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Scientists rediscover rare, wild coffee species that could save coffee from climate change

One of the many crops under threat from climate change is many people's favourite drink, coffee. However, scientists have identified a coffee-making plant that could be more strong against climate change.

This grand plant is stenophylla coffee or Coffea stenophylla. It is a wild and relatively rare species found in Upper West Africa. Compared with the more commonly used coffee plants, it’s better equipped to handle climate shifts. Too add, it has a similar flavour to high-quality Arabica coffee made from the arabica (C. arabica) plant. Arabica, which dominates 75 percent of the market, is under threat from climate change, since the plant needs very specific conditions to grow.

Scientists tested samples of C. stenophylla to figure out its taste, and ran models to assess the sort of conditions it could grow under. It can manage temperatures of up to 24.9 °C or 76.8 °F – warmer conditions than either C. arabica or C. canephora variety.

Research suggests the stenophylla plant can survive periods of drought and is also partially resistant to coffee leaf rust. Stenophylla coffee has also proved popular with coffee tasting experts in blind taste tests carried out over the past year, the researchers report.

“This species substantially broadens the climate envelope for high-quality coffee and could provide an important resource for the development of climate-resilient coffee crop plants,” write the researchers in their paper.

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