Coffea Stenophylla is the new generation coffee in the world? - Moka Coffee

Will we drink the coffee from the “Coffea Stenophylla“plant?

“Coffea stenophylla” which was rediscovered only a few years ago in West Africa, resists higher temperatures and will become the dominant coffee as global warming progresses.

A variety of the plant found in Sierra Leone withstands higher temperatures than Arabica, a feature that will be increasingly important.

According to a study published in 2019 in Science Advanced by researchers at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England, around 60 per cent of the 124 species of wild coffee plants are vulnerable or threatened with extinction due to deforestation and climate change.

Among these there is also the Arabica coffee, which is the plant from which the most valuable and popular type of coffee on the market comes.

Recently, some of these researchers conducted a new study on a coffee plant that had actually been forgotten, and which turned out to have the right characteristics to be able to withstand higher temperatures.

But above all, it seems to have a quality and taste very similar to that of Arabica: and therefore, according to scientists, it could be a very important resource for the production of coffee in the coming years.


Coffee in the world

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world but it is also a particularly delicate plant, which can be grown in specific environmental conditions that occur in Africa and in some regions of Latin America and Asia.

According to some studies, due to deforestation and the increase in temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities, in 2050 the areas where coffee can be grown will be only half of those in which it currently grows, with major consequences on the production, availability and prices of coffee on the market.

The discovery of coffea Stenophylla

It all started when Aaron Davis, lead researcher of the Royal Botanical Gardens team, came across an old study by Scottish botanist George Don, dating back to 1834.

Don described a wild coffee plant he had observed in some hilly areas of the Sierra. Leone, in West Africa, claiming that from its berries a higher quality coffee was obtained than that produced by the Arabica coffee.

Don had named this wild plant coffea stenophylla.

Aron Davis and a group of other researchers therefore decided to try to better study this rare plant, which until a few years ago was thought to be almost extinct, and described its properties and potential in a study published in Nature Plants on April 19.


Transition from Canephora to Stenophylla

Scientists have discovered that Stenophylla was cultivated until the 1920s, and then was gradually forgotten as it was replaced by plantations of Coffea Canephora, the plant from which the “Robusta” coffee variety is obtained – the second most popular after Arabica -, which gave more abundant harvests.

Contrary to what was thought, moreover, the researchers also observed that the Stenophylla has started to grow spontaneously both in Sierra Leone and further east, in some areas of Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

According to the results of the study, Stenophylla is particularly resistant: it grows from 200 to 700 meters above sea level and between 24 and 26 degrees, at temperatures about 6.5 degrees higher than those in which Arabica grows.

It doesn’t even need more heavy rains. From its berries a high quality coffee is obtained, both in terms of flavor and aroma: 80 percent of the coffee tasters the researchers had tried the drink made from the plant believed it was Arabica.

Many of them found more fruity and less bitter notes than other varieties of both Robusta and Arabica.

For these reasons, stenophylla could be an important resource for growing high-quality coffee under different climatic conditions, according to the researchers.

How to solve the Coffee problem

Some scientists thought that Arabica could withstand temperatures of up to 30 degrees, but recent studies have shown that it does not bloom above 24.

Other coffee species generally have smaller berries and guarantee lower yields and lower quality coffee.

Now, according to the researchers, cultivating stenophylla or crossing it with other species to strengthen its characteristics could contribute at least in part to understanding how to solve the problem of the great demand for coffee in the face of climate change.

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