How Biodiversity Affects the Coffee Industry

How Biodiversity Affects the Coffee Industry

February 15, 2022

What is a morning without a cup of coffee? 

Coffee, it’s the drink that many of us consume every day, but what if one day you woke up and it wasn’t there. So many of us rely on coffee to get us through the day! Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, it’s a billion-dollar industry! Now imagine if one day coffee was unable to be grown… What now? Biodiversity plays a huge role in the coffee industry. Many coffee farmers’ livelihoods rest in the growth, production, and sale of coffee beans. 

Biodiversity, what is it?

Biodiversity is concerned with all forms of life on Earth and focuses on their evolution, ecological, and cultural processes. This can include anything from ecosystems to genes, humans to organisms, and plants to animals. Existing today, there are an estimated 8.7 million species of plants and animals. Out of the 8.7 million, there are only 1.2 million species that have been discovered and identified so far. Each ecosystem contains many different species that are unique to that ecosystem. For example, antelopes, snakes, beetles, and other species can exist in a grassland ecosystem. Whereas, a tropical rainforest ecosystem will contain completely different types of species, plants, and animals, etc.

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity exists in most aspects of our lives, and without it, Earth would not be able to exist. All of Earth’s species are always working together to survive and maintain ecosystems. Human use, knowledge, and beliefs influence and in turn are influenced by biodiversity, thus, biodiversity is important to our wellbeing. Biodiversity plays a significant role in maintaining a diverse and healthy planet. 

There are many things that biodiversity provides for us that we need as humans to survive. Our basic human needs such as food, shelter, fuel, and medicine. Whereas ecosystems provide crucial elements such as pollination, seed dispersal, climate regulation, water purification, nutrient cycling, and control of agricultural pests. Sadly, all of the amazing things that biodiversity provides for us are also all the things that are being threatened. 

Threats to biodiversity

More and more we are seeing the biodiversity of the Earth in jeopardy. While the Earth has always been changing and evolving, human use has begun to increase that at a rapid pace. We have seen massive biodiversity loss and ecosystem changes that have significantly increased as a result of human consumption. Other activities include pollution, climate change, habitat loss, unsustainable resource use, and population growth. As a result of these threats, the amount of species that are threatened or have gone into extinction has increased.

Biodiversity in the Coffee Industry

More than 25 million people in tropical ecosystems depend on coffee to survive. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is typically grown in tropical and subtropical regions. Due to the increase in market demand for coffee, traditional farming techniques have been left behind, and the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and new farming technologies have been adopted. These new farming practices have had negative impacts on biodiversity in coffee-growing regions. Some of these include deforestation, water pollution and contamination, agrochemical usage, and soil quality. 


One method of coffee growing called “sun-grown coffee” has resulted in over 2.5 million acres of forest cleared in Central America. While sun-grown coffee produces the highest yield, it drastically eliminates trees as well as a collection of insects and animals. Deforestation not only impacts this region significantly but causes other environmental harm.

Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticide Usage

Chemical inputs have been significantly increased due to the high demand for coffee. These inputs lead to the contamination of waterways and aquifers. Contamination of these waterways and aquifers also poses a serious threat to the environment and the process of growing coffee beans. Not to mention the soil quality suffers when such harmful chemicals are being used. 

Traditional vs New Farming Practices

Traditional coffee farming techniques are sustainable and aid in the conservation of biodiversity in the growing regions. Whereas, new farming techniques have negatively impacted the biodiversity in these growing regions. Due to the increased market demands for coffee beans, coffee farmers have been forced to switch to these new farming techniques which have proven to be more harmful to the environment. These new farming methods often come with extra expenses, and many coffee farmers have become reliant on environmentally and economically costly inputs such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers. These methods and pesticides are costly often putting coffee farmers into more financial debt. At Road Coffee, through partnerships like Fi-lan’thro-pe, we help empower coffee farmers to reestablish their roots in sustainable agriculture and reconnect with the land. 

Putting it all into perspective, can you even begin to imagine the effects that biodiversity has on the coffee industry? 

Coffee, it’s the drink that so many of us consume every day, but what if one day you woke up and it wasn’t there. Most of us don’t have a second thought about not being able to consume coffee until we are unable to consume coffee. Biodiversity is a large factor in ensuring that coffee bean plants have an environment in which they can grow. If the conditions start to worsen or are less than favorable, the coffee beans plants will be unable to grow. Many factors like humans, climate change, and pollution are threatening the Earth’s biodiversity. If it continues at such a rapid pace, coffee with our morning muffin may become rarer and rarer. 

At Road Coffee, we are helping our farmers move towards independence and freedom by educating them, and providing them with the necessary tools to do so! Learn more about the effects climate change has on the coffee industry. 

Don’t miss out on trying some of our coffee today! With the help of our partners at Fi-lan’thro-pe, we have been able to open new markets in Laos. Try our Laos coffee. Through our partnership with COOP Peru we have provided fermentation tanks for coffee farmers to improve the quality of their coffee, try out Peru coffee! 


Author Natasha Layton