London - Caffeine addicts of the future may need to find a new pick-me-up because scientists fear that wild coffee plants could become extinct within 70 years.

Coffee arabica plants that account for 70 percent of world coffee consumption are found in only a few African mountain forests, but these precarious habitats face being wiped out by climate changes, according to researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

The majority of wild arabica forests are in South Sudan and Ethiopia. Commercial coffee plantations around the world are cultivated from these wild plants, but the crops are particularly vulnerable to infection and environmental changes.

Until now, producers have been able to replenish their stock from healthy wild plants, but these are now coming under threat from climate changes.

Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, said: “The worst-case scenario is that arabica coffee ceases to exist in the wild in 70 years.”

Tadesse Woldemariam Gole, from the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum in Ethiopia, added: “It is essential that the reserves established to conserve arabica’s genetic resources are funded and carefully managed.” - Daily Mail