Science Will Save Your Coffee

At the expense of genetic modification

Sep 5, 2014
Outside Magazine

No two lattes are alike.    Easy_Company/Thinkstock

A group of scientists has sequenced the DNA of coffee plants, creating the possibility of genetically engineered java and answering questions about the origins of caffeine.

The study, published Thursday in Science, offered the first complete genetic map of the coffee plant. In a report by the Washington Post, Victor Albert, lead author of the study and a professor of biological sciences at the University at Buffalo, noted that the findings could lead to the ability to modify coffee crops so they are more resilient to pests and climate change. It might also be possible to grow plants with caffeine-free beans. 

"So to make decaf coffee, you wouldn't have to go through the process of extracting the caffeine," Albert said. "You could just grow coffee beans that don't make it at all." 

Researchers also found that the caffeine in coffee is completely unrelated to the caffeine found in chocolate or tea. In fact, it's a genetic oddity. "It's an accident that has been frozen in place very likely by the influence of natural selection," Albert told Fox News.