Your Morning Coffee May Be More Than a Half Million Years Old

Researchers have discovered that the world’s most popular type of coffee, known as Coffea arabica or “arabica,” has a history of 600,000 years. The species emerged around 600,000 years ago through natural crossbreeding of two other coffee species, with the first roasted and brewed coffee being in Yemen in the 1400s. The Arabica coffee plant, prized for its smooth and relatively sweet flavor, now makes up 60%-70% of the global coffee market and is brewed by brands like Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and Dunkin’.

The arabica plant’s population fluctuated over thousands of years before humans began cultivating it, flourishing during warm, wet periods and suffering through dry ones. This led to population bottlenecks, where only a small number of genetically similar plants survived. Today, this makes arabica coffee plants more vulnerable to diseases like coffee leaf rust, which cause billions of dollars in losses every year. Researchers explored the makeup of one arabica variety that is resistant to coffee leaf rust, highlighting sections of its genetic code that could help protect the plant.

The study clarifies how arabica came to be and spotlights clues that could help safeguard the crop. Exploring arabica’s past and present could yield insight into keeping coffee plants healthy and coffee cups full for future early mornings. The research was published in the journal Nature Genetics and contributed by researchers from Nestlé, which owns several coffee brands.

Read More @ AP News

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