back to top

    Is Arabica Coffee’s Reign Over Our Domestic Market Coming to an End?

    As the global demand for coffee continues to climb, particularly in emerging markets like China and Africa, the industry faces unprecedented challenges that could reshape production and consumption patterns worldwide. Experts warn that the combined pressures of climate change and increasing demand are setting the stage for significant disruptions and ethical dilemmas in the coffee supply chain.

    Climate change is particularly impactful, threatening the quality and availability of premium coffee varieties such as Arabica, which is known for its flavor and aromatic superiority. Krzysiek Rzyman, a co-author of a guide to Polish coffee houses, notes that Arabica’s position is being compromised due to its sensitivity to climate variability. This has led to a gradual shift toward hardier varieties such as Robusta and Liberica. Similarly, Jakub Jakubczak, an analyst at BNP Paribas, highlights how the prestigious stature of Arabica is declining as reflected by its falling prices on global exchanges.

    The unpredictability of weather patterns has not only affected coffee but the broader food market as well. Rzyman shared a poignant anecdote from his recent visit to an Indonesian coffee plantation where workers expressed fears about their future employment due to the unstable climate.

    Another significant challenge is regulatory, with the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) mandating coffee producers to verify that their cultivation areas are not contributing to deforestation. While the regulation aims to combat environmental degradation, it introduces technical and financial hurdles for producers, particularly small-scale farmers, potentially leading to higher coffee prices in Europe. Rzyman and Jakubczak both express concerns that poorly crafted laws might inadvertently harm the very communities they intend to protect.

    Meanwhile, in China, the surge in coffee popularity has led to a rapid increase in the number of coffee shops, including global chains like Starbucks. This burgeoning market is influencing not only local but also global coffee trends. China’s venture into coffee cultivation is a development to watch, as its potential for export remains uncertain, according to Jakubczak.

    Innovation in response to rising coffee prices is also emerging, exemplified by a Singapore-based startup creating coffee from grain-based products. While Jakubczak sees this as a potential low-cost alternative to instant coffee, Rzyman believes it will not replace premium coffee but may find a niche among mass-market consumers.

    More in section