Does Low Elevation High Quality Coffee Threaten the Rainforest?

Interesting development in Coffee Species research of Coffea stenophylla and Coffea affinishttps://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2020.00616/full

On the surface it sounds like a great thing. However, we can't help but wonder, what the long term impact will be on the rainforest ?

Generally, premium quality arabica is grown at higher altitudes, over 1000 meters above sea level on the mountainsides of the rainforests. The rainforest canopy is beneficial in many ways and provides protective shade from the searing tropical sun, filtering light and allowing Arabica to grow slower in a more temperate microclimate, resulting in much better tasting coffee.

Consumers paying more for this premium coffee is an incentive to keep the forest as a coffee plantation rather than log it for its lumber. If farmers that are not currently growing coffee start planting both of these species, affinis and stenophylla on lower altitude farms, then there will be a sudden increase of coffee plantations on land that is easier to farm. With this increase it will become uneconomical to farm the coffee in the high altitudes of the rainforest. The high grown arabica farms will find themselves unprofitable, and be pressured to log the rainforest land because their coffee cash crop is gone.

Try to think of it this way. It's like the oil industry. When crude drops too low in prices, Canadian refiners have to temporarily shut down because they can not make money at those low prices, but the Middle East has the lowest cost of production and they will and can continue to keep their pumps running because they will still make money at the lower prices. Buying high grown arabica in many ways supports the conservation of the rainforest.



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