Coffee And Water Resources At Origin

by | Aug 13, 2012

Key Insight

Many coffee mills use outdated technology that is water-intensive: they are using more water than they need to.

I am writing this month about a coffee-water paradox in the coffeelands that I think has at least three dimensions.  The first one is this: coffee farming may represent the leading (licit) livelihood option for farmers in the highlands, but it is a drain on scarce water resources and a leading source of water contamination for everyone living downstream from them.

What we think.

Coffee milling constitutes a threat to water security in Central America in two ways.  First, it can be a drain on “blue water” reserves in water-constrained communities. Second, the wastewater that is often released untreated into local waterways is a significant source of contamination of surface water on which millions of people in coffee-growing watersheds depend.