There are very few people out there who, when they sit down to drink a lovely cup of coffee brewed in their French Press coffee maker should stop and think about the impact that coffee production has on the environment. In fact, you will be surprised at just how detrimental the production of coffee actually is. Over the past few decades, coffee consumption has risen sharply too. This means that we are now doing more damage to the environment than ever before. On this page, we are going to take a little look at how coffee growing impacts the environment.
Change in coffee production
In the past, coffee was grown high up in mountains and under the shade of trees. In fact, it continued like this up until recently. However, with the demand for coffee being stronger than ever before, this changed. Farmers believed that this method was too inefficient. It really is, to be fair. There is no way that a coffee farmer will be able to keep up with demand using traditional growing methods. Instead, they are opting for something known as ‘sun cultivation’.
With sun cultivation, the coffee is grown on a large plantation. For this to happen, huge areas of forest need to be cleared out. There can’t be a canopy in order for this to be effective. When you clear out large areas of trees, this is known as deforestation. Deforestation has a massive impact on the area. The habitat of animals will be completely wiped out. In fact, it is likely that many species will end up going extinct due to increased coffee production.
During coffee production, the beans need to be processed. The coffee processing plants are known to pollute the water. Yes, the waste dumped is organic, but this does not mean that it is good. The coffee can have a huge impact on water systems. Perhaps the biggest impact is what it does to aquatic plants. It will starve them of oxygen. When the plants have no oxygen, they die out. This means that the animals which rely on them for food will be unable to eat. They will die out too. The result is that areas where coffee waste is ‘dumped’ will become desolate of life. It will take years upon years for anything to thrive in those areas again.
Traditional methods of growing coffee did not require chemicals. When chemicals were used, they tended to be kept to the minimum. However, sun cultivated coffee has no protection. This means pesticide after pesticide is dumped on it. These pesticides will soak into the surrounding area. This, again, is going to kill off life. In addition to this, the chemicals will start to leak into local waterways, destroying life there too.
Millions of tons of waste is produced by the coffee industry each year. While a lot of this waste gets reused, some is just dumped. There is nowhere to put it. It fills up land, again, ensuring that nothing will be able to live there.