Back to all post »

The Extinction of Arabica Coffee?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Like football, the Beatles and Morgan Freeman, coffee is one of those things that is universally adored the world over.

However, it seems, if researchers are to be believed, that we may be in danger of loving coffee a bit too much.


According to recent findings, the world's most popular coffee, Arabica, is under threat.

Over the last 15 years, worldwide coffee consumption has skyrocketed, increasing by 43%.

As current statistics indicate, two billion cups of coffee are drunk around the world every single day and upwards of 25 million families rely on growing coffee for a living.

And now Arabica, a species of coffee which drives the industry and accounts for the majority of coffee grown worldwide, is under threat of extinction.


Arabica is a much more fragile plant than other species of coffee such as Robusta (mainly used for instant coffee) because it only tolerates very specific environmental conditions – for instance, it is especially sensitive to changes in temperature and rainfall.

This latest warning can be traced back to 2012, when a team of researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew, United Kingdom) revealed a bleak picture for wild coffee in Ethiopia, where Arabica originated.

A computer modelling exercise predicted that environmental changes would affect Arabica for the rest of the century, and that a number of locations where wild Arabica coffee grows could decrease by as much as 85% by 2080.

And the worst-case outcome was a 99.7% reduction!

At the time, Dr Aaron Davis, the head of the coffee research team at Kew, concluded:

"If we don't do anything now and over the next 20 years, by end of the century, wild Arabica in Ethiopia could be extinct - that's in the worst-case scenario."

The future

Over the last few years, the team at Kew, in conjunction with its partners, especially those in Ethiopia, have been working tirelessly to safeguard the existing indigenous population of wild Arabica.

The hope is that this concerted effort will provide the tools to ensure coffee's survival.

For example, moving production to higher ground - where it's cooler - might be part of the solution.

And, what’s more, some areas currently unsuitable for coffee growing may become suitable in the future.

"It's jeopardy and threat in some areas, but opportunity in others," says Davis.

You can read more about the work currently being undertaken by visiting:

Over to you

What do you think about these recent warnings?

Can you imagine a world without any Arabica coffee?

As always, get in touch with us here at the Cafe2U Blog with your thoughts and opinions, we love hearing from our readers!

Back to all post »