Category: Climate Change

Scientists Rediscover A Rare, Wild Species That Could Save Coffee From Climate Change

Our planet already has its long period of existence and has already gone through several changes. One of them, which researchers consider one of the most drastic, is climate change. This has been affecting the world in many different ways and perhaps it is heading towards a point where our existence becomes more and more difficult.

Logically, it has numerous consequences for our existence. We always think of animals, seas, or forests when we talk about climate change. But climate change is a reality facing farmers. And, according to research, the future of some foods is worrying. Some products that are very popular today will become increasingly rare and expensive.

Climate Changes

One such product is the beloved coffee. Fortunately, scientists have identified a coffee plant that could be more resistant to the nuances of climate change.

This plant is called coffee stenophylla or Coffea stenophylla. It is a wild and relatively rare species found in Upper West Africa. When compared to the most commonly used coffee plants, this one is much better equipped to deal with climate change.

In addition, this plant has a taste similar to the high quality Arabica coffee made with the Arabica plant,  C. arabica. Because of this, the plant must make coffee connoisseurs satisfied. Arabica currently dominates 75% of the market and is one of the variants particularly threatened by climate change. This is because the plant needs very specific conditions to grow.

“This species substantially broadens the climate envelope for high-quality coffee and can provide an important resource for the development of climate-resistant coffee growing plants,” the researchers wrote.

New Species

In fact, the stenophylla plant is in a comeback process. Not least because it was thought that she had died everywhere, except in Côte d’Ivoire. And they had very little published information about her in several decades. However, it was rediscovered in Sierra Leone.

Scientists tested samples of C. stenophylla  to see what it tasted like, and made models to assess what kind of conditions it could grow under. With this they discovered that this plant can grow in temperatures of up to 24.9° Celsius.

According to previous research, this plant variety can survive periods of drought and is also resistant to coffee rust. All of this means that it has several attractions to be a possible option for coffee production in more challenging weather conditions.

“Low productivity was singled out as the main reason why stenophylla failed to establish itself as one of the main coffee species in the world, although competition from robusta coffee, whose initial progress to become a global commodity coincides with the decline in cultivation of stenophylla, probably the main contributing factor,” the researchers wrote.

Future Use

Stenophylla coffee was also very popular, in blind trials, among coffee tasting experts. And as time goes on, this plant can be crossed with others so that more climate resilience is possible.

This change in the coffee species is one of the options the industry is looking for. Other ideas such as relocating coffee bean cultivation and adapting different aspects of bean production are also being considered.

“It won’t be in coffee shops for the next two years, but I think within five to seven years we’ll see it coming into the market as a niche coffee, as a high value coffee, and after that, I think it will be more common,” he concluded. Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the UK.