PSL season is back! Here’s what climate type is best for producing your favorite ‘cup of joe’☕

Coffee is among the most valuable tropical export crops across the globe

It’s all the rage on social media this week: pumpkin spice lattes are returning to coffee shop menus across the country as the fall season approaches. 🎃

Seeing all of the excitement got me thinking -- what climate type is best for producing and harvesting coffee beans? Let’s chat about it below:

The history of coffee

Legend has it that the origins of coffee can be traced back to Ethiopia, and more specifically, the Ethiopian plateau.

According to the National Coffee Association, stories mention a goat herder noticed his goats were noticeably more energized after eating “berries” from a certain tree. This herder reported his findings to a local official, who then used these “berries” in a certain drink that would keep him alert through the long hours of evening prayer.

Word began to travel as the drink became increasingly more popular, and by the 16th century coffee production was occurring on the Arabian Peninsula, as well as in Egypt, Syria, and Turkey.

Fast forward to the 17th century, when coffee officially arrived in Europe. Coffee houses became the new social spots as the vitalizing drink started to replace beer and wine as the most popular breakfast beverage.

Coffee was then brought over to what would eventually become the United States of America in the mid-1600s, and has grown in popularity ever since.

The ideal coffee climate

In today’s time, coffee crops are among the most valuable tropical export crops on Earth with millions of acres dedicated to coffee production.

According to NOAA, ideal coffee-growing conditions include cool-to-mildly warm tropical climates where humidity and rich soils are present, as well as few pests and diseases. Most of those areas are along the equator, including Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The country that currently produces the most coffee is Brazil.

Ideal coffee growing countries across the globe. Credit: NOAA and (KSAT)

What to monitor as climates warm

It’s no secret that temperatures have been warming across the globe. If this trend continues, additional warming will present several challenges to coffee cultivation.

For example, increasing temperatures will accelerate fruit ripening and development. A faster ripening process has been known to decrease coffee bean quality.

When temperatures climb to and over approximately 86 degrees Fahrenheit, extensive damage to coffee plants often occur. As climates continue to warm in the future, the overall amount of land mass currently available for coffee production could noticeably decrease, affecting overall availability.

Whether you take your favorite ‘cup of joe’ with pumpkin spice and everything nice, just cream and sugar, or without anything at all, I hope this gives you a little insight into how weather plays a role in creating this popular morning beverage!

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About the Authors:

Meteorologist Mia Montgomery joined the KSAT Weather Authority Team in September 2022. As a Floresville native, Mia grew up in the San Antonio area and always knew that she wanted to return home. She previously worked as a meteorologist at KBTX in Bryan-College Station and is a fourth-generation Aggie.

Andrew Wilson is a digital journalist and social media producer at KSAT.