Arabica Coffee May Be Extinct in the Wild by 2100

coffee photo
CC BY-ND 2.0. Chris

Climate change may do in coffee by 2100. That's the word from scientists from Kew Gardens in the UK, working with colleagues in Ethiopia, who report that wild Arabic coffee may become extinct "well before the end of this century."

If you're wondering why the extinction of wild varieties of Coffea arabica matters when there are cultivated varieties, it's this: Cultivated coffee has very little genetic diversity, and if we're to continue growing, drinking, and exporting coffee—which is the second most-traded commodity in the world—then being able to exploit the genetic diversity of the wild stock, tapping into those varieties that are climate change hardy, is crucial.

Science Daily sums up the effect of climate change on Ethiopian coffee:

The outcome of climate change in Ethiopia for cultivated Arabica, the only coffee grown in the country, is also assumed to be profoundly negative, as natural populations, forest coffee (semi-domesticated) and some plantations occur in the same general bioclimatic area as indigenous Arabica. Generally the results of the study indicate that Arabica is a climate sensitive species, which supports previously recorded data, various reports, and anecdotal information from coffee farmers. The logical conclusion is that Arabica coffee production is, and will continue to be, strongly influenced by accelerated climate change, and that in most cases the outcome will be negative for the coffee industry.

Read the original research, in PLoS ONE