Adventures of a Coffee Trainer by Emma Haines

Adventures of a Coffee Trainer by Emma Haines

Climate change has been in the news a lot lately.

Well, to be fair, it’s been a pretty newsworthy item for about the last thirty years, but of late, people seem to be really starting to get the message. I mean, even President Trump has retracted his original stance (denial) and has stated he no longer believes it to be a hoax. So we know things really must be hotting up…

To better understand what this means to coffee, many organisations have been researching the impact of climate change extensively for years, such as World Coffee Research, the ICO, Fairtrade and MarketWatch to name a few.

With researchers on the ground at origin, we know the impact is pretty stark. For example, invasive pests, drought, landslides, erosion and crop disease as well as the growing space for Arabica becoming restricted (effectively moving higher up the mountain) mean farmers are struggling more than ever (which in turn leads to an even more unstable C price, Emma Haines Blog 19 Sept,2018).

MarketWatch reported from Risaralda in Colombia earlier in the year and stated that these farmers see climate change as ‘nothing less than an existential threat’. With many growers saying they noticed a difference in the flowering and fruiting cycle of their coffee plants.

Whilst at first glance, this may not seem overly dire to us non-agriculturalists, it has a knock on effect for those growing at high-altitude, off the beaten track, as they are not then able to harvest at the same time. This means uncertainty for labour requirements and transportation, as it becomes more difficult to organise pick ups/drop offs to the local mill or auction house, for example.

As well as the unpredictability of the seasons, there is an impact on the final cup. An increase in temperature means the premature ripening of the cherry, which in turn means a loss of some of the stunning flavours we have come to know and love in our daily drink.

Although there is no one answer to solving climate change, it’s important that as a community, we pull together.

As a retailer, barista, buyer or manager, you have the power to make a difference. Giving sites a ‘green review’ by looking at ways to save energy (that eco mode button on the espresso machine is a great start), concentrating on each segment of the business and communicating with suppliers goes a long way.

Introducing more seasonal, plant based food items onto a menu, cutting down (or better still, cutting out) single use plastics, offering initiatives to customers for bringing their own travel cups and handing out used coffee grounds for composting (your customers will love you even more for it) are great ways to start overhauling your green credentials.

Educating staff on reducing waste to landfill, and encouraging them to promote your efforts to customers will help share responsibility for cutting your carbon footprint.

If we want to continue enjoying the nations favourite hot drink, then we must reach a point where we all choose to be greener. Not just for marketing purposes, but because we actually care about our planet. After all, it’s the only one with coffee on it…


  • Emma has worked in hospitality and catering training for the last 10 years. For the last five years, she has focused on coffee training, in particular specialty coffee training, and how to incorporate specialty elements into commercial environments. She works all over Europe and beyond, and is a resident trainer at London School of Coffee.


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