Covid-19 and low yields threaten to cause global coffee shortage.

Morning cups of luxurious coffee may turn into bitter, dwindling cups due to a global coffee shortage. Global coffee shortages are expected after lockdowns due to Covid-19 in Vietnam has resulted in supply chain disruptions.

The port that is used as a large exportation hub in Ho Chi Minh City has been forced into lockdown amid rising Covid-19 variants, specifically, the Delta variant. As a precaution, the port was placed under lockdown. Which resulted in exportation from Vietnam being halted. Coffee exporters have found it difficult to export their products and find alternative ports for exportation.

These challenges have had a knock-on effect in terms of increased expenses accrued. As a result, a rise in the price of coffee beans has escalated. Additionally, shipping delays are also prevalent.

Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee producer. They are also a major producer of a specific type of coffee bean, namely, Robusta. However, Robusta is a bitter-tasting bean used mainly in instant coffee and some espresso blends.

Adding to the global coffee shortage is Brazil, which is also a large coffee producer. Brazil has harvested 40% less Arabica coffee than in 2020. Marking this year’s harvest as the lowest crop yield since 2009. Arabica coffee beans are less bitter and create a smoother, fuller flavored coffee. Arabica coffee beans make up two-thirds of US coffee consumption. The US is also home to the largest volume of coffee consumers in the world.

Multiple reasons have affected the growth and crop yield of the Arabica coffee bean in Brazil. Brazil experienced droughts in various areas where coffee crops were prevalent. Additionally, Brazil’s produce patterns fluctuate yearly. This resulted in the yield for this year’s coffee beans falling into a low-yielding cycle. This year’s yield was 18.1 million bags lower than last year. Each bag holds 60kg of coffee beans. The future is pessimistic, with destructive frosts set to affect the next coffee cycle and crop yield.

The shortage of the gourmet coffee bean, Arabica, has resulted in Brazil turning to an alternative bean – The Robusta bean. The Robusta bean is cheaper to produce, however, more bitter tasting. Coffee blends which can be as high as 90% Robusta, will be seen this year.

Between Vietnam experiencing global supply chain disruptions, lockdowns, and exportation difficulties, and Brazil’s drought and low yield, coffee shortages are at an all-time high. With both Brazil and Vietnam being key exporters and suppliers for coffee beans, this proves to be an issue.

Consumers and buyers will be affected by the increase in prices and the cost of producing a cup of coffee. Not to mention the fact that consumers who would like gourmet beans (The Arabica beans), will be paying exorbitant prices due to the limitations of sourcing and producing the blend.

Jessica Bayley

Jessica Bayley is an international author and journalist based in South Africa and Belgium. She writes on international affairs and also an author of "The Ladies of Belgium"