Dr. Aaron Davis has quickly become one of the most compelling coffee figures in the world. Davis is a botanist, and for over a decade he’s worked in the field, seeking out and describing coffee species in East Africa and Madagascar. He’s responsible for the discovery of 20 new coffee species, previously unknown to science. More recently, he’s become famous for his work on the impact of climate change on wild Coffea arabica, predicting its possible extinction: a finding that triggered a frenzy of media attention this year.
In this compelling talk, Dr. Davis leads us on an exploration of the Coffea genus, learning about the amazing diversity of coffee in the wild. We discover the smallest coffee species, and the largest; coffee with winged fruit and black tentacled fruit and brainlike beans. Davis introduces us to the parents of arabica coffee, and how the birthplace of coffee might not be in Ethiopia after all. He describes the amazing genetic diversity of arabica coffee in modern Ethiopia, and the chilling lack of diversity everywhere else. And finally, he looks into the future of the species, allowing us to glimpse coffee’s ultimate fate.
It’s a gripping ride. One Symposium delegate said, “I never thought I would be on the edge of my seat during a genetics lecture!” Dr. Davis is engaging and clear, giving us a brilliant introduction to the origins and future of coffee.