Coffee’s Robust Back-Up Bean Isn’t As Resistant To Climate Change As Once Thought


The headline “Coffee could suffer under climate change!” is nothing new. Farmers and scientists have known for decades that Coffea arabica, the plant that supplies about 60 percent of the world’s coffee, is sensitive to temperatures higher than those found in their native range in the East African highlands. Studies on arabica plants’ response to climate stresses, such as extreme cold, heat, and drought, have shown that coffee yield and quality decrease in less-than-optimal growing conditions. Outside of their ideal temperature — too cold or too hot — the arabica beans can’t grow big enough, and their taste and caffeine content suffer. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicting  higher temperatures, more frequent and severe droughts, and greater seasonal changes in the Bean Belt, things don’t look good for arabica coffee beans.

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