To put up a blog post of our idea.
Saw this photo of today’s weather online:
February 17, 2020 weather in Europe
This has been on my mind all winter. I thought living in New York meant heavy snow and coats galore (I brought so many sweaters). Yet, I find myself going out in shorts to get groceries or visit my local deli. I don’t mind the warmth, but it’s worrying. As the picture above shows it’s not just New York either, but Europe too and the same is going on around the globe. Napoleon Bonaparte’s and Hitler’s invasions of Russia (1812; 1941) could be successful, if this was the kind of winter they were facing.
According to research by Davis et al. (Science Advances Jan 16, 2019) of Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew at least “60% of coffee species are threatened with extinction”.
Waffle chart, showing the proportion and number of threatened, nonthreatened, and DD coffee species in main blocks, and the proportion and number of coffee species assigned to each IUCN extinction risk category. The total number of species is 124 [CR, 10.5% (13 species); EN, 32.3% (40 species); VU, 17.7% (22 species); NT, 8% (10 species); LC, 21% (26 species); DD, 11.3% (14 species)]. Each square is equal to one species.
The authors of this article state that Robusta has been getting traction over Arabica due to its resistance to coffee leaf rust. Overall, they are saying that there are so many challenges ranging from climate change issues to social and economic problems.
Map showing threatened coffee species by TDWG level 3 areas (countries or subdivisions of countries.
I did not realize that deforestation also could cause extinction of wild coffee. Researchers say that most people (myself included apparently) don’t even know that there are more than a couple of species of coffee. There are 124 species of coffee and some of them that grow in the wild are in danger due to deforestation and erosion, not to mention climate change and drought.
We hope our findings will be used to influence the work of scientists, policy makers and coffee sector stakeholders to secure the future of coffee production — not only for coffee lovers around the world, but also as a source of income for farming communities in some of the most impoverished places in the world.”Dr. Davis
Biodesigning the Future of Food
One thing this class has taught me so far is to think of future with one foot in the present. It’s easy to dream of an apocalypse where we are in space and life on Earth sucks because running away from problems is easy.
An alternative to coffee that was suggested to me is chicory – a wild flowering plant. Its root is ground up, roasted and made into a drink. Its history as a medicinal plant is ancient, but its modern history starts with the French in 19th century “after Napoleon initiated the ‘Continental Blockade’ in 1808, which deprived the French of most of their coffee”. They added chicory to coffee and voilà, chicory coffee New Orleans blend is a thing.
Another alternative that I was surprised to find is mushroom coffee. Yes, mushroom + coffee. Acorrding to Tero Isokauppila of Four Sigmatic, apparently due to war rations during World War 2 the Finns were brewing their traditional chaga tea, and chaga “is a mushroom that grows in cold climates around the world, especially throughout Scandinavia.”
To conclude towards my idea…
So, Robusta is a bitter coffee that is used mostly for instant coffee and espresso, the species is more resistant than Arabica. Chicory is wild plant, its root has been used in addition to coffee and sometimes as a substitute. Chaga mushrooms grow in cold places. What if I combine the three? It could be that in the future when there are less coffee plants, it would be more economical to have blends in order to not consume all of coffee. Call it Chaga Chicory Coffee, or Triple C.