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Climate Change and Coffee

…coffee to make you smile

Climate change – could your morning coffee become a thing of the past?

Climate change scientists predict that there will be an overall decrease of 50% by 2050 in total land area that is suitable for growing coffee.

According to the National Geographic magazine, “Some countries, mainly outside the tropics, could see an increase in suitability and new opportunities to profit from the plant”.

It says that of the current top five producers four (Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia) are likely to see their best areas for growing coffee decrease in size and suitability. The fifth, Ethiopia, is the only one unlikely to suffer this change.

Arabica has limited resilience to climate change; farmers are already experiencing the impacts of elevated temperatures and low or erratic rainfall.

Among the many factors that will be likely to affect the ability to grow coffee, it says, are how the PH and texture of soil could change with more rainfall.

However, there is some hope!

An often-forgotten variety of coffee plant, a rare wild variety that grows in West Africa, may come to the rescue.

The variety, called Stenophylla, can tolerate warmer conditions and had been thought to be extinct outside of Ivory Coast, until it was recently re-discovered growing wild in Sierra Leone, where it was historically grown as a coffee crop about a century ago.

A panel of Coffee Commissioners who have tasted its roasted beans have reportedly been “pleasantly surprised”.

According to one report (in the journal Nature Plants) “Over 80% of judges could not tell the difference between Stenophylla and the world’s most popular coffee, Arabica, in blind tastings”.

Data suggests that it can tolerate temperatures at least 6C higher than Arabica and trials are expected to be carried out to assess its potential for safeguarding the future of high-quality coffee.

…coffee to make you smile
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