Environmental impacts beyond land use and conservation risk hotspots: Coffee and tea

Kamaljit S. Bawa and Jianguo Liu

PNAS- Ecology | November 20, 2023

New paper compares the production and consumption of coffee and tea, the most common beverages after water. Both coffee and tea are grown in humid tropical and subtropical regions on lands that once supported the most diverse natural ecosystems in the world. Expanding consumption of both commodities and climate change will continue to exert pressure on land and the nature it supports.Previous comparisons of environmental effects lack comprehensive analysis of land, carbon, and water impacts on a per unit of production or consumption for coffee, tea, or other crops. Switching from coffee to tea can result not only in rewilding and restoration of millions of hectares of land but also in additional carbon sequestration. Interestingly, in many parts of the world, within the same cultures, the use of coffee and tea are almost interchangeable, which should help facilitate the shift to more tea and less coffee. Such analyses are also needed for the production and consumption of other comparable pairs of food crops, for example, wheat and rice.