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Brief Published: 7 Jun 2021

Scientists Rediscover Climate-Resistant Wild Coffee Species

Scientists have rediscovered a climate-stable coffee species

With climate change threatening to wipe out half of all land suitable for coffee production by 2050, the race is on to find new strains that can withstand these complications. Scientists in Sierra Leone believe they have done just that with the rediscovery of a hardy coffee species not seen in the wild since 1954.

The species, called Coffea Stenophylla, can withstand a mean annual temperature of 78.6°F – 12.24° hotter than Arabica and 3.42° higher than Robusta varieties (The Washington Post, 2021), which together currently make up 99% of the entire world’s coffee supply. It’s also resistant to drought and leaf rust, a fungal disease that can devastate coffee crops.

Coffea Stenophylla is similar in taste to Arabica, with 80% of blind taste testers unable to tell the difference between the two. This is pertinent as Arabica – which is considered superior to Robusta and generates higher prices – is particularly sensitive to changes in climate conditions.

This discovery could be a game-changer for the growing $465.9bn global coffee industry, as shifting weather patterns continue to threaten production and farmers’ livelihoods.

To read up on the current coffee market and the consumer demand for more sustainable options, read Coffee 2021: Sector Outlook and Meet the New Coffee Consumers. For a further example of how scientists are looking to future-proof coffee consumption, read Faux Coffee that Skips the Bean.