CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Brazil, a leader in coffee production, has shifted its process due to climate change. The country is now turning to stronger and more bitter robusta beans, which are hardier in the heat than the delicate Arabica beans.
Brazil is known for its production of Arabica beans, but production has been stalled over the last five years. Robusta beans are now a cheaper and more environmentally safe alternative because they are generally grown at lower altitudes and viewed as of inferior quality.
The expansion is challenging Vietnam’s longstanding robusta dominance, while squeezing smaller players, increasingly leaving output concentrated in fewer regions and more vulnerable to price spikes if extreme weather occurs, according to Reuters.
Experts predict that over the coming years the world’s coffee will become harsher and more caffeine-charged robusta.
Enrique Alves, a scientist specializing in coffee seed cultivation at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), said that it might ultimately be thanks to robusta that, “Our daily coffee will never be missing” as the globe warms.
“It is much more robust and productive than Arabica,” he added. “For equivalent levels of technology, it produces almost twice as much.”
Arabica accounts for about 60% of the world’s coffee and is generally sweeter with more variation in flavor, and can be worth more than twice as much as robusta coffee.
Robusta, however, is less refined and offers much higher yields and more resistance to rising temperatures. It is becoming an increasingly attractive option for farmers in Brazil, which overall produces 40% of the world’s coffee.
“The world will in the near future use a lot of Brazilian robusta, I’m sure of that,” said Carlos Santana, Brazil-based head coffee trader for Eisa Interagricola, a unit of ECOM, one of the world’s largest agricultural commodity traders.
Roasters around the world are adapting to the change by adding more Brazilian robusta, known as conillon, to both their ground and instant coffee blends.
Reuters contributed to this story.