New Native Coffee Plant Found in Australia

April 25, 2011

There’s a lot of excitement down Australia way as Aussies have discovered a native coffee bean growing in its northernmost point, near Cape York, Queensland. Not that far from Papua New Guinea, a great coffee habitat, the area is in rugged wilderness. Researchers are planning to collect samples next month so they can find out more about the plants, which seem to be a mystery to ethno-botanists in the large continent-nation which spans three lines of latitude in the Tropic of Capricorn. The first and only native species of coffee found growing in Australia’s wilds, the new species has been identified and named Coffea brassii. No one knows how the coffee arrived in North Australia nor if the Aborigines ever used it. As far as they know, it hasn’t been roasted and brewed as yet. Coffee isn’t rare on Australia. There are plantations in the region nearby, but this strain apparently didn’t originate from one of these. Australian coffee farmers have had challenges in reaching a profitable level with their coffees, as labor costs tend to be high, suitable water isn’t always available, and the distance from buyers is great. But because Aussies’ demand for coffee is well above the nation’s supply, most of their coffee is imported. One advantage Australia possesses in regard to coffee habitat is the lack of pests and therefore the ability to focus on organic. If this newly discovered species can be cultivated in its native area, if the arable land exists in Queensland, this discovery might be just what the coffee drinkers of the huge island nation need to help satisfy demand. Of course, the way agriculture works these days, the best products are exported and cheaper products are imported, so that the trade balance is improved and farmers and marketers make bigger profits. It will be interesting to watch what happens to the newly discovered species in the next several months, as researchers put it through its paces, and flavors and quality are determined. With the world demand for coffee increasing so rapidly, it’s always exciting to find new areas for potential growth of supply. While ROASTe doesn’t have Australian coffees to try, due to the above-mentioned problems, we do have some great organic coffees from the continent’s closest neighbor.



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