By Kyra Auffermann, National Coffee Association
James Grebey, Entertainment News Editor at Inverse, wrote:
“In an official new Star Wars book that just hit shelves yesterday, it’s revealed that Ewoks actually grow coffee on the forest moon of Endor, as seen in Return of the Jedi. This being Star Wars, it’s called “caf,” because of course it is.
This is a funny and weird detail, but based on my admittedly limited understanding of where coffee grows, the very Northern California-like climate of the Ewoks’ homeworld doesn’t seem especially hospitable to coffee plants. Based on your knowledge of coffee growing, and with the understanding that Star Wars is all made up anyway, does this seem possible?
… This is definitely not the strangest question we’ve received.
For the sake of scientific inquiry, I sent the question to my colleague Mark Corey, Ph.D., NCA Director of Scientific Affairs & Project Management, who was traveling across the country to the SCA Coffee Expo 2018. He immediately called me from the Seattle airport.
Based on what I learned from Dr. Corey (who probably never imagined entertaining a professional conversation about Ewoks), here’s my reply to James:
In summary – it seems possible, but unlikely. How cold does it get on Endor?
Coffee can’t grow below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or they’ll freeze. They require a constant year-round temperature, ideally with some variation between day and night to help the fruit mature. If there’s a frost, it will kill the leaves of the coffee plant. So, conditions similar to Northern California would likely be too cool to grow coffee successfully.
But, it looks like Endor has a range of climates – there may be a region towards the equator that is hospitable to real coffee plants (similar to Earth’s coffee belt, which spans between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn). I think the Ewoks would probably have better luck with Arabica plants, versus Robusta – they do well at higher elevations with more mild temperatures.
Scientists are currently researching how genetic variations of coffee can impact resiliency and withstand certain environmental threats (like coffee leaf rust). Given the advanced biotechnology in Star Wars, it seems feasible that scientists could genetically modify Earth coffee to grow on Endor. (…Except for the fact that it’s not real, that is.)
So there you go.