The specialty coffee movement has a significant and personal impact with a one-to-one approach, which is necessary and beautiful. Still, we can't fix the global climate change problem. Observing year on year and talking with our partners, we decided to take a step towards a global solution. We won't stop pursuing the small battles that hopefully win the war.
As a part of the agricultural industry, we feel roasters are obligated to help eliminate the risks that producers face each year in every country.
World Coffee Research (WCR) is a 501(c)5 non-profit agricultural research organization based in California. The main goal is to produce stable, high-yielding, high-quality, healthy, and genetically pure plants to help mitigate the global problems of leaf rust, higher temperatures, and increasingly more critical growing conditions. One of their most significant programs, implemented in 2015, is a Breeding program which we continue to observe very closely.
If you look closely at what will happen over the next 20-30 years within the coffee industry, we will go through substantial optimization of coffee production. How is World Coffee Research creating a part of the solution?
- Coffee breading through 22 National Programs where each program is in tune with the production needs of each country. Often National Programs are under-researched as they may not have appropriate resources, so WCR's role is to maximize these operations while populating new breeds globally every 3-5 years.
- By creating a centralized data system, WCR can closely and efficiently monitor yield, adaptation, durability, rust, and stability globally. Also, by providing the national programs with a plant population, they'll be able further to develop plant material for their own production country.
- Through a concept called COOPETITION – all National Programs will work together to solve fundamental issues, allowing each national program to have the same technology for its breeding population. Think global act local is the motto of WCR.
Since 2015, the IMLVT program has operated in 22 countries. As stated, almost every coffee-producing country took part in this global initiative. In 22 countries with utterly different environments, the potential of finding stable varieties with high yield, rust resistance, and good quality is enormous. In fact, after countless cupping sessions with over 60 Q-graders, quality scores are very promising. WCR has already collected material from 31 varieties in 17 environments which will help to develop the Global breeding program.
For most professionals, one question will appear. Is the breeding program and creation of new varieties connected to GMOs?
Genomic selection does not manipulate DNA. It uses the ability to "peek" inside the plant's round of crosses faster and cheaper. In simpler words, scientists look at genetic markers within the DNA and determine which genes are performers and which are not. WCR has analyzed over 3000 plants worldwide.
With the help of like-minded roasters and coffee companies, we can try to create better plant material to deliver excellent cup scores, create yield stability and prevent leaf rust from destroying producer's crops. If you see value in these global steps towards a positive future for coffee producers, we kindly ask you to support World Coffee Research initiatives as we do monthly.
A short but important video to watch from WCR. Get more information here.