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West Africa Is Home to New Coffee Flavour 

The cultivation of arabica and robusta coffee beans accounts for millions of livelihoods across Africa, South America and Asia. Arabica is a cool tropical plant; it doesn’t like high temperatures. Robusta is a plant that likes even moist conditions; it likes high rainfall. And under climate change, rainfall patters are being modified, and it’s also experiencing problems. In some cases, yields are dramatically reduced because of increased temperatures or reduced rainfall. But in some cases, as seen in Ethiopia, you might get a complete harvest failure and death of the trees. The solution could be growing deep in the forests of West Africa. There are around 130 species of coffee plant – but not all taste good. In Sierra Leone, scientists from Kew helped to identify one candidate, stenophylla, growing in the wild. The team at the Botanic Gardens is working with farmers in Africa on cultivating the new coffees commercially. Catherine Kiwuka of the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organization, who oversees some of the projects, says challenges still lie ahead. It’s hoped that substantial volumes of liberica coffee will be exported from Uganda to Europe this year.