Where'd the coffee go?
I start each morning off with my cup of coffee.
While I'm getting ready for work, I place the tea/coffee kettle on the burner and let it almost whistle before tipping water into my pour-over dripper and filter.
I take my coffee with a bit of stevia and a lot of heavy cream, and I'm ready for the next few hours.
So, of course, it was with great panic that I started to see articles circling the live feed of social media that proclaimed: “Coffee is going extinct!”
Such a thing would be a travesty – can you imagine, a world without coffee?
After looking past the buzz words and snaggy titles, however, I noticed that the information for the topic came from researchers at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in the United Kingdom.
According to these researchers, the current fast-pace status of deforestation, changing climate (such as longer periods of drought) and the spread of fungal pathogens is leading to increased risks for coffee plants.
According to researchers, 75 varieties of coffee species are threatened with extinction, including 12 that will be critically endangered, 40 that are endangered and 22 vulnerable species.
Thirty-five species are considered not-threatened and researchers didn't have enough scientific data to determine that endangered status of 14 other coffee species.
Even one of the most well-known (and widely sold, judging by its prevalence on every grocery store shelf) varieties of coffee bean, Arabica could be facing extinction concerns within the next few decades.
Researchers say that in order for coffee plants to grow and produce, they need very specific habitats, so sometimes the slightest change in temperatures or rainfall can spell doom for coffee plants.
Add to it, that the deforestation of the coffee bean's native environment continues to be an issue – and that coffee requires a forest habitat in order to survive – and the outlook isn't incredibly cheery.
So, what will happen if our coffee beans supply starts drying up?
That daily cup of coffee that most Americans enjoy will start becoming pricer, for starters.
Already, a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop is no small penny...but your daily shot of caffeine may start increasing even more so, even if you are (like me) a home-brewer.
The researchers also say that coffee may start tasting a little less tasty.
World Coffee Research says that habitats with lower temperatures will usually produce higher quality coffee. In order to have that rich, robust flavor that we coffee-lovers adore, coffee needs to ripen slowly in order to develop it's more complex tastes, such as sweetness.
However, in warmer climates, the coffee bean ripens quicker and is less likely to taste as sweet and flavorable.
So as the temperatures in the coffee bean's native forests take an upward hike – the flavor quality of coffee takes a similar downward stroll.
World Coffee Research says that climate change alone may not boost coffee prices, but the fact that the demand for coffee is projected to have doubled by the year 2050 and that suitable land for growing coffee is steadily shrinking will likely cause price changes,
Ethiopia, one of the countries that is a primary coffee exporter, has already taken movements to help protect their crops by creating protected areas in order to save wild coffee beans, but the highest threat to coffee production, researchers say, is to the coffee plants in Madagascar and Tanzania.
So next time you settle in with your delicious, steaming cup of fresh coffee...maybe savor it a little longer, breathe in the aroma, enjoy the sweet and bitter taste – because who knows...we may someday be asking, “where did all the coffee go?”