A Coffee Shortage May Be Coming — Here's What That Means For You

mbg Editorial Assistant By Eliza Sullivan
mbg Editorial Assistant
Eliza Sullivan is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She has bachelor's degrees in journalism and english literature from Boston University.
A Coffee Shortage May Be Coming — Here's What That Means For You

Image by Morsa Images / iStock

If you're one of the 54% of American adults who drink coffee, you may want to pay attention to this: The International Coffee Organization's (ICO) latest report indicates that there's likely to be a coffee shortage in the next calendar year.

Before you panic too much, this probably doesn't mean you won't be able to get your morning (or afternoon) cup of coffee. The projected deficit is expected to be around 502,000 bags of coffee, which is only a small portion compared to the amount of coffee produced annually.

So, where are we going to see this deficit? It'll hit hardest in the wallet, most likely. The ICO also reported that coffee prices rose 10.1% in November, and they remained higher than a dollar per pound every day of the month. Global exports of coffee have also fallen compared to previous years, which may account for the increase in expenses.

On average, the United States coffee-drinking population spends around $40 billion on it each year, according to Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Already a major industry across the country, coffee only continues to grow more popular. The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) recently reported that the overall United States coffee market grew by 8% in 2018, and it seems it has only continued to grow in 2019.

Trends in the industry are changing, and people are consuming more gourmet and specialty coffee than ever before, according to the National Coffee Association. Their report in March showed that, for the first time, gourmet coffee accounted for more than half of coffee drinkers' cups.

The growth of the market, combined with challenges facing coffee farmers and producers as a result of climate change, means there is simply less coffee to go around. And with less coffee to go around, prices will rise. In their report, the ICO said that "a mix of factors, including unfavorable weather patterns and prolonged low international prices, have contributed to a decline in shipments across all regions."

A 2016 report from the (now closed) Climate Institute in Australia predicted that by 2050, over half of the land currently used to grow coffee will no longer be suitable and that by 2080 coffee may be extinct in the wild. They also mentioned in the same report that consumers were likely to face shortages. They specifically called attention to "rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns," which affect "coffee yields, quality, pests, and diseases" in the plants.

There's always a chance next year's predicted shortage might not happen, but research indicates that it's only a matter of time before these deficits become real. Luckily, sustainability is already trending in the coffee industry and with consumers, as more and more people opt for sustainable options.

Even small changes can make a difference: For you three-cups-a-day people, here's a list of our favorite reusable coffee cups to help you make your habit more environmentally friendly.

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