Does Coffee Production Impact Ecosystems’ Regenerative Capacities?

By Tatjana Farjadi

Faculty Mentor: Professor Amrita Dhar

Arabica coffee beans are traditionally grown in cooler shaded environments, which benefit the quality of the beans. Shade-grown coffee beans also tend to have many positive impacts on surrounding environments, as the protection from the sun that these beans require, increases the variety of plants and animals around the coffee plant. However, reductions in income that coffee farmers and growers have received over decades have had impacts on the growing process of arabica coffee beans, with researchers and analysts examining whether this has impacted farmers to seek out more efficient ways to grow these beans that differs from the traditional shade-grown process. This transition out of shade-grown coffee, as researchers examine, allows for an increased quantity of beans produced which ensures more profit and income at the end of the production cycle, but might have adverse effects on surrounding environments. This research project puts the shade-grown preference of arabica coffee beans to the test, examining whether arabica coffee production has a significant positive or negative impact on the environment. The environmental indicator used in this research is biological capacity which measures the ability of ecosystems to regenerate an ongoing supply of renewable resources and to absorb waste from surrounding populations.

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