Wild Coffee Species at Risk of Extinction

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. teeter on the brink of / ˈtiːtɚ ɑːn ðə brɪŋk ʌv / (idiom) – to be very close to a bad or difficult condition

    Many plant and animal species are teetering on the brink of extinction because of climate change.

  2. pivotal / ˈpɪvətl̟ / (adj) – very important or crucial

    The environment department’s decision is pivotal in keeping the wild coffee plants from going extinct.

  3. underscore / ˈʌndɚˌskoɚ / (v) – to emphasize or highlight something

    The scientist underscored the importance of protecting wild coffee species.

  4. ward off (something) / woɚd ɑːf / (phrasal) – to prevent something bad from happening

    Scientists are looking for solutions to ward off the extinction of wild coffee species.

  5. invaluable / ɪnˈvæljəbəl / (adj) – having great value

    The ability to resist diseases is an invaluable trait for any organism.


Read the text below.

Two recent studies have revealed that wild coffee species are teetering on the brink of extinction.

The studies found that 60% of 124 wild coffee species in the world can soon go extinct. One of the 124 species studied is wild Arabica coffee, which is used to produce different coffee blends that many consumers enjoy. According to the studies, the population of Arabica coffee may decrease by at least 50% by 2088.

The studies identified two pivotal factors that threaten the wild coffee species’ population. One factor is climate change. Over the last 30 years, the average temperature in Ethiopia, where Arabica coffee is grown, has increased by 1.3 degrees Celsius. Other studies pointed out that warmer temperatures can cause diseases on Arabica plants. Moreover, higher temperatures can kill insects that are key to Arabica coffee’s reproduction in the wild.

Deforestation is another factor that threatens wild coffee species. Because a lot of agricultural lands are affected by climate change, farmers tend to convert rainforests into farms. This move, however, causes wild coffee plants to lose their natural habitat.

Scientists underscored the importance of wild coffee to ensure sustainable coffee production. To ward off the impending extinction of wild coffee species, scientists are calling for stronger efforts.

Specifically, scientists suggest genetic interbreeding, the use of different species to produce a new type of coffee bean. Through this method, the new type of coffee bean will be bred to possess invaluable genetic attributes, such as resilience against pests and drought.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think will happen if coffee becomes extinct? Discuss.
• Aside from what was mentioned, what do you think can be done to prevent coffee from becoming extinct?

Discussion B

• Aside from coffee, what other plant or animal species do you think are affected by deforestation? Explain.
• What do you think will be the impact if these species go extinct? Give details.