Coffee is one of the world’s most widely enjoyed and consumed beverages. But recently, Scientists from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, have revealed that 60% of the world’s wild coffee species is under threat of extinction. This includes the most widely traded coffee bean globally, Arabica. That makes coffee one of the most vulnerable plants globally!
The multi-billion dollar coffee industry has been built on Arabica beans and relies upon these wild coffee species to continue supply caffeine drinkers globally. They are vital to the industry’s crop development and the sustainability of the coffee industry as a whole.
The main threat that faces coffee species is climate change, specifically increasing drought. Coffee crops don’t fare well against big changes to their environment and so climate change paired with habitat loss due to farming, settlements and development, is the main driver for the threat of extinction. Other issues that coffee species face are the spread and increasing severity of devastating fungal viruses and coffee wilt disease.
This should pose concern for everyone from coffee lovers to coffee farmers and it is vital that these findings are used to influence policy makers and coffee industry stakeholders to make necessary changes. Not only will extinction affect consumers but it will have a devastating effect on farmers who rely upon farming coffee beans as their only source of income.
Will reduced availability of coffee cherries mean that the price of coffee beans will increase so significantly that only certain people will be able to afford it? Or worse still, could it become extinct? Time to put some serious measures in place to ensure coffee can be enjoyed and consumed for generations to come.
Bean Scene Magazine, 2019, ‘Sixty per cent of coffee species in danger of extinction’, Coffee News, viewed 11/01/2019, <https://www.beanscenemag.com.au/sixty-per-cent-of-coffee-species-in-danger-of-extinction>
Daley, J 2019, ‘Bitter Reality: Most Wild Coffee Species Risk Extinction Worldwide’, Scientific American, viewed 11/01/2019, <https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bitter-reality-most-wild-coffee-species-risk-extinction-worldwide1/>
Davis, A, Chadburn, H, Moat, J, O’Sullivan, R, Hargreaves and Lughadha, EN 2019, ‘High extinction risk for wild coffee species and implications for coffee sector sustainability’, Science Advances, 5th edn, pp. 1 – 9