Bean and gone? Coffee is under threat across the world
by Abi Aldridge
What's Going On Here?
A new study has found that 60% of wild coffee species are at risk of extinction due to climate change.
What Does This Mean?
Scientists used climate change projections to model how changing conditions, such as temperature and precipitation, would affect the regions that coffee beans grow in. They found that by 2050, the amount of suitable coffee farmland could drop by 50%.
Deforestation, urbanisation and disease is already killing wild coffee plants. Of the 124 species that grow in the wild, 75 are now considered threatened, including wild Arabica coffee which is used to supply seeds for coffee farming. The majority of these wild coffee species are found in Africa and Madagascar - regions which are particularly at risk.
Whilst humans typically only drink 2 types of coffee bean - Arabica and Robusta - the other 122 types (which don’t taste as good!) could be crucial in guaranteeing the survival of coffee in the future, with scientists already exploring how to genetically modify coffee plants to cope with disease or less rainfall.
Why Should We Care?
There’s been talk of climate change taking away our beloved coffee for a while now, but this study is the first full assessment of the risks to the world’s coffee plants. It confirms what has been feared for a while - coffee could be a goner! If coffee supplies are diminished we could see a huge price hike in our morning coffees, if we’re lucky enough to get them at all!
The non-profit organisation World Coffee Research are already looking for solutions to the possible coffee crisis. They’re undertaking an ‘international multi-location variety trial’ to see if they can successfully grow coffee beans in regions not typically associated with coffee production, such as Australia.
Where do you get your coffee fix? Consider switching to a coffee supplier that is working to make a difference, such as Cafe Direct. They re-invest up to 50% of their profits into the grower communities that they buy from. They work to improve livelihoods and diversify crops in response to climate change - helping farmers to become more sustainable and prepared for the future.
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