If you are anything like me, you simply can’t function without a morning cup of coffee. My family knows better than try to engage me in a conversation before I press the button on our hard-working coffee machine and savour my first espresso of the day.
But there’s a storm brewing in your cup of coffee as I discovered reading the latest report suggesting that wild arabica coffee species in Ethiopia could be facing extinction by the end of the century, mainly as a result of climate change.
This alarming news brought back the memories of my visit to Ethiopia this time last year, where our hosts proudly served amazing coffee made from local varieties. Coffee ceremony is at the heart of Ethiopian community and culture.
Ethiopia is also a country of great diversity, with an estimated number of 6,000 species of higher plants of which 10% are found nowhere else. It is is the origin of cultivated crops, including coffee and teff (used in the traditional injera flat bread), and is a centre of diversity for many crop species such as durum wheat, barley and sorghum.
If Ethiopia’s wild plant varieties disappear, this is really bad news, and not just for coffee lovers.
Obviously, addressing climate change is not something Ethiopia and other coffee producing nations can do alone. The good news, however, is that there are many coffee companies working to preserve biodiversity and improve farmers’ livelihoods, thus helping make your morning routine a little more sustainable.
According to a 2018 report by the International Trade Centre, at least a quarter of all coffee grown is compliant with one of the five largest sustainability standards, and may be on its way to becoming the first sustainable agricultural product.
Since 2003, Nespresso has implemented its AAA Sustainable Quality™ Programme, and has committed to sourcing 100% of its permanent Grand Cru range, including Ethiopian varieties, sustainably.
For its part, Italian company Illy, which named Ethiopian coffee World’s Best at First Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards, is sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.
Watch this video to learn more (and I wish my barista was like Lorenzo!).