Report: World Coffee Supply Could Be Threatened By Climate Change

Climate change has been blamed for killer hurricanes, sea level rise, and drought, but a new report suggests the effects of climate change might hit the world's caffeine supply. Nearly 100 percent of the world's Arabica coffee growing regions could become unsuitable for the plant by 2080, according to the study, an open-access peer-reviewed online journal.

"Arabica coffee is closely tied to narrow environmental parameters, and like the vast majority of coffee species, it has a restricted and specific distribution," the study's authors write. "This species is sensitive to environmental variables, particularly temperature and precipitation and quickly become stressed in degraded habitats."

With temperatures estimated to increase by between 1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the fragile plant might become increasingly expensive and difficult to grow, especially in places such as Ethiopia and Kenya.

In that worst-case scenario, nearly all of the world's native Arabica coffee would die out. Under more conservative estimates, about 65 percent of the regions used to grow the coffee would become unsuitable for it.

Some commercial farmers would likely be able to move their operations to other areas or would be able to overcome climate change with artificial cooling techniques, but wild Arabica is generally considered to be much more suitable for making high-quality coffee.

If Arabica becomes impossible to raise in its native areas, it could wreak havoc on the economies of the mainly third-world countries in which it grows. Coffee is the world's most popular drink and is the second most-traded commodity in the world, behind oil.