Scientists Predict Climate Change Could Threaten Coffee Plants


Tuesday, April 20th 2021, 12:51 pm
By: CBS News


Scientists warn that your morning cup of joe could be in jeopardy as climate change threatens coffee plants around the globe, but British researchers think they may have found a solution.

Dr. Aaron Davis is a botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

"We're seeing, throughout the tropical coffee belt, increasing temperatures, but also more erratic rainfall and increased drought," he said.

Arabica beans make up more than half of the world's coffee, but scientists predict production could shrink by 50% in 30 years. So, the search is on for a future-proof plant.

Jeremy Torz is co-founder of Union Hand-Roasted Coffee.

“What we want is a tree that's relatively compact, that is drought resistant, that is climate tolerant and can give us a good yield with good flavor attributes," he said.

In the dense tropical rainforests of West Africa, the coffee crisis may have found its savior: Little black berries of the rare stenophylla plant.

"Importantly, stenophylla can grow and can crop under much higher temperatures than arabica coffee," Davis said.

The crucial coffee test is of course will it keep you going? But also, it's gotta taste good, and researchers say stenophylla delivered.

"It tasted fantastic," Davis said. "It had a good body, good aroma, it had sweetness, it had complexity."

Apart from robust flavors, it's crucially a robust plant.

"If we're interested in generating the coffees of the future, this is a really important little plant," Davis said.

According to the National Coffee Association, six out of 10 Americans drink coffee every day, with most enjoying more than three cups.