Coffee is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. The International Coffee Organization claims that 1.6 billion cups of coffee are drunk everyday across the world! But be aware, coffee is now being threatened due to climate change. A study done by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and scientists in Ethiopia report that the main plant used to produce coffee, Arabica, is a very climate sensitive plant. Since it is so sensitive, the study reported that this species could become extinct by 2080. Arabica accounts for 70% of global coffee production claims the National Geographic. The results from the study done was “profoundly negative” saying that even in the “best-case scenario two-thirds of the suitable growing locations would disappear by 2080,- and at worst, nearly 100 percent. And that’s factoring in only climate change, not deforestation” (National Geographic).
The reasoning for this plant being so susceptible to climate change is because Arabica already grows in the upper zones of vegetation on mountains. There is only so much space for the species to move up when the climate warms, therefore it’s at the last zone it can physically survive in. Even Arabica produced from cultivated seeds rather than wild seeds are threatened because the seed itself is what is so climate sensitive.
Thankfully, there are numerous species of coffee in the wild with more being found each year. Robusta, another popular species used for coffee production, is wildly cultivated currently so the world has alternatives. This species can grow at lower altitudes and isn’t as climate sensitive. The problem with this species is that the coffee it produces is much stronger, has a harsher taste, and has almost twice as much caffeine as Arabica.
Read more about the potentially coffee disaster in National Geographic’s article The Last Drop? Climate Change May Raise Coffee Prices, Lower Quality.