COFFEE is under threat from climate change, according to a study that found that arabica beans could face extinction within decades.
Rising global temperatures and subtle changes in seasonal conditions could make 99.7pc of arabica-growing areas unsuitable for the plant by 2080, according to a study by researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the UK.
Although commercial growers could still maintain crops by watering and cooling them, the wild variety has much greater genetic diversity, essential to help plantations overcome threats such as pests and disease.
Identifying new sites where arabica could be grown away from its natural home in the mountains of Ethiopia and South Sudan could be the only way of preventing the demise of the species, researchers said.
Justin Moat, one of the report's authors, said: "The worst-case scenario is that wild arabica could be extinct by 2080."
Arabica is one of only two species of bean used to make coffee, and is by far the most popular, accounting for 70pc of the global market, including almost all fresh coffee sold.
A different bean, known as robusta, is used in freeze-dried coffee and is commonly drunk in Greece and Turkey, but its high caffeine content makes it much less pleasant to most palates.
The new study, published in the online journal 'PLOS ONE', used computer modelling to predict the survival prospects of arabica coffee for the first time. (© Daily Telegraph, London)