Podcast: How farmers grow the 2.7 billion pounds of coffee we drink every year

Pic by Neil Palmer CIAT A coffee farm worker in Cauca southwestern Colombia
A coffee farm worker in Cauca southwestern Colombia. Image: Neil Palmer CIAT

Whether you typically crave a drip coffee or something a bit more intricate, we can all agree that caffeine is necessary, right?

As Americans, we’re pretty big coffee drinkers. On average for the five years ending in 2016, the US annually imported 1.45 million metric tons of green coffee beans from countries around the world. That translates into 2.7 billion pounds of roasted beans per year. Each pound of roasted beans can be brewed into about 24 “tall” Starbucks coffees, making the 2.7 billion pounds we import enough to brew about 65 billion of those 12-oz cups of morning joe.

On this episode of Biotech Facts and Fallacies, plant pathologist Steve Savage discusses America’s collective love of coffee and explains how to calculate your coffee footprint: all the land, labor and pesticides necessary to fuel your daily coffee habit.

Related article:  GMO coffee is on the horizon—but will we drink it?
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Full show transcript available here.

Steve Savage is a plant pathologist and senior contributor to the GLP. Follow him on Twitter @grapedoc. The Pop Agriculture podcast is available for listening or subscription on iTunes and Google Podcasts.

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