Climate Change and Coffee Communities in Latin America

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Fox, Claire
Furgiuele, Joanna
Haider, Saira
Ramirez, Martin
Younis, Mike


Shapiro, Elizabeth

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Coffee production is an essential component of the rural economy and smallholder livelihoods in countries throughout Latin America. Coffee producers and the global coffee supply have been threatened by the effects of climate change, such as increases in severe weather events that cause harvest failures and changes in growing conditions that decrease volume or quality. We researched climate change adaptation strategies for both livelihood stability and coffee production sustainability that are feasible for smallholder producers to implement. Our group conducted a research study for our client Counter Culture Coffee in partnership with three coffee cooperatives: La Orgánica in Colombia, Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Desarrollo de Concepción Huista (CODECH) in Guatemala, and Cenfrocafé in Peru. We used a mixed methods approach and triangulated our data by applying multiple sources to answer similar questions. We interviewed cooperative leaders, conducted surveys, held focus groups, and participated in transect walks. We also interviewed key actors from the government, nonprofit, and private sectors within each country that play a role in developing the resilience and/or adaptive capacity of smallholder coffee producers. Our results show how across all three countries, issues of the roya (coffee leaf rust) epidemic, price volatility, instability in weather and seasonality, lack of access to credit, and insufficient availability to technical assistance are challenges to adapting to the impacts of climate change for smallholder coffee growers. Some of the strategies that smallholder coffee producers can implement to adapt to climate change are: diversifying income, selecting rust resistant coffee varieties, converting to shade-grown agroforestry systems, implementing best management practices, capacity building through community organization and forming cooperatives, and securing certifications that offer more stable prices. Finally, we developed specific recommendations for our client and for our three partner cooperatives.





Fox, Claire, Joanna Furgiuele, Saira Haider, Martin Ramirez and Mike Younis (2015). Climate Change and Coffee Communities in Latin America. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.