How tasty was your cup of coffee this morning? And, does your flavor preference match other people? And has coffee bean quality maintained a high standard? Though coffee is grown in areas much warmer than the much colder Montana, a recent study co-authored by Montana State University researchers shows a direct effect between those southern crops and our changing climate. Of course, many of us in the Pacific Northwest are dependent on a morning shot of java, and it's got to taste good. In fact, annual "Best of" coffee cities in the U.S. consistently put Portland, Ore. and Seattle, Wash. at the top of the list.

MSU partnered with Tufts University and the Specialty Coffee Association for a recently published paper in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science. The study showed how the changing environment is affecting such things as crop yield and coffee bean quality. The paper has a long name - "Climate Change and Coffee Quality: Systematic Review on the Effects of Environmental and Management Variation on Secondary Metabolites and Sensory Attributes of Coffea arabica and Coffea canephor."

In a news release from Anne Cantrell of the MSU News Service, Sara Binkley, co-author of the study, said that increased altitude of where coffee is grown is good for quality, but an increased amount of light does the opposite. By looking at a large number of studies published in the last 20 years, the team also looked at the effects of water stress, temperature, carbon dioxide in the air and nutrients in the soil.

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Dr. Selena Ahmed of the MSU Department of Health and Human Development said the study goes beyond crop yields and looked at what enhances flavor and nutritional values, saying, "This is important to study for all food and beverages, not just for coffee. By understanding and managing the biochemical composition of crops along with other attributes of sustainability, we can better support the food system to be resilient to disruptions."

Alison Harmon, Dean of the MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development, said the study was pioneering. "Dr. Ahmed and the team's findings support optimizing of coffee production and the findings can be relevant to other crops important for local economies and communities." You can find more information at the MSU news site.

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