Could Your Next Bag of Coffee Beans Be Grown in California?

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Climate change’s reach is being felt in all corners of the world, and coffee beans are no exception.

Now, California is getting in on the coffee market and research in efforts to help save our most precious morning cuppa.

While the world’s best coffee beans are presently grown in more tropical climates, the Union of Concerned Scientists notes that “higher temperatures, long droughts punctuated by intense rainfall, more resilient pests and plant diseases—all of which are associated with climate change—have reduced coffee supplies dramatically in recent years.”

But a new coffee center at UC Davis that is “bringing together people who study food science, genetics, marketing and the social aspects of coffee,” is looking at ways of adapting coffee beans to climate change. “Despite coffee's status as the second most widely traded commodity in the world, there hasn't been much scientific research devoted to it anywhere,” NPR explains.

Several California growers are experimenting with coffee beans and having some success. Just outside of Santa Barbara, Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics is successfully growing several types of coffee beans. “Five years ago, University of California Cooperative Extension helped him plant coffee, and this year his small crew is harvesting several coffee varieties never before grown here,” NPR explains. “That makes him the first known farmer to make a real go at growing coffee commercially in the continental U.S.”

Juan Medrano, a professor in the School of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis told NPR that protecting coffee from climate change also means protecting livelihoods for “hundreds of millions of people.”

While California coffee like what’s growing on Ruskey’s farm is still a long way from being served up at even a small local coffee shop, just knowing that there’s effort and research being put into helping coffee crops thrive is enough to make the next cup taste a little smoother for a whole lot of coffee fans.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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