Other

Could Arabica Coffee Beans Become Extinct?


Climate change has become a serious threat to the coffee bean; it could be gone in 70 years

A few months ago, we alerted you to the possibility that climate change could very well wipe out the Arabica coffee bean. Well folks, this is not a drill: now, reports say that climate change could make the sought-after coffee bean extinct in a mere 70 years. Better hold onto that cup of coffee.

Reuters reports on a new study from Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens, in collaboration with Ethiopian scientists. Based on a computer model of the bean production in Ethiopia, the scientists predict that 99 percent of areas best suited to grow Arabica coffee beans will be wiped out by 2080 — which leaves the future of the bean in jeopardy.

Coffee is a crop that's vulnerable to climate and temperature changes; as the temperatures go up, the wild Arabica plants can't adjust to the changes. And that's especially alarming for farmers and producers in Ethiopia who rely on the Arabica coffee bean for jobs and livelihoods. "The extinction of Arabica coffee is a startling and worrying prospect," said Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens and the leader of the study, to Reuters.


Arabica coffee could be extinct in the wild within 70 years

A study conducted by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK), in collaboration with scientists in Ethiopia, reports that climate change alone could lead to the extinction of wild Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) well before the end of this century. Wild Arabica is considered important for the sustainability of the coffee industry due to its considerable genetic diversity. The Arabicas grown in the world's coffee plantations are from very limited genetic stock and are unlikely to have the flexibility required to cope with climate change and other threats, such as pests and diseases. In Ethiopia, the largest producer of coffee in Africa, climate change will also have a negative influence on coffee production. The climate sensitivity of Arabica is confirmed, supporting the widely reported assumption that climate change will have a damaging impact on commercial coffee production worldwide. These are worrying prospects for the world's favourite beverage &ndash the second most traded commodity after oil, and one crucial to the economies of several countries. The research is published in PLOS ONE on 7 November 2012.

The study, which uses computer modelling, represents the first of its kind for wild Arabica coffee. In fact, modelling the influence of climate change on naturally occuring populations of any coffee species has never been undertaken. Surprisingly, even studies on plantation coffee have been limited, despite the concerns of farmers and other industry stakeholders.

The researchers used field study and 'museum' data (including herbarium specimens) to run bioclimatic models for wild Arabica coffee, in order to deduce the actual (recorded) and predicted geographical distribution for the species. The distribution was then modelled through time until 2080, based on the Hadley Centre Coupled Model, version 3 (HadCM3), a leading model used in climate change research, and the only one available that covered the desired time intervals, for several emission scenarios, at the resolution required (1 km). Three different emission scenarios over three time intervals (2020, 2050, 2080) were used. The models showed a profoundly negative influence on the number and extent of wild Arabica populations.

Two main types of analysis were performed: a locality analysis and an area analysis. In the locality analysis the most favourable outcome is a c. 65% reduction in the number of pre-existing bioclimatically suitable localities, and at the worst, an almost 100% (99.7%) reduction, by 2080. In the area analysis the most favourable outcome is a 38% reduction, and the least favourable a c. 90% reduction, by 2080. Bioclimatic suitability refers to the combination of climatic variables that are necessary for the health and survival of a species: loss of optimum bioclimatic suitability places natural populations under severe environmental stress, leading to a high risk of extinction. This study assesses the survival of Arabica, rather than productivity or beverage quality, under the influence of accelerated climate change. There are other studies showing that the productivity (yield of coffee beans) and beverage quality (e.g. taste) of Arabica are tightly linked to climatic variability, and are strongly influenced by natural climatic fluctuations.

Of the two analyses undertaken, the locality analysis is regarded by the authors as the most pragmatic and informative. The predicted reduction in the number of Arabica localities, between 65% and 99.7%, can be taken as a general assessment of the species' survival as a whole, given the scope and coverage of the data and analyses used in the study. However, the predictions are regarded as 'conservative', as the modelling does not factor in the large-scale deforestation that has occurred in the highland forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan (the natural home of Arabica coffee). Moreover, because of the lack of suitable data, the models assume intact natural vegetation, whereas the highland forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan are highly fragmented due to deforestation. Other factors, such as pests and diseases, changes in flowering times, and perhaps a reduction in the number of birds (which disperse the coffee seeds), are not included in the modelling, and these are likely to have a compounding negative influence.

A visit to South Sudan (Boma Plateau) in April 2012 provided an opportunity to test the modelling predictions via on-the-ground observation. On comparing these observations with a study on Arabica made on the Boma Plateau in 1941, it was clear that not all of the environmental stress evident could be attributed to deforestation or agriculture over the 70 year period. The modelling predicted that Arabica could be extinct in these forests by the year 2020, due to climate change, and this appears to be realistic given the poor health (lack of seedlings, loss of mature Arabica specimens, low frequency of flowering and fruiting) of the remaining populations observed in 2012.

The outcome of climate change in Ethiopia for cultivated Arabica, the only coffee grown in the country, is also assumed to be profoundly negative, as natural populations, forest coffee (semi-domesticated) and some plantations occur in the same general bioclimatic area as indigenous Arabica. Generally the results of the study indicate that Arabica is a climate sensitive species, which supports previously recorded data, various reports, and anecdotal information from coffee farmers. The logical conclusion is that Arabica coffee production is, and will continue to be, strongly influenced by accelerated climate change, and that in most cases the outcome will be negative for the coffee industry. Optimum cultivation conditions are likely to become increasingly difficult to achieve in many pre-existing coffee growing areas, leading to a reduction in productivity, increased and intensified management (such as the use of irrigation), and crop failure (some areas becoming unsuitable for Arabica cultivation). Despite a recent dip, coffee prices are still the highest they have been for some 30 years, due to a combination of high demand and poor harvests. It is perceived by various stakeholders that some of the poor harvests are due to changed climate conditions, thus linking price increases to climate change.

It is hoped that the study will form the basis for developing strategies for the survival of Arabica in the wild. The study identifies a number of core sites, which might be able to sustain wild populations of Arabica throughout this century, serving as long-term in situ storehouses for coffee genetic resources. In many areas of Ethiopia loss of habitat due to deforestation might pose a more serious threat to the survival of Arabica, although it is now clear that even if a forest area is well protected, climate change alone could lead to extinction in certain locations. The study also identifies populations that require immediate conservation action, including collection and storage at more favourable sites (for example in seed banks and living collections).

Aaron Davis, Head of Coffee Research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says, "Coffee plays an important role in supporting livelihoods and generating income, and has become part of our modern society and culture. The extinction of Arabica coffee is a startling and worrying prospect. However, the objective of the study was not to provide scaremonger predictions for the demise of Arabica in the wild. The scale of the predictions is certainly cause for concern, but should be seen more as a baseline, from which we can more fully assess what actions are required."

Tadesse Woldemariam Gole, from the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum in Ethiopia, says, "As part of a future-proofing exercise for the long-term sustainability of Arabica production it is essential that the reserves established in Ethiopia to conserve Arabica genetic resources are appropriately funded and carefully managed."

Justin Moat, Head of Spatial Information Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says, "The worst case scenario, as drawn from our analyses, is that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080. This should alert decision makers to the fragility of the species.

"Our aim is to develop and apply these analyses to other important and threatened plants, on a routine basis. There is an immense amount of information held in museum collections around the world, such as Kew, and we have only just started to unlock their potential for assessing some of society's most pressing issues."


Six in 10 wild coffee species endangered by habitat loss

Wild coffee species are under threat, with 60% of them facing possible extinction, including Arabica, the original of the world’s most popular form of coffee, researchers say.

Most coffee species are found in the forests of Africa and Madagascar. They are threatened by climate change and the loss of natural habitat, as well as by the spread of diseases and pests.

While cultivated coffee is thriving, making up a hugely profitable business globally, the health of those species will also be affected by climate change.

In Ethiopia the number of locations where Arabica grows could be reduced by as much as 85% by 2080, and up to 60% of the land used for Ethiopia’s coffee production could become unsuitable by the end of the century, say scientists.

Ethiopia is Africa’s biggest coffee exporter, exporting $1bn worth of the crop annually. About 15 million people in the country work in coffee production. Wild Arabica coffee, which is native to the region, is an important seed stock for coffee farming and is also harvested for commercial coffee production, so threats to it could have a damaging economic impact on the country.

Commercial coffee on a global scale will also be affected if wild species die out, as those plants could hold the key to cross-breeding coffee varieties more resilient to the effects of climate change and possibly resistant to certain pests and diseases.

The scientists, from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, published their research on Wednesday in the journals Science Advances and Global Change Biology. The analysis was based on their examination of the 124 known coffee species, and an assessment was produced for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which publishes the global Red List of threatened species. Due to this discovery, the wild relative of Coffea arabica is now classed as endangered.

Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at Kew and lead author of the Science Advances paper, said: “Among the coffee species threatened with extinction are those that have potential to be used to breed and develop the coffees of the future, including those resistant to disease and capable of withstanding worsening climatic conditions.

“The use and development of wild coffee resources could be key to the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector. Targeted action is urgently required in specific tropical countries, particularly in Africa, to protect the future of coffee.”

There are ways to try to improve the prospects for wild coffee and commercial coffee production, including preventing deforestation and encouraging reforestation, and research into coffee varieties and the diseases and pests afflicting them.

Davis said it was vital better effort was made to conserve coffee species in the wild, such as through improved management and designation of protected areas, such as nature reserves, as well as new protected areas for wild coffee species.

He said that in Ethiopia there was already a scheme for protected areas for the conservation of wild Arabica coffee.

Davis also called for renewed focus on germplasm collections, such as living collections and seed banks so that these could be made effective and sustainable for the long-term. He called too for better labelling of coffee products so consumers could become aware of the impact of their purchasing choices. “At the moment there are lots of different types of certification but very few cover forest preservation and none detail their negative environmental impact,” he said.


Forgotten species could future-proof coffee in a warming world

Almost all the world's coffee is from just two species—Arabica and Robusta

A once-prized coffee species, rediscovered in West Africa decades after it was thought to have disappeared, is just as tasty as high-end Arabica and more resilient to climate change, scientists said Monday, adding that the forgotten bean could help future-proof quality coffee.

While there are more than a hundred known coffee species, the world gets its caffeine hit mostly from the beans of just two—Arabica, considered to be the superior brew, and the less refined Robusta, mostly used for instant mixes.

But climate change presents a serious challenge for the multi-billion dollar coffee industry and the roughly 100 million farmers worldwide who earn a living from cultivating the crop.

Arabica, which originates in the highlands of Ethiopia and South Sudan, is a cool tropical plant, preferring average annual temperatures of around 19 degrees Celsius. It is thought to be more vulnerable to global warming than Robusta, which can endure up to around 23C.

The newly rediscovered Coffea stenophylla, however, can tolerate conditions similar to Robusta, but with a higher average temperature of 24.9C—more than 6C higher than Arabica, according to a study in Nature Plants.

Aaron Davis, Head of Coffee Research at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, who led the research said that to find a coffee species with both resilience and taste is "a once in a lifetime scientific discovery".

"This species could be essential for the future of high-quality coffee," he said.

Researchers found Coffea stenophylla is endemic to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast

Endemic to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, stenophylla was considered to be superior even to Arabica according to reports from the 1800s and early 1900s, its popularity spreading to the cafes of France.

It fell out of use in the 20th century, vanishing completely from the record in 1954, until scientists finally found it growing in the wild in Sierra Leone in 2018 and set about studying its temperature tolerance—and its flavour.

Last year they carried out a blind taste test with a jury of industry professionals from coffee brands Nespresso and Jacobs Douwe Egberts.

"The judges all found it different from what they know, with vegetal notes," said Delphine Mieulet, scientist at the French agricultural research centre CIRAD, who led the tasting.

The new coffee had notes of "rose, elderflower, lychee, like the best Arabica", she told AFP, adding that the sample provided was so rare that not everyone was able to taste it.

Mieulet said she was confident that the coffee would become commercially available, but said that it might take several years.

In a taste test a panel of professionals judged the stenophylla to be of the same quality as Arabica

Having searched for stenophylla for years, Davis was aware that historical reports suggested it could be as good as Arabica.

In his book A Monograph of the Economic Species of the Genus Coffea L, published in 1925, Ralph Holt Cheney said both local people and French merchants in Sierra Leone thought the stenophylla beans were "superior to those of all other species".

"It has been shipped to France and sold as best Mocha," he wrote.

But Davis said when he was first able to taste stenophylla in August 2020, his expectations were low.

"All that changed once we'd sampled the first cup," he told AFP.

"It was like expecting vinegar but then tasting fine wine. We simply did not expect it to taste that good, and were even more surprised that it tasted like Arabica."

Stenophylla is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Davis said that showed the importance of conserving the world's wild plants and biodiversity.

Researchers say more work needs to be done to work out exactly where it could adapt to be grown, but it could be in tropical areas where Arabica is already under pressure from warming.


Coffee Extinction In The Wild, Spurred By Climate Change, Could Occur By 2080, Study Says

The wild Arabica coffee plant, the parent of the bushes on coffee farms, could go extinct as soon as 2080, according to a study by researchers from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens published in PLoS One on Wednesday.

To generate their predictions, the researchers used a computer to simulate the potential impact of climate change on the regions that are home to the wild coffee plant, in the mountains of East Africa. They found that by 2080, global warming was likely to reduce the number of "bioclimatically suitable localities" for wild coffee growth by between 65 and 100 percent. In other words, if their worst-case scenario comes true, there will be nowhere on earth for wild coffee to grow. In the long term, that spells almost certain extinction.

The researchers also identified a few spots that were the most likely to resist the deleterious effects of climate change, and so provide a possible home for Arabica coffee beyond 2080. They suggest that these "core localities," which include the Yayu Coffee Forest in Ethiopia, could "serve as long-term in situ storehouses for coffee genetic resources."

The researchers did not specifically model how climate change would affect cultivated coffee, which is what most of us actually drink, though they note that the outlook is "assumed to be profoundly negative." Quality and yield are both likely to decrease as the climate heats up. A study on the issue back in 2010 predicted that coffee farmers in Mexico and Central America would lose about a third of their current growing area to climate change by 2050.

Moreover, the extinction of the wild coffee plant could eventually spell serious trouble for domesticated coffee. The wild versions of the plant have far more genetic diversity than the domesticated ones, making the wild population much more resistent overall to the effects of pests and diseases. The dangers of agricultural commodities with too little genetic diversity have already been amply demonstrated by banana trees, which may be completely wiped out by a devastating blight within the next 20 years.


Most Coffee Species At Risk Of Extinction Due To Climate Change

As many of us wake to our much needed morning coffee, a recent study finds that over half of all wild coffee species worldwide are in danger of going extinct.

The study, published in Science Advances, found that 60% of wild coffee species are under threat of extinction. This includes the wild species of Arabica, the most popular cultivated coffee species accounting for 60% of global production.

The majority of the wild coffee species globally are found in Africa and Madagascar, where deforestation, human encroachment and disease is increasingly killing wild coffee plants. While the wildly popular coffee species are mass cultivated around the world, the potential extinction for coffee species leads to real problems on the future of the coffee business.

The two primary coffee species we drink around the world are Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora. However, Arabica coffee is difficult to cultivate and requires specific conditions to thrive. The need for shade and a certain cooler temperature range means the "mountain coffee" is susceptible to slight changes in the local climate.

Closeup shot of coffee beans being roasted Credit: Getty

Extinction of the wild species of Arabica could lead to numerous issues in the decades to come. Namely, the species would be needed to help breed new disease and climate resistant strains. This could cause crop yields to go down in the long term and could hamper the coffee industry's ability to provide new and better-tasting coffee.

Ethiopia could be especially hit by the extinction of coffee species. While Ethiopia accounts for only 3% of the global coffee production, the country relies on coffee for 60% of its export income. In addition, the coffee industry in Ethiopia supports 15 million people.

Most experts agree that the future of coffee is significantly at risk due to climate change. It is estimated that 50% of the land used to grow coffee will not be farmable by the year 2100.

The total number of coffee species threatened with extinction by area.

What does this mean for the coffee you drink daily? As temperatures warm, pests and disease will invade coffee farms. As over 80% of coffee growers are poor farmers in less developed countries, they will be faced with decreasing crop yield or increased pesticides. Ultimately, the quality and production of coffee will suffer.

While plant species around the world will have to cope with warming temperatures and a changing climate, coffee is especially vulnerable to these changes. A change in just a couple of degrees on average reduces the quality of Arabica coffee and may require either growing in different locations or a transition to another type of coffee species.

What's clear is that the coffee industry, with an economic impact of over $200 billion in the United States alone, will face significant challenges in the future. Coffee drinkers may be faced with higher coffee prices and poorer tasting coffee as climate change continues to strain this vulnerable crop.


Coffee Beans Could Be Extinct In 60 Years Then What?

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

If you believe the news from over the weekend that coffee beans are in danger of extinction, you're probably hoarding all the Arabica you can find today and envisioning a future in which coffee -- already liquid gold for many of us caffeine addicts -- can be used as delicious, fragrant currency.

Not so fast, though: First of all, it's not all coffee that's in danger of a die-out. It's the wild Arabica beans that grow in places like Ethiopia, Brazil and Colombia, according to a recent study between British and Ethiopian researchers published in PLoS One. Granted, this type of bean is used to make 70 percent of the world's coffee -- but that's not a full-scale extinction event.

The study itself even admits that full-on extinction is at the red alert end of the scale. "[T]he most favourable outcome is a. 65 percent reduction in the number of pre-existing bioclimatically suitable localities," the study reads, "and at worst an almost 100 percent reduction, by 2080."

What is scary is that the decline of Arabica beans is being linked to man-made occurrences: climate change and the deforestation of coffee-growing regions. Global warming, the study said, will reduce the amount of "bioclimatically suitable localities" while aggressive deforestation in places like Ethiopia and Brazil only serves to reduce those locations even further.

The Huffington Post is quick to point out that wild coffee beans aren't typically used in commercially processed coffee -- so what's the big deal? The big deal, of course, is genetic diversity. Most strains of domesticated coffee beans are -- as with every other domestically grown crop -- not as genetically diverse as plants found in the wild. Domestic crops have been engineered over time to be adaptable to a range of climates and produce high yields, but this has led crops to be incredibly weak and fragile in other areas. They are especially susceptible to disease, as anyone who loves bananas knows.

The banana that most people purchase at American grocery stores is the Cavendish banana, and it's not the banana that our grandparents grew up eating. It replaced the Gros Michel banana that was nearly wiped out in the 1950s by Panama Disease.

Now, that same disease threatens the Cavendish, because -- like the Gros Michel -- each banana is genetically identical to every other Cavendish banana, and has been for decades. The bananas reproduce asexually, through a method called "vegetative propagation" that ensures specific varieties of fruits and vegetables will all look and taste the same -- homogeneity is key in stocking grocery store shelves, after all. But this also means that the plants have no opportunity to evolve any sort of disease or pest resistance over time, thus remaining in a fragile balance that is wholly dependent on pesticides and other forms of human intervention. But even that is often not enough to save crops from failing wholesale.

This is the reason that seed banks store precious bits of life (when and where they're allowed to do so) meant to replace or re-engineer plants that have died out in this way. It's the same reason that heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables are more than just hipster foodie buzzwords. Heirloom crops contain the sort of genetic diversity vital to helping scientists "protect the world's future food supply," as National Geographic put it in an impactful cover story last year. Wrote Charles Siebert for the magazine:

A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we'll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren't increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we've come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply -- but we must take steps to save them.

Although coffee wasn't mentioned at the time in Siebert's article, it's yet another crop to add to the growing list of plants that need our protection. Will we step up in time? Or will our grandchildren be drinking acorn coffee while talking about the good old days of Arabica beans and Cavendish bananas?

Keep the Houston Press Free. Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.


Academic English (EAP) at AUA

Coffee is the best friend for almost every one in different areas. Beginning the day with hot coffee and cream is the best breakfast ever. To suppose that one day coffees are extinction. Will we missing the smell and tasting of it?

According to “Climate change threat to Arabica coffee crops”, the conclusion of work by a UK-Ethiopian team is before the end of 20s wild Arabica coffee will demise, and the researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, UK, and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum was did the examines in three difference location with carbon emission scenarios and the result came out with reduction as the least favourable by 2080. In contrast, “the extinction of Arabica coffee is a startling and worrying prospect, however, the objective of the study was not to provide scaremonger predictions for the demise of Arabica in the wild. (ܟ)

I’m a coffee fan, but I don’t know coffee that I like is Arabica or something else. I want to try the most expensive coffee in the world once in my life, but I know where this coffee comes from. So, it’s hard to try it. Have you ever heard Kopi luwak or civet coffee? It isn’t new thing, I knew it for a long time. Many people said that the taste of civet coffee is the same as normal. The reason why this coffee is expensive, because “in the digestive tract, the civet's proteolytic enzymeseep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids .” (Wikipedia) This process makes the price of this coffee get higher.


Coffee crisis? 60% of wild species could go extinct, some within decades

Hairy berries. Supersize seeds. No caffeine. Compared with the beans that supply our daily brew, the wild relatives of coffee plants can seem downright bizarre. But they also harbor genetic traits that could help farmed coffee plants survive threats such as drought and disease—and maybe create pleasing new cups in the process. Now, a new pair of studies says up to 60% of these wild coffee species could go extinct, some in the next 10 to 20 years, thanks to deforestation, human settlement, and climate change.

There are 124 known species in the genus Coffea, but most of us drink domesticated versions of only two: tasty C. arabica, which accounts for two-thirds of the global market, and hardy C. canephora, better known as robusta, which comprises the rest. But arabica is especially susceptible to diseases, such as the devastating coffee leaf rust fungus, and arabica-robusta hybrids that were once resistant are beginning to succumb as well.

To map the locations and health of wild coffee species, Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted the most comprehensive global assessment to date. They started with more than 5000 records of wild species compiled by other researchers and explorers, and they collected further data during dozens of expeditions to key areas in Africa, Madagascar, and Indian Ocean islands.

After mapping the location of each species, they determined—based on plant population and habitat—which were at risk. Sixty percent were threatened with extinction, and some might already be extinct, they report this week in Science Advances . “We knew it would be high, but we didn’t actually think it would be that high,” Davis says. For comparison, 22% of all plant species worldwide are threatened.

In a separate study, Davis teamed up with other researchers from Kew and the Environment, Climate Change, and Coffee Forest forum in Addis Ababa for an in-depth look at wild arabica, which was at low risk in the global analysis. Their new study, unlike the old, factored in climate change, using remote sensing data and computer modeling. It proved to be crucial: They found that climate change could cut the population of wild arabica in half by 2080, the researchers report this month in Global Change Biology . The finding suggests that other seemingly low-risk wild coffee species could in fact be at even higher risk, Davis says.

The new papers “strengthen what we know” about the vulnerability of wild coffee species, says Sarada Krishnan, director of global initiatives at the Denver Botanic Gardens and the owner of a coffee plantation in Jamaica. Two years ago, Krishnan and other scientists investigated one way of keeping wild coffee species alive: through gene banks. These repositories house genetic material that can be grown back into plants should their wild cousins be wiped from the face of the earth.

The most famous repository is the “doomsday” seed vault on Spitsbergen in Norway. But coffee seeds will not germinate after being frozen. Instead, plants have been haphazardly conserved in 52 field collections in coffee-growing countries. That’s an expensive, labor-intensive enterprise in areas with limited resources, making the beans’ continued existence precarious, Krishnan and others say.

Because they can’t save all the coffee, Krishnan and her international team of coffee scientists prioritized four gene banks (three in Africa and one in Costa Rica) in their quest to save wild coffee. Among the immediate needs: Upgrade conditions for existing plants, restock with missing wild species, and enable sharing of data and genetic material—and find an estimated $25 million from industry over the next 25 years to fund it all.

The wild species will be used to develop new, hardier varieties by coffee breeders like Simon Martin Mvuyekure, who is looking for disease- and drought-resistant crops to plant in East Africa. Another dream for some: to create a hybrid with a flavor as divine as the legendary bean that saved Panama’s coffee industry nearly 10 years ago.

Growers there were facing record low prices and selling unprofitable land to developers, when one farm experimented with a wild Ethiopian strain whose seeds had originated at the Costa Rica gene bank. Known as Geisha, its distinctive flowery aroma rated high among tasters and broke all records at auction. It is now the most expensive coffee on Earth.


Buy the best arabica coffee beans

For a better cup of coffee that has no bitterness, try coffee roasted by a specialty coffee roaster. If you live in a large town or city, chances are there’ll be a roastery or cafe serving these excellent arabica coffees.

Many roasters offer their coffees for sale online, which can be posted straight to your front door. Take a look at The Best UK Specialty Coffee Roasters in 2021 to see what’s on offer. All the roasters on the list ship internationally, too.

If you want to buy a better coffee maker, make sure to check our recommended coffee makers on Kit.co that start from just $8.

If you would like to try a cup of coffee before buying a bag, try googling specialty coffee near me, and visit one of the cafes on the list.