Is There Going to Be a Coffee Shortage?

The news went viral last year, when news of droughts hitting Brazil and other South American countries – the world’s foremost suppliers of coffee – sparked fears of a global coffee shortage. Brazil’s coffee industry undoubtedly took a hit starting in 2014, leading to lower quality goods and higher prices.

As climate change wreaks havoc on plantations worldwide, we remain on tenterhooks about the future of the coffee industry. The International Business Times reported just earlier this month that we may be looking at a “chronic long-term shortage of supply.”

However, not everybody agrees that undersupply is imminent. Daniel Bier of the Foundation for Economic Education says the numbers just don’t add up.

Supply shrank, demand grew, and we didn’t have a shortage — thanks to the miracle of the price system, coordinating the behavior of millions of coffee growers, investors, wholesalers, retailers, entrepreneurs, and drinkers around the globe.

In fact, coffee is more abundant than ever. World coffee production has roughly doubled since 1961.

(Read the rest of the writeup here)

So if you ask me, the jury is still out on whether or not there is actually a “shortage.”

There’s no question that climate change is affecting food production all over the world, however. El Nino is a problem faced by agricultural areas worldwide, even here in the Philippines. However, there don’t seem to be reports as of  yet about coffee plantations taking major losses. Many plantations are located in the cooler northern regions of the country, and for the most part it’s plantations in the south that have borne the worst of this weather phenomenon.

This makes me wonder: could the Philippines use the fears of a “coffee shortage” to its advantage, and bring more of its coffee to the world? I know it’s not the nicest thing to say one should cash in on widespread panic, but maybe it’s a good time to position ourselves to the global market as an alternative source.

(Somewhat related: there are fears of a chocolate shortage all over the world. Due to a generally warmer climate in the region, Central American farmers are finding it difficult to keep planting coffee, so they’re planting cacao trees instead. It’s evidence of how the market adjusts and continues to thrive. So maybe non-coffee producing agricultural regions will find themselves able to meet the coffee demand, in turn.)

Baguio Coffee Artist and Environmentalist Vincent Navarro Dies, Aged 23

Vincent Navarro made the news a few years back as an up and coming young artist who uses coffee grounds for making art – not stains, or beans, as other niche artists have been known to do, but grounds, the oft-overlooked aftermath of the global coffee trade.

The news broke only a few days ago that he has died, and the world lost another young, talented artist, who was also a passionate environmentalist. The Kicker Daily article I’ve linked here says he got into coffee art as a way of helping prevent the buildup of garbage in Baguio’s landfills.  (One imagines that in the northern Philippines’ coffee-growing regions, agricultural garbage is a problem.)

His frequent subjects: the coffee farmers of Benguet, the unsung heroes of the industry. Coffee farmed in the Philippine highlands is often organic, relying mainly on the labors and traditional wisdom of the farmers, yet there is little effort made to know them personally and to highlight their struggles.

Coffee grounds are used to make many things, but art is perhaps one of its least popular uses. Navarro was able to take an environmentally friendly material and transform it into a lasting, beautiful way to immortalize a marginalized group.

I’m still researching other uses of coffee grounds myself… I don’t generate a lot of them, but they amount to a lot over time. It feels like I can still do my part in conserving nature and making sure the grounds don’t go to waste… but since I am not very good at art, I may need to find other ways.

My love for coffee and my love for art come together in works by artists like Navarro. Here’s to the hope that his works will be remembered for a long time, and that the messages he embedded in them will reach more people all over the world.

Visual artist Vincent Navarro based in Baguio City died last February 16 at the age of 23 The artist allegedly died due to complications after undergoing surgery He is known for using coffee grounds in a portrait series of Benguet coffee farmers

Source: Baguio visual artist Vincent Navarro dies at 23 | Kicker Daily News