Coffee Plant Facing Extinction by 2080

By: Dominique Zamora

It looks like science has finally found at least one reason to hope the Mayans were right. Otherwise, 70 years from now we could be living in a world where a single cup of Joe costs upwards of 60 dollars, or worse, is just a fairy tale we tell our kids as we grumpily haul their asses into bed.

According to a recent study released by the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, all the world’s wild Arabica coffee plants could be completely extinct by 2080, thanks to increasing global temperatures and the plant’s own hyper sensitivity to the weather.

That is, since Arabica’s optimal annual temperature range is 18 – 21°C, temperatures above 23 °C result in a “loss in beverage quality,” and temperatures above 30 °C cause “stress.” Enough stress, apparently, to wipe out the entire freaking species.

Granted, most of the coffee we drink comes not from wild Arabica itself, but from its tamer, more cultivated offspring, but wild bean varieties are nevertheless vital to maintaining enough genetic diversity within the species to be able to combat future problems with pests, drought and disease.

Since temperatures have consistently risen over the past 100 years, however, scientists predict that by 2080, the most favorable outcome is a 38-65% reduction in the amount of land capable of sustaining the wild Arabica, and the least favorable being a 90-100% reduction, based on both area and locality analyses.

Now, I won’t pretend to know the difference between an “area” and a “locality,” but there’s no denying those numbers sound unbearably bleak. Arabica accounts for approximately 70% of the world’s global coffee production, and while we could all just suck it up and learn to drink our Robusta black (or drown it all in creamer), this news will more likely result in much of the coffee market just “disappearing” come 2080.

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