by Keisiah Dawn Tiaoson | October 19, 2022
Is there any other sound that could make angels listen but the collision of ice cubes as we shake our Starbucks–bought Caramel Macchiato? Is there any aroma more inviting than a freshly brewed hot coffee in a cup from Tom’s? Is there anything more romantic than sharing a cup of Café Americano with your soul mate? Is there anything we can compare to the kinetic energy we get from the ‘legendary’ coffee?
The demand for coffee over the years has had a dramatic increase, and if we are to consider statistics, we can even say that demand for its consumption has a direct relationship with the number of years. Coffee is inarguably a valuable commodity. It isn’t just a stimulant, but a provider of economic income to over 125 million people across the globe.
All of this may sound great, but as we swirl our pricey coffee around in their takeaway cups, be reminded that Starbucks alone uses more than 8,000 paper cups per minute—and most of these end up in the trash. The impact of these paper cups alone in our marine ecosystem is enormous and threatening. Our “but first, coffee” mantra has been so overhyped that we forget its negative side effects on Earth. Not only is this habit driving us closer to a 2050 filled with plastic cups and suffocated marine creatures, but it is also making us hypocrites when we preach the words: “Let the Earth breathe,” while we hold on our left hand a cup of Espresso.
It is to be noted that coffee production and environmental degradation work hand in hand. 68% of the climatic effect of the coffee business is attributable to coffee cultivation. Regardless of where it is produced, coffee bean growing emits the majority of the world’s carbon emissions. The demand for inexpensive coffee has encouraged farmers to embrace the practice of growing coffee directly under the sun, and this has resulted in lower soil quality. Growing coffee under direct sunlight makes plants more susceptible to pests, further pushing coffee farmers to use a lot of pesticides to ensure a healthy harvest. This contributes to the contamination of our land and water supply. Additionally, organic waste from coffee processing plants was found to be a major river pollutant. The discharged waste from the coffee processing plants finding their way into waterways robs aquatic plants and animals of oxygen necessary for their synthesis.
The rapid spread of coffee plantations has given rise to massive deforestation and ecosystem contamination, placing numerous biotic systems in danger—may it be plants or animals. The construction and operation of coffee manufacturing plants has led to the loss of several natural habitats, and thus cornering our ecosystem into a delicate balance on the precipice of a downward spiral.
So, next time, before you purchase a cup of coffee, think twice about the consequences it imposes on the environment. How strange it is to describe coffee – to have a drink is to have a taste of heaven, but unknowingly it brings us closer to hell.