Six new coffee species (Coffea) have been formally introduced to the world of science, bringing the global total of recognized coffee species to 130.
While not likely to be transformed by commercial applications any time soon, the six new species are significant considering coffee’s remarkable lack of genetic diversity combined with the fact that many of the world’s wild coffee species are in danger of extinction.
While arabica (Coffea Arabica) and robusta (Coffea Canephora) remain the primary species for commercial cultivation, others such as liberica and the more recently re-discovered stenophylla have opened up new doors to potential coffee cultivation — doors that may one day be important outlets as climate change threatens existing coffee production systems.
Each of the six newly named wild coffee species were discovered in the forests of northern Madagascar — home to 65 of the known coffee species — with four of those species believed to be narrowly endemic to specific forest areas.
The discoveries were made and published by Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Franck Rakotonasolo of the Botanical and Zoological Garden of Tsimbazaza and the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC), following numerous field expeditions and lab testing.
In an open-source publication of the new coffee species, the researchers provided distribution maps, conservation assessments, phenology and taxonomic notes for each of the six species, plus line drawings of two of the species.
The names of the new coffee species are:
- Coffea callmanderi
- Coffea darainensis
- Coffea kalobinonensis
- Coffea microdubardii
- Coffea pustulata
- Coffea rupicola