A once-prized coffee species, rediscovered in West Africa decades after it was thought to have disappeared, is just as tasty as high-end Coffea arabica and more resilient to climate change, researchers said on Monday, adding that the forgotten bean could help future-proof quality coffee.
While there are more than 100 known coffee species, the world gets its caffeine hit mostly from the beans of just two — Coffea arabica, considered to be the superior brew, and the less-refined Coffea canephora, or Robusta, most commonly used for instant mixes.
Climate change presents a serious problem for the multibillion-dollar coffee industry and the about 100 million farmers worldwide who earn a living from cultivating the crop.
Photo: AFP / CRB Coffea, IRD-DIRAD
Arabica, which originates in the highlands of Ethiopia and South Sudan, is a cool tropical plant, preferring average annual temperatures of about 19°C.
The species is thought to be more vulnerable to global warming than Robusta, which can endure up to about 23°C.
However, the newly rediscovered Coffea stenophylla is known to tolerate conditions similar to Robusta, but with a higher average temperature of 24.9°C — more than 6°C higher than Arabica, a study in Nature Plants said.
Photo: Royal Botanical Gardens / AFP
To find a coffee species with both resilience and taste is “a once-in-a-lifetime scientific discovery,” said Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew coffee research head Aaron Davis, who led the research.
“This species could be essential for the future of high-quality coffee,” he added.
Reports from the 1800s and early 1900s considered Coffea stenophylla — endemic to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast — to be superior even to Arabica, its popularity spreading to cafes across France.
Coffea stenophylla fell out of use in the 20th century, vanishing completely from the record in 1954, until scientists finally found it growing in the wild in Sierra Leone in 2018 and set about studying its temperature tolerance — and its flavor.
Last year, they carried out a blind taste test with a jury of industry professionals from coffee brands Nespresso and Jacobs Douwe Egberts.
“The judges all found it different from what they know, with vegetal notes,” said Delphine Mieulet, scientist at the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development, which organized the tasting.
The new coffee had notes of “rose, elderflower, lychee — like the best Arabica,” she said, adding that the sample provided was so rare that not everyone was able to taste it.
Mieulet said she is confident that Coffea stenophylla would become commercially available, but that it might take several years.
‘TRAVEL FREELY’: Visitors from 10 countries deemed low-risk would be allowed into Thailand, while others must still undergo a week of quarantine at a hotel Thailand plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists from countries deemed low risk from Nov. 1, the country’s leader said on Monday, citing the urgent need to save the kingdom’s ailing economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year drawn to its picturesque beaches and robust nightlife, with tourism making up almost 20 percent of its national income. However, pandemic-related travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the country would be reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists travelling by air from
Vaccination is highly effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, even against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, a vast study in France has shown. The research published yesterday — focusing on prevention of severe COVID-19 and death, not infection — looked at 22 million people over 50 and found those who had received jabs were 90 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die. The results confirm observations from the US, the UK and Israel, but researchers say it is the largest study of its kind so far. Looking at data collected starting in December last year, when France launched its vaccination campaign,
Australia’s highest court yesterday dismissed an intellectual freedom claim by a university physicist who was fired in part over his public statements that scientists exaggerated damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Five High Court judges unanimously dismissed physicist Peter Ridd’s claim that he had been unlawfully dismissed in 2018 by James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. The court ruled that a clause in his employment contract that protected his intellectual freedom was not a “general freedom of speech” clause and did not protect him from being fired for serious misconduct under the university’s code of conduct. Australian Minister for Education Alan Tudge said
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: The US and the EU have said they are ready to back humanitarian initiatives in Afghanistan, but are wary of providing direct support to the Taliban Afghanistan’s new Taliban government has warned US and European envoys that continued attempts to pressure it through sanctions would undermine security and could trigger a wave of economic refugees. Acting Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi told Western diplomats at talks in Doha that “weakening the Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone because its negative effects will directly affect the world in [the] security sector and economic migration from the country,” a statement published late on Tuesday showed. The Taliban overthrew Afghanistan’s former US-backed government in August after a two-decade-long conflict, and have declared an Islamic emirate