Center for Latin American Studies Hosts Talk on “Coffee in the Anthropocene”

A University of Michigan professor discussed the effects of biodiversity and climate change on coffee production.

By Emily Mao

UChicago’s Center for Latin American Studies invited ecologist Ivette Perfecto to campus to speak about the origins of shaded organic coffee on Monday.

Perfecto, the George W. Pack Professor of Ecology, Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, began a presentation of her research with insight regarding the effect of biodiversity on coffee production.

“Because growing coffee on farms depends heavily on biodiversity, independent producers and corporations focus on preserving biodiversity to prevent coffee price fluctuation,” Perfecto said.

Perfecto also noted the impact of climate change and environmental concerns on coffee farms. Landslides in Mexico pose a threat to farms as Hurricane Maria endangered coffee plants in Puerto Rico.

Perfecto showed how coffee production is constantly expanding, on a wide scale. “In Puerto Rico,” she said, “boutique family farms are creating new forms of e-commerce by selling their small-farm coffee beans on the internet.”

“Growing bigger and more popular than ever, coffee in rural farms throughout Latin America increases social capital and promotes sustainability among families,” Perfecto said.

Perfecto concluded her talk by saying that, given the beneficial impacts of coffee production towards small farmers and families, she hopes that the University of Chicago community can intellectually deepen their love for coffee.