Caffeine Buzz Kill
Wild tigers, orangutans, and other megafauna in Sumatra, Indonesia, are being pushed out of their native habitat as lowland forests are clear-cut to make room for coffee plantations. The cheap robusta beans grown in this region end up in instant coffee. From 1996 to 2001, land cleared for coffee production in the Lampung region of Sumatra jumped by 28 percent, according to a new study published in the journal Science. Local populations of tigers, elephants, and rhinos are now in decline due to the loss of forestland. “If we do not act soon, our next cup of java may have the bitter taste of extinction,” said Tim O’Brien, who headed the research team. One partial solution could be switching to higher quality arabica coffee beans, which grow best in the shade and can thrive amidst indigenous trees and shrubs.