Our supply of coffee is directly being threatened by climate change. The $70 billion coffee industry has identified it as a significant operational challenge. Students and faculty at the Nicholas School of the Environment have been working in conjunction with Counter Culture Coffee (CCC) to discover and implement novel solutions that can overcome this environmental threat.
Now, the Nicholas School and the Duke Alumni Association have teamed up with Counter Culture Coffee to offer a series of events, “Climate Change: A Coffee Crisis is Brewing,” to help alumni learn about how the problem is being handled from different angles (in the corporate sector, by research institutions, and so on), about the solutions being tried, and about ways that individuals can positively impact the coffee supply chain.
Recently, one of these sessions was held in Atlanta, where Counter Culture Coffee has one of its many training centers. Nick DiLuzio, the vice president of the Nicholas School Alumni Council, was fundamental in bringing the event to Atlanta.
“There are a number of reasons I wanted to bring the CCC event to Atlanta,” he said. “First, as a member of the Duke Atlanta Alumni Board, my goal is to increase the visibility of the Nicholas School in the Atlanta area. The school is doing some great things, and I want to make sure all Duke alums, not just Nicholas School alums, know about them…. Everyone loves coffee (except for me), so I thought the event would be of interest to all Duke alums in the Atlanta area. Second, the partnership between the Nicholas School and CCC has been going on for several years now and has been a huge success, so I really enjoyed being able to highlight that partnership to the broader Duke community. Lastly, while CCC has a huge presence in Durham, its presence is not as large in Atlanta, so I thought this would be a great way to introduce more people to the CCC brand and the great work they are doing in the world of coffee sustainability.”
Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, an associate professor of the practice of Environmental Policy and Management, has been working with CCC for many years. Shapiro-Garza and Meredith Taylor, the sustainability manager for CCC, have partnered to design a framework and toolkit to aid small-scale farmers in developing their own climate change adaptation solutions, which they discussed at the event.
“I think the most important piece of the program is the partnership,” DiLuzio said. “It shows that, with the right resources and connections, our students can pretty much solve any challenges they are faced with. As Meredith mentioned several times throughout the program, she could not have achieved this success without the Nicholas School, and vice versa. When Duke students are faced with a problem or a challenge, they pull together to find a solution, and this partnership is a prime example.”