Polar Bears and Coffee?
Our roaring propellor plane landed softly in the white semi-frozen landscape of Churchill, Canada. I was about to start an epic journey with Dan Bolton (Stir Coffee Magazine) and John Horning (Incasa Coffee) to the sub-arctic terrain of the Hudson Bay, in the far north of Canada. My GPS showed 59 degrees latitude, at least 50 degrees north of my farm La Mula in Panama.
An hour later we drove through the deserted landscape of the tundra close to the bay. Far away we noticed a polar bear trotting slowly and precariously through the deserted area. Every year, thousands of polar bear gather not too far from the town of Churchill to prepare their migration north across the solid frozen ice of the Hudson Bay which measures more than 500 miles in diameter. Prior to their migration, the polar bear agree on a silent, unwritten peace treaty not to attack each other while the ice bridges are settling, allowing for a safe journey to the cold north.
Now our vehicle slowly approached the impressive bear, less than 20 feet separated us from the animal. Our guide explained the impressive features of this fully grown male bear; with 1200 to 1300 lbs and razor sharp claws, he should be considered as the largest and most dangerous land based predator. Despite this uncanny information, I almost felt the urge to reach out and cuddle the beautiful beast. This majestic specie might be extinct by the year 2050 if the onslaught of global warming continues.
I couldn’t resist reflecting on a parallel with coffee. Arabica as a specie might be extinct caused by the same phenomenon and also due to the limited genetic diversity of cultivated arabica strains. Take for example the recent plague of coffee rust which has been devastating coffee farmers across Latin America. Ongoing efforts to enrich the family of Arabica types with other genotypes are essential to save Arabica as a specie. Our journey continued across the tundra. My coffee mug with meticulously brewed La Mula felt soothing and warm. While I savored the floral jasmin aftertaste, we observed a mother bear and cub playing like sumo wrestlers. I sincerely hope that we can preserve these beautiful gems of our precious planet for many more generations after us!