Coffee in crisis: The bitter end of our favourite drink?

As we sip our lattes and espressos and read the daily headlines, climate change can seem like a distant threat. But travel a few thousand miles to the source of your caffeine fix, and the turbulence is all too real.

Consider the coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico, recently interviewed by researcher Elisa Frank from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Compared to the gentler showers they were used to, they are now seeing violent downpours that waterlog the plants in their care. "When we were growing up, the rains didn't fall this much," one interviewee told Frank. "The plants produce less. The leaves and fruit fall because of the wetness."

Where farmers once enjoyed stable, mild conditions, the temperature now seesaws between cold that stunts growth, and heat that dries the berries before they can be harvested. Then there are the hurricanes and landslides; sometimes, the mud can swallow up plantations. As one farmer put it: "The weather is very strange. Strange things come that we didn't see before."

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