Say It Isn't So for Joe
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coffee

Dave, we don’t actually wake up in the mornings until the coffee’s brewing, right? Of course! I think for a lot of people, morning coffee has become an experience. I know some people who’ve turned it into a meal, by adding protein powders and coconut oil, special creamers and antioxidants. Not me, but the point is, a lot of us love it.

That’s why a new study may just threaten your morning cup of joy. Estimates are that twenty to sixty percent of over one hundred coffee plant species are facing extinction. Our conservation efforts aren’t enough to save wild coffee species. That’s concerning because we need genetic diversity in our coffee especially if future climate events threaten current commercial species.

Most of the world’s commercial coffee is either Arabica or Robusta. To keep these crops viable as well as preserve wild coffee strains, scientists have bred wild strains with commercial ones to resist disease. Wild coffee species are found in the forests of Africa and Madagascar as well as tropical regions of Australia, India and Sri Lanka.

But thirty percent of wild coffee don’t grow in areas protected by conservation and only half have been archived and preserved in seed banks. Losing them means we don’t have a storehouse of new genes to breed current crops with. Diversity is important for crops to resist insects, disease, and climate change. In fact, climate change is already a major threat to the Arabica plant. Estimates are that naturally occurring Arabica coffees will be cut in half because of the planet’s warming.

I say, coffee drinkers unite! I can see us wearing T-shirts emblazoned with SAVE the BEAN!

For more information…

World's coffee under threat, say experts
The first full assessment of risks to the world's coffee plants shows that 60% of 124 known species are on the edge of extinction...

High extinction risk for wild coffee species and implications for coffee sector sustainability
Wild coffee species are critical for coffee crop development and, thus, for sustainability of global coffee production. Despite this fact, the extinction risk and conservation priority status of the world’s coffee species are poorly known. Applying IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria to all (124) wild coffee species, we undertook a gap analysis for germplasm collections and protected areas and devised a crop wild relative (CWR) priority system. We found that at least 60% of all coffee species are threatened with extinction, 45% are not held in any germplasm collection, and 28% are not known to occur in any protected area. Existing conservation measures, including those for key coffee CWRs, are inadequate. We propose that wild coffee species are extinction sensitive, especially in an era of accelerated climatic change...