The changing climate has affected different regions in differing ways, but one of the crops hardest hit in its home territory is coffee. Slightly warmer conditions in the prime growing areas have resulted in meagre crops, and increasing problems with pests that thrive in hotter, humid weather.
It’s widely believed that the surge of innovation and creativity that sparked the industrial revolution in Britain and Europe was due to the ‘liquid networks’ that formed around drinking coffee, and other beverages. Caffeine is one of the best known benign stimulants, and certainly the most popular.
Hubs of innovation like Boston and Silicon Valley can hardly function without their caffeine fix, and in cities like Seattle drinking coffee has been elevated to an art form. Corporate giants like Starbucks have built their global empires on our addiction to coffee, and now that China has taken to the beverage, demand worldwide far exceeds the supply of top quality beans.
Which makes the current slump in coffee crops a real crisis for technology innovation and creativity on all fronts. Deprived of our caffeine stimulants, we are listless and uninspired. If we turn to other, less benign drugs, we risk adverse side effects and anti-social behaviour.
Perhaps, before our creative juices dry up, we will come up with an innovative solution to the coffee crisis. Urban farming, hydroponics, climate controlled warehouses lit with yellow LEDs, genetic modification… There must be a method of producing the best coffee in the strongest markets. Of course, prices will skyrocket, but they already have!