Climate Change and Coffee Quality: Systematic Review on the Effects of Environmental and Management Variation on Secondary Metabolites and Sensory Attributes of Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora

Front Plant Sci. 2021 Oct 8:12:708013. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.708013. eCollection 2021.


Climate change is impacting crop performance and agricultural systems around the world with implications for farmers and consumers. We carried out a systematic review to synthesize evidence regarding the effects of environmental factors associated with climate change and management conditions associated with climate adaptation on the crop quality of a culturally-relevant perennial crop, coffee (Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora). Seventy-three articles were identified that addressed the study's research question including 42 articles on environmental factors, 20 articles on management conditions, and 11 articles on both. While variation was found between studies, findings highlight that coffee quality is vulnerable to changes in light exposure, altitude, water stress, temperature, carbon dioxide, and nutrient management. Both increases as well as decreases were found in secondary metabolites and sensory attributes that determine coffee quality in response to shifts in environmental and management conditions. The most consistent evidence identified through this systematic review includes the following two trends: (1) increased altitude is associated with improved sensory attributes of coffee and; (2) increased light exposure is associated with decreased sensory attributes of coffee. Research gaps were found regarding the effects of shifts in carbon dioxide, water stress, and temperature on the directionality (increase, decrease, or non-linear) of coffee quality and how this varies with location, elevation, and management conditions. This systematic review further identified the following research needs: (1) long-term studies that examine the interactive effects of multiple environmental factors and management conditions on coffee quality; (2) studies that examine the interaction between sensory attributes and secondary metabolites that determine coffee quality and; (3) studies on the feasibility of various climate-adaptation strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change on coffee quality. Evidence-based innovations are needed to mitigate climate impacts on coffee quality toward enhanced sustainability and resilience of the coffee sector from farm to cup.

Keywords: agricultural systems; altitude; climate change; coffee plants; crop quality; secondary metabolites; sensory attributes.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review