Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities and is the most consumed beverage after water. The global coffee market is worth a staggering 102$ Billion. But how environmentally sustainable is your daily cup of coffee?
Coffee is grown on Coffea trees in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. The trees have very strict growing constraints which makes coffee cultivation highly climate-inadaptable. Indeed, it is forecast that a large percentage (approx. 60%) of current coffee plantations will become unsuitable for coffee cultivation in the coming decades. Simultaneously, the global demand for coffee is estimated to double to triple by 2050 – but where will this new coffee come from? It is expected that the new coffee demand will be met by an increase in land used for coffee cultivation which opens the possibility for coffee-driven deforestation. For example, coffee growing is expected to rise up mountain-sides invading untouched tropical forests and cause deforestation and biodiversity loss. On the other hand, certain “shaded” methods of cultivating coffee in agroforestry systems, where the rainforest is left in-tact, could be considered protective against deforestation. Therefore, we aim to investigate the complex problem of whether coffee could be considered a driver of deforestation.
The journey from the coffee cherry picked straight from a tree in the tropics to a cup of coffee as we know it and its disposal is long and energy-intense. We aim to investigate the CO2 and water footprint of coffee’s life cycle and identify major environmental hurdles in this process – for example, use of fertilizers, transport across the world and different coffee processing steps.
Our client, Chikko not coffee, is developing a novel, indistiguishable coffee-alternative from non-tropical ingredients in collaboration with the University of Wageningen and International Flavors & Fragrances, Incorporated. Drawing on our research, we aim to assess whether this novel non-tropical product could offer a more environmentally sustainable alternative to coffee in terms of deforestation and both CO2 and water footprints.