The Coming Coffee Crisis

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  • #1
BillTre
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Oh, No!
Climate change, habitat destruction and other things seem to be putting the the wild relatives of cultivated coffee strains at risk of extinction. This would be a threat to future breeding programs of the currently used cultivars to to enhance their resistant to diseases, drier conditions, and different environments.
Surprisingly, there are more than 100 coffee species.
This Science Advances article (which I think is open access, but am not sure) also gives some interesting history of coffee's history.
 

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  • #2
Tom.G
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I say, what a sad cup-o'-tea that is! :H
 
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  • #3
symbolipoint
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My guess is that any specific supply would be more affected by regional social disturbances or by tsunamis, because of where the coffees are grown, and the kind of social & political environments where some are grown.
(I might be wrong about tsunamis, since high elevations might be inland compared to places near the coast, but I say what I say because , tropical small islands...?)
 
  • #4
Excellent point to raise. Luckily for coffee its relatives are documented species, so we can manage their population at least to some extent.
It seems there are many species that we use for agricultural purposes where this kind of monitoring is not possible because they are a cultigen.

Moving forward I hope we can see more of this research and the management strategies, perhaps we can use our consumer influence at some point to tip the scales and show that we mean business.
 
  • #5
WWGD
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Isn't it possible to artificially/synthetically replicate it, knowing its chemical make up?
 
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BillTre
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Isn't it possible to artificially/synthetically replicate it, knowing its chemical make up?
It would be similar to replicating other beverages like: beer, bourbon, tea, etc..
 
  • #7
WWGD
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It would be similar to replicating other beverages like: beer, bourbon, tea, etc..
Could caffeine alone be enough to have the coffee taste, or are there other major flavor agents to a cup of coffee? EDIT: Sorry if I am being ignorant here, this is , to understate, not my area of specialization.
 
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BillTre
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Could caffeine alone be enough to have the coffee taste, or are there other major flavor agents to a cup of coffee? EDIT: Sorry if I am being ignorant here, this is , to understate, not my area of specialization.
Caffeine alone would not taste like coffee. Like any drink made of complex components there will be numerous different chemicals some of which will be small chemical variants of others and some very distinct. The mix will produce the overall flavor.
I think caffeine itself is bitter if I recall correctly.
 
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  • #9
WWGD
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I think caffeine itself is bitter if I recall correctly.
Like we will all be if coffee disappears....;).
 
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jim mcnamara
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Here is great informational document on coffee flavor. It is complex:
http://www.coffeeresearch.org/science/aromamain.htm

The main taste aspects of coffee derive from the "aromatic" molecules, aromatic in the sense that they are volatile at moderately warm temperatures and are perceived very positively by most people.
 
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  • #11
epenguin
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When I asked people, OK not many, whether they could tell from the smell if there was sugar in their espresso, no one but me had noticed.

How about you?
 
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symbolipoint
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Caffeine alone would not taste like coffee. Like any drink made of complex components there will be numerous different chemicals some of which will be small chemical variants of others and some very distinct. The mix will produce the overall flavor.
I think caffeine itself is bitter if I recall correctly.
Good coffee is not bitter; but may contain a balance of TASTES and FLAVORS including "bitter", which altogether, feels (or "tastes") good.
 
  • #13
symbolipoint
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When I asked people, OK not many, whether they could tell from the smell if there was sugar in their espresso, no one but me had noticed.

How about you?
Although everyone's experience is his or her own, GOOD coffee will have sweet enough taste that sugar nor any sweetener is needed. No sweetener necessary.
 
  • #14
jim mcnamara
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This started out somewhat scientific and now..... let's migrate down to the coffee bar in General Discussion. :woot:
 
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symbolipoint
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This started out somewhat scientific and now..... let's migrate down to the coffee bar in General Discussion. :woot:
I wonder if any man-made climate change would or would not affect where the new tropical conditions will occur and therefore where the new coffee-growing regions would be? Thoughts on this might be interesting.
 
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BillTre
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Shouldn't that be the Coffee Bar at the End of the Universe?
 
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  • #17
I wonder if any man-made climate change would or would not affect where the new tropical conditions will occur and therefore where the new coffee-growing regions would be? Thoughts on this might be interesting.
There is a high chance that it will affect this, but it is very impractical to predict. One of the factors to take into account is that any such space might be suitable for a host of other crops that may or may not get preference by the locals that grow, and than there will also be political and perhaps economical factors involved.

Plus you may need pollinators to be included in the new area and that may bring its own complexities.
 
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  • #19
epenguin
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Although everyone's experience is his or her own, GOOD coffee will have sweet enough taste that sugar nor any sweetener is needed. No sweetener necessary.
Well I find it bitter, with additional tastes which there are no words. I think I drink fairly good coffee, and more highly prized coffee Is often more bitter still.
For the best part of a lifetime I always drunk it with sugar, and I think I was in the great majority. But a couple of years ago I decided to stop. For anyone else getting around to thinking about eliminating it for health reasons I would say it is much easier than giving up smoking. The first two days you find the unsugared coffee not very nice, and after that you are converted. I've had no temptation at all to go back to smothering the taste with sugar.

But my question was whether other people noticed the difference in smell between sugared and unsugared (espresso or other) coffee.
I'm sure that sucrose has no smell, but in solution it should affect the content and balance of aromatic substances in the vapour.
 
  • #20
BillTre
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Well I find it bitter, with additional tastes which there are no words. I think I drink fairly good coffee, and more highly prized coffee Is often more bitter still.
I think a lot of coffee can be on the bitter side, but there are some that are very smooth and not bitter. They seem to be unusual and expensive.
A trick I learned when I worked on a ship (where coffee was made and left on a heater for a couple hours), was to add a pinch of salt (NaCl).
As claimed, it seemed to make the bitterness go away. Later I read (in some journal) that the Na+Cl- ions interacted with some specific ion channels involved in sensing bitter compounds in the water and inhibited their function.
Thus the bitterness conditions, in the solution being sensed were not sensed due to blockage in the membrane channel function.

But my question was whether other people noticed the difference in smell between sugared and unsugared (espresso or other) coffee.
I'm sure that sucrose has no smell, but in solution it should affect the content and balance of aromatic substances in the vapour.
I don't use sugar anymore either (usually) so I don't run into it very frequently.
It would not surprise me of it were smellable. I know I can smell water, from a distance, for example.

Spray from an ocean could easily create small droplets of the water. They would be a direct sampling of the water content, but depend upon extreme mechanical water turbulence to form (such as waves crashing on rocks). This wouldn't be happening in a warm cup of espresso, although it would be pretty hot.
Or would it?

Would the heat be enough to launch the sugar molecules into the air, in an evaporation kind of way? I don't know.
Water (H2O) mole. wt.: 18
Sugar (sucrose) mole. wt.: >340
Big difference: >18x

If some sugar molecules were evaporated into the air, they would probably not have any problem redissolving into any micro droplets the may be condensing around them (steam). This would put them in solution with water.
 
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  • #21
WWGD
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Well I find it bitter, with additional tastes which there are no words. I think I drink fairly good coffee, and more highly prized coffee Is often more bitter still.
For the best part of a lifetime I always drunk it with sugar, and I think I was in the great majority. But a couple of years ago I decided to stop. For anyone else getting around to thinking about eliminating it for health reasons I would say it is much easier than giving up smoking. The first two days you find the unsugared coffee not very nice, and after that you are converted. I've had no temptation at all to go back to smothering the taste with sugar.

But my question was whether other people noticed the difference in smell between sugared and unsugared (espresso or other) coffee.
I'm sure that sucrose has no smell, but in solution it should affect the content and balance of aromatic substances in the vapour.
Maybe you will cringe at this, but I use sweeteners like Splenda, Equal , which have kind of ruined my taste: I now need like 3-4 sugar packs where 1/2 or at most one is enough.
 
  • #22
Tom.G
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I'm sure that sucrose has no smell
I can assure you it does in bulk! I once did the control system at a sweetner warehouse/distribution facility where they had a couple of silos full of granulated sugar (about half a million pounds total). The smell is best described as pungent. Definitely not appetizing to smell even if it does taste good. :oldruck:

Cheers,
Tom
 
  • #23
symbolipoint
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This started out somewhat scientific and now..... let's migrate down to the coffee bar in General Discussion. :woot:
I can assure you it does in bulk! I once did the control system at a sweetner warehouse/distribution facility where they had a couple of silos full of granulated sugar (about half a million pounds total). The smell is best described as pungent. Definitely not appetizing to smell even if it does taste good. :oldruck:

Cheers,
Tom
 
  • #24
StatGuy2000
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I admit that I personally have never developed a taste for coffee, and likely never will (curiously enough, I am the only person in my family that does not like coffee).

That being said, I think we should take the concern about the potential risk of extinction of wild strains of coffee due (at least in part) to the effects of climate change, because I would imagine that various non-domesticated relatives of crops commonly grown today for food may well face similar situations -- think of corn, wheat, rice, etc.

As an avid tea drinker, I wonder about the potential impact of climate change on both tea production and the potential survival of wild relatives of the tea plant.
 

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