point of no return. If the environment holds up the way it is, we’re not just going to see a spike in coffee prices for a year, but permanently. As crops such as coffee and soy beans becoming increasingly more desirable, their production under these increasingly difficult conditions will not be able to keep up with demand.

In an interview with The Guardian, Starbucks sustainability chief Jim Hanna comments on the possible long-term effects this climate change could have on the world’s coffee production:

‘”If we sit by and wait until the impacts of climate change are so severe that is impacting our supply chain then that puts us at a greater risk,” Hanna said. “From a business perspective we really need to address this now, and to look five, 10, and 20 years down the road.”‘

So instead of moaning and groaning about our about more expensive coffee (I’m being a hypocrite, I’m totally going to moan and groan) let’s all stay knowledgeable about what’s going on with Brazil and with worldwide coffee production. This will at the very least keep us in the loop on why we’re pitching in that extra dollar per cup or so, and at the very most, it might inspire us to do something.

If anything is going to motivate me to watch my water usage, recycle, and preserve my greenhouse gases as much as possible to impact the environment positively, it’s going to be the potential loss of coffee forever. This is not even a “green” message slipped into a cleverly disguised coffee-related post. It’s a mocha message. If you do your part to improve the environment then you are doing your part to keep coffee around long enough to proudly see your children and grandchildren one day as addicted to caffeine as you are.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Coffee Lovers!

I have found the best thing.

It is called…A coffee-gram.

Instead of sending a giant cookie or a singing Valentine, https://tonx.org/ has created the COFFEE-GRAM. You created a quick profile, choose the coffee you want to send off, put in your Valentine’s address, and they will ship fresh coffee beans you chose to your love.

Now, I’m just saying…And this is just me…Anyone who sends me a coffee-gram, they win. They just won Valentine’s Day.

Luckily, this is a year-round service that Tonx provides! So there’s no need crying today over not getting a coffee-gram, like I will be. There’s 364 other days of the year for me to buy myself my own personalized coffee beans to be shipped right to my door.

That being said, there are still 12 more hours left of Valentine’s Day. Plenty of time for someone to send me a coffee-gram.

Just saying.

The Pros and (although you don’t want to hear them) Cons of Coffee

When I was in high school, I would hear this story a lot from my dad: “Tess, don’t drink coffee. I started young and now I’m addicted, my teeth are ruined, and I have intestinal problems you wouldn’t believe.”

Besides the gross amount of unnecessary information, I had agreed then with my dad. Who wanted to intentionally addict themselves to something that stained your teeth and made your breath smell?

As it turns out, me. Granted, my teeth have taken a hit over the years, but all-in-all, coffee and I live in harmony. But for those who agree with Dad, let’s play devil’s advocate for a second. Coffee, as with most things, has its pros and cons. So let’s put away our biases and check out an article from the online edition of the magazine Eating Well. This article asks the big question that is contested (and ignored) by many champions and critics of coffee: Is coffee beneficial or harmful to your health?

This article, appropriately titled “The Health Benefits and Cons of Coffee” makes a fair argument for both sides of the case. Amid the pros we see a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, heart disease, brain cancer, and diabetes, all from drinking a few cups of joe a day. As it turns out, coffee may be more of a lifesaver than you thought — literally. The Eating Well article states,

“Moderate coffee drinking—between 1 and 5 cups daily—may help reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s disease, studies suggest. How? Coffee’s antioxidants may prevent some damage to brain cells and boost the effects of neurotransmitters involved in cognitive function, say experts. Preliminary studies have noted that as coffee (or tea) intake rises, ­incidence of glioma, a form of brain cancer, tends to drop. Some ­researchers speculate that compounds in the brews could activate a DNA-repairing protein in cells—possibly preventing the DNA damage that can lead to cells becoming cancerous.”

So that’s some good news, coffee lovers! I have to say though, this is my favorite part of the whole thing: before it delves into of those great pros of coffee, the article makes a clear point that all the health benefits listed only come from drinking 1-5 cups of coffee a day. You mean I have to drink more than one cup a day to keep all my memories and decrease my risk of getting an array of fatal diseases? If you say so.

But then, of course, for every piece of good news, there is some bad. The cons listed in this article include trouble sleeping, high cholesterol, negative effects for pregnant women, and the old-as-time transition from caffeine jitters to caffeine addiction. As the article explains (and as probably many of us have experienced first-hand) once you begin to drink coffee, the caffeine restricts the blood vessel in your brain which ultimately gives you those “coffee jitters”, but as you drink more regularly, you need to consume a certain amount every day to get just on a basic level of awareness. It’s like joining any cult, gang, or fight club; it jolts you on the way in, and then you’re stuck there forever.

The way I see it though, drinking coffee is like anything else. If you can’t handle the effects, don’t mess with it. My roommate is terrified of The Muppets, so of course she’s not going to sit around watching re-runs of The Muppet Show all day, she’d have terrible, embarrassing nightmares. I can’t hold my tequila, so do I drink it? Not unless I’m really desperate. If you are sensitive to the effects of coffee (or if you have cholesterol problems or a baby inside of you) then don’t drink it! It all seems pretty simple, but that’s just me.

Besides my dad, I have never before heard anyone bemoan their addiction to coffee. Then again, I have yet to meet every coffee-drinker in the world. I have to ask on the thousand-to-one-chance someone will respond with an answer: Does anyone out there know of someone who had to quit coffee because they were experiencing such negative health effects? Or conversely, does anyone know of anyone who was in a situation where coffee greatly improved their health situation?

Just some food for thought (I tried so hard to come up with a coffee pun there, but it felt so wrong). Feel free to answer or ignore my questions! It would be super cool if you answered. But no pressure.

Greetings, Caffeine Addicts

Hi, I’m Tessa. 20-year-old overachiever and scarf hoarder.

Like any college student, I’m not really doing my day right if I haven’t stopped at Dunkin Donuts to get myself a coffee. Now, I realize that a lot of serious coffee aficionados just wrote me off because I just mentioned that I have dirtied my pallet with Dunkin Donuts. Hear me out.

Coffee and I are in an evolving relationship. We’ve always been really good friends, but we’ve never really gone outside of our comfort zones with each other. Medium hot mocha cream only at DD. Blonde roast cream and sugar at Starbucks. Creme brule macaroon flavored grinds for my Keurig. Basic stuff, right? Well, recently I decided “basic” isn’t good enough.

I rely on coffee. Coffee gives me the willpower to get up in the morning — literally, when I go to bed at night I think, “I can’t wait to wake up and drink a cup of coffee.” Coffee battles away headaches and fatigue; coffee is my knight in shining armor. So, for that reason, I decided I owe it to coffee to expand our relationship. I plan on using this blog to chart my journey with coffee as I try to make our relationship exclusive. I want to try different blends, I want to review different kinds of coffee drinks that I try, I want to experiment with different types of beans and international drinks, I want to compare and contrast those big-name coffee places to some local, independent coffee houses. I’m about to see what coffee has to offer me.

I decided to make this journey a public one instead of a private endeavor because there will always be someone who knows more than I do. Not only do I think it would be fun to see what people have to say about the different kinds of coffee I try or review, but I want to get suggestions from those people! Ya’ll know more than I do, that’s probably a fact I’d stake my life on. I would love to connect with those coffee enthusiasts like myself so we can share our mutual love and so you can help me make my relationship revival with coffee more interesting.

By the end of this blog, I would like to have created a following of coffee-loving, blog-reading strangers who are either laughing at me or trying to help me along. It doesn’t matter, I want as many people as possible to witness my coffee revelations. Like a very cheesy, public marriage  proposal. And, of course, I would like to get my relationship with coffee to the place I want it to be.

So read along. I’m sure to embarrass myself along the way, it should be pretty funny.