Forgotten species could future-proof coffee in a warming world

forgotten species could future proof coffee in a warming world

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 say, 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…

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