What is wild coffee and why do we need it?
As most people are now aware the global coffee trade, the coffee we drink, comes from two species – Arabica (Coffea arabica) and Robusta (Coffea canephora). A third species – Liberica (Coffea liberica) is grown around the world, but is rarely used for coffee drinks.
In fact, there are 122 coffee species on top of that which occur naturally in the wild.
The vast majority of wild coffee grows in the remote forests of Africa and on the island of Madagascar. Beyond Africa, wild coffee is found in other tropical climates, including parts of India, Sri Lanka, and even Australia.
Many of these wild coffees do not taste good to drink, but may contain genes that can be harnessed to help coffee plants survive in the future, amid climate change and emerging diseases that attack coffee trees.
In the longer term, we will need to call on wild species to safeguard the future of the world’s coffee crop, say researchers.
“If it wasn’t for wild species we wouldn’t have as much coffee to drink in the world today,” said Dr Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
A summary of an article compiled by Helen Briggs for the BBC News, “The coffees you’ve never heard of which face extinction”