Could coffee become extinct?

Three in five wild coffee species are on the brink of extinction, thanks to climate change, disease and infestation, and deforestation, a Wednesday Physorg article said.

A tremendous amount of coffee is consumed daily – over two billion cups, to be exact. However, the coffee industry is entirely reliant on the wild varieties grown in select regions to “maintain commercial crop variety and adapt to changing threats posed by pests,” the article said.

Using innovative computer modelling techniques and “on-the-ground research,” scientists from Britain’s Kew Royal Botanic Gardens set out to determine how the 124 coffee varieties listed as endangered would hold out as the planet continues to go to hell in terms of global warming.

Roughly 75 coffee species were recognized as being threatened with extinction. Of those 75, 13 were labelled as critically endangered, 40 as endangered, and 22 as vulnerable, the article said.

“Overall, the fact that the extinction risk across all coffee species was so high—nearly 60 percent—that’s way above normal extinction risk figures for plants,” Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at Kew, told AFP, the article states.

It’s also crucial to acknowledge that the threat to coffee is also a threat to the farmers who produce it.

With global coffee production primarily leaning on the arabica and robusta species, the threat of coffee becoming extinct is looming. The Arabica species accounts for approximately 60 per cent of all coffee sold worldwide, the article says, though is only grown in Ethiopia and South Sudan.

While coffee likely will not become extinct overnight, it’s definitely something we as consumers need to remain mindful of in the coming years. I can’t say I can offer a solution to this threat, however, education and environmental advocacy go a long way in spreading awareness of global warming. This issue is real, prevalent and pressing, and it demands our attention more than ever before.

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