Arabica Coffee is the second-most-traded commodity after petroleum, and thus is an important crop in many parts of the world, but it only grows in very specific conditions. Growers and connoisseurs already know that variations in sun, rain, and temperature play a big role in how the final product tastes.
Scientists in Ethiopia, Africa’s largest Arabica coffee producer, and in the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens, recently completed a survey and study that suggests that climate change might kill off all the wild Arabica coffee plants within the next seventy years.
Wild Arabica coffee is important for the continuation of the species, as there is a great degree of genetic diversity, whereas on plantations, most of the coffee has been bred from a very select stock.
Even slight climate changes might be too much to bear for the genetically weak plants, leading to disaster in certain areas. Without the wild Arabica coffee, most likely more resilient, coffee cultivation might have a limited future.
According to the study, even the best case scenario left only 65% of the wild Arabica coffee thriving. The worst case scenario saw total disappearance of of the plant by 2080.
Justin Moat, Head of Spatial Information Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says, “The worst case scenario, as drawn from our analyses, is that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080. This should alert decision makers to the fragility of the species.