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This new coffee bean brings new hope for coffee drinkers around the world5 min read

May 2, 2021 4 min read

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This new coffee bean brings new hope for coffee drinkers around the world5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Ripe berries on a coffee plant. Image: Science Alert
Robert Doornbos Coffee Sticker by Caffe Cerco Italy

Did you know that coffee, as we know it, could be reduced to half by 2050? Yup, like almost everything else in this world, coffee has been impacted by climate change. About half of the fields in which coffee is currently grown could be barren by 2050. The good news: scientists have already found an alternative to the coffee that we’re all so used to drinking. And, what’s more, is that it tastes just as good.

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Did you know that you should not consume coffee before the age of 12? And, if you’re between the ages of 12 and 18, it’s probably best you keep away from unsweetened or excess coffee. That’s because coffee contains a substance called caffeine that gives it a refreshing quality. However, too much caffeine is not healthy for the body, and when you are younger, caffeine isn’t good for the body at all!

Good Morning Coffee Sticker by Geo Law

Moreover, a lot of the sodas and packaged foods that younger people consume already contain enough caffeine. Drinking coffee over that would create an unnecessary and unhealthy excess in our bodies. Now, who would want that?

If you do decide to give coffee a try, make sure you have it well-diluted in milk and nicely sweetened as the bitter taste could catch anyone off- guard.

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The different beans

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the different beans and their resilience in the face of climate change, let’s learn a little about coffee. Watch this video to find out about the story of the coffee in your cup. 

So, now that you’re acquainted with the coffee plant: let’s meet the most popular bean in the market: Arabica. The Arabica bean comes from trees that grow at higher altitudes, and its rich flavour has made it one of the most wanted beans in the world. In fact, 60% of the coffee we drink comes just from the Arabica Bean (Coffea arabica)!

Arabica Coffee History and Facts
The Arabica Coffee Bean. Image: ThoughtCo

That is fascinating when you consider that there are, in fact, more than 100 types of coffee beans that grow in the wild! However, we mainly drink two main coffee crops since most wild coffees don’t hold the flavour that makes the crop famous.

Can you name the other coffee crop that is commonly used in our drinks?

Stenophylla

Coffea stenophylla
Coffea stenophylla. Image: BBC

The problem with Arabica, our favourite and most flavourful coffee bean, is that it can’t stand high temperatures and the negative impacts of climate. However, just in the nick of time, scientists have found an alternative. The once-forgotten wild coffee bean – Stenophylla- has come to the rescue.

Coffea stenophylla is a wild coffee species from West Africa. It was once cultivated but was thought to have gone extinct about a hundred years ago. However, recently scientists found the crop growing in the wild in Sierra Leone! They were immediately intrigued. Reports that the wild plant was, in fact, very flavourful made them give it a try themselves. 

Stenophylla was re-discovered growing wild in Sierra Leone after a search of remote forests
The Stenophylla coffee plat was growing wild in the forests of Sierra Leone. Image: BBC

“We were completely blown away by the fact that this coffee tasted amazing. It has these other attributes related to its climate tolerance: it will grow and crop under much warmer conditions than Arabica coffee.”

Dr Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Taste Test

The scientists took a small sample of Stenophylla coffee beans and roasted them. Then, they brewed the roasted beans into their favourite coffee drinks and offered them to a panel of expert coffee tasters (yup, that’s a thing). These experts had to differentiate between the Stenophylla coffee and the world’s most popular coffee, Arabica, simply by tasting the coffee. 

Stenophylla is naturally sweet and fruity
Stenophylla is naturally sweet and fruity. Image: BBC
Good Morning Cat Sticker by Words With Friends

Can you guess what happened? Well, 80% of the judges could not tell the difference at all! So, not only can the Stenophylla bean tolerate temperatures at least 6 degrees Centigrade higher than Arabica, but it also tastes just as good. So, if all goes well, get ready to drink Stenophylla coffee by the time you’re old enough to sip on your daily refreshing dose of coffee.

You’ve probably heard the terms cappuccino and espresso before? But, do you know what they mean? Coffee is prepared in several ways, watch this video to learn about six of the most popular preparations and what makes them special.

With Excerpts From: ScienceAlert, BBC, Nature, and The Times of India.

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