Early on Tuesday, July 20th, 2021, Brazil was hit by a cold snap of unprecedented intensity.The coffee harvest in three areas - Paraná, São Paulo and Minas Gerais - was badly damaged. This is the worst frost in Brazil since 1994, destroying a large number of new coffee plants (up to 2 years old), while older plants will have to be pruned which renders them unable to produce coffee in time for the next harvest. The damage is so widespread that it will take weeks before an accurate assessment of the true impact can be made.
What does this mean?
First and foremost, it's devastating to the Brazilian coffee farmers who've just seen their means of income disappear for an undetermined period of time. It is assumed that coffee prices will increase but that may not be the case just yet. Other areas in Brazil also produce coffee in large quantities, so they may be able to offset some of the losses. However, other obstacles still stand in their way. Lack of rain, hailstorms and COVID have all played their part in making coffee production difficult.
Data collected over the last few decades has become increasingly unreliable as unprecedented weather events become a part of life. This brings us to the larger issue at hand - climate change. It's affecting every aspect of our lives, from the cars we drive to the energy we consume. Now, it's also affecting the way we enjoy our coffee.
One thing we need to be sure of - climate change is here and it's here to stay. The question is, what are we doing about it? Stay tuned.
Photos by Mariana Veloso at Veloso Coffee, Al Saqr General Trading and Communicaffe International