If melting polar ice caps and a deforested Amazon seem too far away to be real, many consumers may soon get an up-close and personal taste of climate change in their coffee cups. Coffee bean prices are about to spike.

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It’s kind of like that story of a butterfly flapping its wings having far-reaching consequences. But in this case, it’s a cold snap in Brazil, piling on top of droughts, mixed with COVID-19 supply chain issues — and before you know it, the price of coffee could hit $4.44 per kilogram. A very unlucky number, indeed. In July, a bout of cold weather in a major arabica coffee-producing part of Brazil ruined a third of the coffee crop.

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While frosts frequently happen in summer, this year coffee producers in part of Minas Gerais state were surprised by the severity of freezing temperatures driven by an unprecedented Antarctic front. Climate change seems to be driving the extreme weather in Brazil — and around the world. Coffee farmers are worried that Brazil will never get back to its normal seasons. The country has been plagued by a series of droughts and hasn’t had a typical rainy season for more than a decade now.

“Most farmers have never seen anything like it,” said Brazilian ex-pat and coffee merchant Andre Selga, as reported by The Guardian. “Frost in that area is normal but not at that intensity and not at that altitude. I’ve heard of farmers that lost everything. All the plants. They’re waiting now to see if some of them can recover. They’ve lost their whole livelihood.”

The price of the beans Selga imports has risen 60%. But he’s more worried about climate change than about the price tag.

“It’s bigger than the cost of freight, it’s structural,” Selga said. “Climate change, a few years back, was something to be discussed by higher management and politics. But it seems now it’s come down to our level and ordinary people are having to deal with those things.”

Via The Guardian

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