World Coffee Research
Businesses, organizations, and individuals are planning for a more sustainable future. From reducing waste to sourcing sustainable goods, the actions we take now will benefit us down the road. But have you thought about what the future of coffee might look like? Not very many people have.
The future of coffee is at major risk and World Coffee Research is the only organization in the world applying advanced agricultural science to coffee on a world-wide, collaborative basis. The work they put in now will ensure the future of coffee.
The Need For Research
Formed by the Global Coffee Industry in 2012, World Coffee Research is an organization of researchers working on a new generation of coffee varieties, as a response to several threats facing the coffee industry, and the dire need for innovation in coffee farming.
The combination of rising demand and lower yields due to changes in coffee climates put farmers at risk of going out of business. In several countries, farmers struggle to keep up with production because of the effects climate change has on their crops. As the environments where coffee is grown continue to change, coffee plants become more and more susceptible to diseases. Without research and innovation, we are not only gambling the risk of farmers abandoning their farms and selling the land for development, we are also risking the diversity and availability of coffee.
The Evolution of Coffee
In the mid-1700s, arabica coffee began spreading around the world. At that time, most coffees came from two varieties called “Typica” and “Bourbon”. In the mid-20th century, breeders began introducing varieties that were resistant to coffee leaf rust, a common disease that can wipe out coffee farms. Despite some new, exciting advancements, coffee is one of the most under-researched and under-innovated crops in the world.
To put this into context, there are 3,442 strawberry varieties and only 52 coffee varieties. That’s 56 times more innovation in strawberry breeding than in coffee. For centuries, the success of agriculture has relied on new developments and technologies to adapt to growing demand, as well as the evolving crops and their ability to withstand climate change.
The Future of Coffee
Through numerous field studies on coffee and coffee hybrids, World Coffee Research works with several countries to develop the next generation of high yielding, climate-smart coffee varieties, while increasing quality and flavor. There are currently 58 new varieties in development.
These new varieties are not genetically modified. In fact, World Coffee Research has a policy against genetic modification. The coffee variations are developed using traditional cross-pollinating methods – literally painting pollen from the flower of one coffee tree onto the flower of another.
One variety that shows promising results is called the F1 hybrid. This coffee is highly tolerant to diseases and pests, can produce between 22-46% higher yields, is climate resilient, and still capable of scoring 90+ (which is very high in the coffee grading scale).
With these new discoveries, World Coffee Research must ensure farmers have access to this information, to help farms across the world benefit from the research going into the trials. In an initiative to give access to any farmer who wants to learn about these new hybrids, they’ve developed the first-ever, global coffee variety catalog online.
These coffee plants are in the very beginning stages of getting into the hands of farmers. It takes three years for a new tree to produce coffee, so it will be a few years until we begin to see this new variety in our actual cups.
Allegro x World Coffee Research
As a founding member, Allegro Coffee has supported World Coffee Research since day one. Thanks to our Sourcing Director, Christy Thorns, who was a founding board member and an essential reason we’ve been able to help get other partners on board, too. “World Coffee Research’s commitment to improve and expand the supply of fine Arabica coffees over the coming years will ultimately help to increase the income to coffee farmers.” Christy’s confidence in World Coffee Research is a large reason we’ve mobilized matching funds from importers, more than any other roaster to date, to help fund more research.
We are incredibly proud and passionate about the work World Coffee Research is doing. They started with the goal of ensuring farmers livelihoods and incomes through a sustainable way to continue to grow coffee. Our perspective on sourcing coffee is that how we source must be beneficial to the farmer. So it was a no-brainer to join forces with World Coffee Research when the opportunity arose.
Your Morning Cup
Whether you’re a devout Small Batch, pour-over, self-proclaimed coffee nerd, or a cream and sugar, Organic French Roast addict… all of the coffee we roast depends on a diverse roster of coffee origins. No matter what’s in your cup, it comes from across the world. And without research and new advances, all of the coffee in the world could slowly dwindle down to just two countries producing it all, affecting farmers, roasters, and coffee drinkers. If you’re buying coffee today or in 20 years, buying Allegro is a direct way to support sustainable sourcing, and the future of coffee.