A new documentary about how climate change will affect both coffee producers in Colombia and consumers in the developed world will air on German television this weekend. (Sunday, 6/11-4:30pm).

Climate change in the supermarket aims to show how the often abstract news of failed harvests in distant countries can have an impact on the proverbial man-in-the-straße.

The program joins CIAT’s Christian Bunn in Colombia’s Nariño department, an important Arabica-producing area, to find out how German coffee drinkers are likely to be affected by rising temperatures and erratic rains there.

During the visit, drought-affected farmers recount how failed harvests have affected their families and livelihoods. Lacking the financial means to make their farms more resilient, many are caught in what Bunn describes it as a “poverty trap”, which some are attempting to escape by abandoning coffee altogether.

With global demand for coffee continuing to rise, it means consumers everywhere are likely to face reduced coffee quality and higher prices.

Bunn argues that instead of the burden of climate change adaptation resting on smallholder coffee farmers, the risks and costs should be shared by all of those in the coffee value chain – from farmers to roasters and, yes, consumers too.

This “supply chain inclusive” view also requires the close cooperation of the public and private sectors on issues like development and dissemination of more climate-resilient coffee varieties, weather insurance, and voluntary certification schemes.

And if you thought Germany’s many coffee drinkers might literally decide to Abwarten und Tee trinken – “Keep calm, carry on and drink tea”, CIAT research shows that might not be a great option either.


CIAT, together with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is working to translate climate science into adaptation strategies for farmers and the international supply chains of which they are a part. With an initial focus on a range of coffee and cocoa-producing areas of Africa and Latin America, the scientists hope to develop locally-relevant options for Climate-Smart Agriculture, that can be adopted broadly. See full list of CCAFS donors.

The project Climate smart coffee and cocoa: from theory to practice (CSCC) is led by The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Additional CIAT projects on coffee and climate change adaptation are supported by USAID’s Feed the Future program, and World Coffee Research. The farmers visited during the documentary take part in the CRS-led Borderlands project.

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