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Beans Endangered

The shutdown may be over but there is some bad news in the coffee world based on a new article recently released on Beverage Daily. News that you probably don’t want to hear this weekend. According to the article, 60% of all wild coffee species are under threat of extinction due to climate change, deforestation, and fungal pathogens and pests. But most importantly, wild Arabica coffee is endangered. Which, if you know your brew, is the origin of the world’s most popular coffee. Yes, you heard that right, one of the keystone (biology term!) coffee species is under threat due to… well… us, even though Trump may not think so. But you’re smart, you recycle, you already knew that we are totally fucking up the planet. Now, I know some of you are thinking, well who cares about wild coffee? And let me tell you, you people are assholes. You’re probably the kind of people who want to privatize all our national parks, where you have to pay to see a bird, pay to see a waterfall. Very Ron Swanson of you. We need to keep the wild natural gifts that this great mother earth has given us, well, wild.

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Here is a little back story. Arabica coffee is a special coffee home to the humid forests of Ethiopia and a small area of neighboring South Sudan. These wild beans are a staple in the commercial coffee operations today and provide a vital resource for Ethiopia. Not only that, these wild Arabica beans are actually good for the global coffee sector providing germplasm, (look it up), which is vital for all other beans around the world.

Scientists at the royal botanic gardens in Kew, England, have carried out an international union for conservation of nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species assessment for all 124 coffee species.

The results show a very grim future for the global coffee production world, buttttt the white coats do say that some interventions made today could actually make a big difference to the future of our beloved beans. Intervention such as forest preservation and reestablishment, humid forest cover and any sustainable practices can actually make a difference.

The report is a little too over our heads, we aren’t that smart you know, we just talk fast, but if you want to really dive deep, by all means go for it. But here is the general takeaway for those of us with less attention span ability.

So, 60% of all coffee species are endangered, meaning almost extinct, meaning no longer. Which is a huuuuge number since the average for plants is 22%.

Also, to make it even scarier, some of the coffee species assessed by researchers have not been seen in the wild for over a century, just in farms where they keep reproducing it- and so it may already be too late.

In Ethiopia- Africa’s largest coffee exporter (in case you didn’t know that)- Arabica coffees natural population is estimated to be cut in half in the next 60 years or so purely due to climate change. Meanwhile, 60% of the land used for Ethiopia’s coffee production could become unsuitable for use by the end of the century from deforestation and also land becoming unplantable from, you guessed it, climate change again.

And here is a fun little factoid to add- The world’s coffee trade relies on two species: Arabica 60% and Robusta 40%.