Coffee To The End of The Earth
How we're destroying the world and our morning routines.
According to Bobby Vee, livin' ain't easy. It seems like he's right, too, but if you ask me lovin's twice as tough. He didn't ask me though, and I understand because it was 1967 and a twinkle in my father's eye might have cramped his style, which was plentiful at the time.
I can only speculate if he knew how hard we'd be trying today to do just that. Life is hard enough with having to worry about things like whether Liz Truss will be able to make up her mind about economic policy, or if Alex Jones will pay up on his billion dollars of damages.
It could be worse though. All of Pakistan could be flooded right now. Instead, it's only a third. Or the bottom half of Florida could be wiped off the map, getting all their electoral votes wet before they can bring them to Washington to dispute in front of Congress.
Despite these hardships, we're getting by. We're stayin' alive, as they say. Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother, you're stayin' alive.
When it comes to staying alive, there are a few things that are vital for all of humanity. Food for energy and nutrition, shelter to protect us from the elements, and a social safety net so we can thrive through cooperation. And for everything else, you're going to need coffee – if for nothing else, for the antioxidants, which I'm told are essential to removing damaging oxidizing agents in people like us. In short, they prevent things like cancer and heart disease.
I'm no Juan Valdez, but I know what's good for me, and that's why I drink coffee every day without exception. To not get cancer. But also because I am completely unwilling to see what happens if I don't drink coffee. Regardless, it's a bucket list item for me to not get cancer, and the simplest way to prevent it happens to taste good and help wake me up in the morning.
Not everyone likes coffee though, and that's okay. There are alternatives for those of you that avoid the daily grind, but options seem scarce when you consider none of them are coffee. In the same way that Meta provides a means for a social connection, despite it causing neck pain, chaffing, and needing to be charged every two hours, coffee also has its surrogates, like tea or dirty water and herbs like matcha. In either case, it's a disappointing option that seems to yield only a fraction of the results.
However you find it, we need the healing power of the antioxidants in coffee. Get enough and you've just dropped dying down a few notches on Fate's to-do list for your life. No guarantees of course, because we've all known a coffee drinker or two to die. (My grandfather in particular didn't die "of coffee", he died "with coffee" – which is the way I want to go too, to be honest).
Okay, I'm being a little hard on you Snapple drinkers, but it's not without reason. Studies continue to remind us that antioxidants are critical for maintaining one's health, even preventing aging. According to Healthline, coffee is one of the largest sources of antioxidants in the Human diet. And that's just the low-hanging fruit on the Coffea Arabica plant.
Coffee's health benefits are far and wide but the headline is this. We need coffee to minimize dying, or at a minimum to delay it and look better on our way. Coffee is critical for the survival of the human species. If dinosaurs had coffee, we might be having a very different conversation today.
In other coffee news, it was announced this week in my hometown of Indianapolis that a flagship Starbucks location is vacating its longstanding hot spot on Monument Circle in the center of downtown. The location used to be buzzing with lines out the door seeking their first joe of the day, but over the last two years, the lines of coffee drinkers have converted to lines of coke, and joe is the name that an unhoused resident calls everyone that walks by when he asks them for money.
The increased homeless population, often people with mental illnesses and drug abuse problems, finds themselves lining the entryways to every public place, often in hopes of capturing the spare change of a selfless passerby or the whiff of a ladies perfume, or Elon Musk's for those who prefer the scent of burnt hair.
Starbucks cited safety issues for its employees when it shuttered its doors on The Circle. But with the above-described health benefits of coffee, I'd say it's a safety issue that they are not there. This is hopefully a need that will be met by someone with a more savory offering like the fine folks of Indianapolis-based Calvin Fletcher, who not only offer better coffee but also, better company, especially if you happen to be down on your luck (including being without a home). I recommend you buy a bag here immediately if not sooner, simply to ensure they can keep doing just that.
I won't miss the Starbucks location on The Circle, mostly because I don't like the taste of burnt rubber and cheap cigars. But there's a bigger issue when it comes to coffee these days, and it's not just that pumpkin spice has no pumpkin in it. The real issue is that coffee consumption continues to go up, but production has shrunk.
According to CoffeeAffection.com, 66% of Americans drink coffee every day. That's more than tap water, something we couldn't live without before 1994 and now something we won't be caught dead drinking any longer. My wife, for one thinks tap water tastes like lead, however, personally, I've always thought it was the other way around. Nonetheless, we're a reverse osmosis house here, no tap, even in our coffee. Our coffee intake has held steady, but what we're noticing is that if you can put enough sugar and milk in something, you can get anyone to drink it, and that's why coffee sales are going up. For the rest of the world, consumption has increased by 3.3 percent over the last year following steady increases over the last few decades. Coffee production, however, decreased by 2.1 percent last year.
Because the causes of farming loss vary and can include labor and supply chain issues, production may improve next year from its most recent downturn, but still, coffee farming continues to get more complicated. The Inter-American Development Bank points out that global rising temperatures have gradually reduced the land area where coffee can be grown. In fact, one Swiss study calculates that the viable coffee farming land in Brazil will decrease by about 79% by 2050 as the altitude favorable for growing coffee continues to change over time. Changes in temperature have already shifted the locations of coffee farms, and this has a considerable cost. Not just groggy mornings and cancer but also the jobs for a country like Brazil which produces the most coffee in the world and depends on beans as its biggest export.
If coffee production decreases by 2 percent each year, as some have calculated, you'll more than likely be dead before coffee becomes as scarce as a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. Your children's children may not remain unscathed. They don't need a bottle of Pappy as much as they need to prevent cancer.
I know I sound like a real buzz kill, but this is an important issue. Each year marks more undeniable evidence of climate change, with waning coffee farming land only being the most depressing. When it comes to the climate, fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas have the biggest negative impact on our climate. The increases in greenhouse gasses caused by emissions result in greater swings in weather, lending to more damage to crops, and in recent years, catastrophic losses of crops across coffee-producing countries. If the future of the earth is a future without coffee, I've not quite decided if I want to live in such a world, but I assure you, it will be a big adjustment for me.
Climate change is a complex issue. One minute we're talking about cow flatulence and the next we're trying to figure out whether solar power works in the dark. But one thing is true, the scale of the issue will take substantial action, a level that can only be achieved with significant government policy. Far be it from me to ruin every Libertarian's day but our great-grandchildren will be falling asleep at their desks without decisive strategies from every major government in the world. More importantly, I don't want to lose my buzz or youthful good looks.
Let's take a moment to see if we can figure out a solution. I'm guessing there's a cheaper option than colonizing mars, but we're going to need to do something quickly. My crow's feet are depending on you all to help me figure this out.