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January 24, 2013

Research & Collections

by Meg Lowman

Coffee is migrating. As it’s getting hotter at lower altitudes, the lower plants are dying off, so it marches the coffee forest up the slopes.
— Dean Cycon, owner of Dean’s Beans Coffee Co.

Coffee tree with ripe berriesCoffee, java, morning Joe, black wine, jolt juice, espresso, cappuccino … Whatever the name, coffee is synonymous with the American dream. A cup of coffee has inspired business deals, exam preparation, student all-nighters, real estate transactions, truck-driving, dating, and diplomacy. It represents a daily ritual for millions of Americans and billions of people worldwide. Imagine a world without coffee.

Recently in Ethiopia, engaged in research on forest conservation and mentoring women in science, I visited the town of Jimma, birthplace of coffee. The locals explain that many hundreds of years ago, shepherds observed their goats getting frisky after munching on green berries. In need of some extra energy to endure the rigors of goat-herding…

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