What? Even More Science (and Coffee)? Hurray…

Well sort of. I’ve got two science (and coffee) stories for you today.

This one is truly fascinating, though it probably doesn’t affect a lot of our readers. It seems (and this was news to me) that Uganda is the second largest coffee producer in Africa (behind Ethiopia), but most of its crop is robusta (which is why most of us in specialty coffee aren’t affected by this). The story, though, from BusinessWeek is about efforts to develop coffee trees that are naturally resistent to wilt disease. From the story:

Wilt disease, a fungus that predominantly affects the robusta variety of coffee, was first detected in Uganda in 1993 and has destroyed about 150 million trees, according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, which oversees the industry. Uganda is Africa’s biggest producer of robusta, with the variety accounting for 85 percent of total coffee exports.

The financial loss to Uganda because of the disease is estimated at $500 million during the last 10 years, according to the Web site of CABI International, a non-profit organization. Output by smallholders in the East African country has halved because of the disease, the Oxfordshire, U.K.-based group said.

Let’s hope that the efforts are successful if for no other reason than it’s got to be dang hard to be a small coffee farmer anywhere, let alone when half your crop can be wiped out by a disease at any time.

Now for a science story from the opposite end of the spectrum, that is, something that we don’t need, and I have hard time imagining anyone really wants. But what do I know? The world is full of things that are popular that I don’t understand.

Anyway, Harvard researchers have now brought us inhalable coffee. That’s right. You want a cup of coffee, but you don’t have time to drink it? No worries, just snort it! What could possibly go wrong with that? Thanks, Harvard!

About Ken 262 Articles
Kenneth R. Olson (he/him) is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, the Washington Huskies, and public libraries.