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Global warming puts Wild Arabica coffee plants at risk

Arabica coffee beans may be hard to come by.

Crucial stock of genetic diversity could be lost to climate change

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Coffee drinkers shouldn’t their favorite beverage for granted, according to researchers with London’s Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Global warming could lead to the extinction of wild Arabica coffee plants well before the end of the century.

The study shows that climate change will cut Arabica habitat between 65 and 99 percent, even without factoring in the large-scale deforestation that has occurred in the highland forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan (the natural home of Arabica coffee).

The scientists also identified core habitat areas that could be used as preserves to try and maintain a population of Arabica coffee plants.

Wild Arabica is important to the entire coffee industry as a stock of genetic diversity. The plants are very sensitive to temperature and moisture in very localized microclimates, and coffee harvests have already suffered in recent years, with coffee prices soaring to their highest level in 30 years.

The Arabicas grown in the world’s coffee plantations are from very limited genetic stock and are unlikely to have the flexibility required to cope with climate change and other threats, such as pests and diseases. Continue reading

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Travel: Coffee and rain at the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh

The Festival Fringe in Edinburgh comes to life with a cast of colorful characters roaming the street. PHOTO BY GARRETT PALM.

“A stone city clinging to rock surrounded by green on the edge of the island …”

Garrett Palm reports from the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh

“It’s summer. It’s warm out,” our guitarist said when a member of the production team asked him about the cold and rain. While we hand out flyers for our show at the Festival Fringe during the day the Americans wear jackets and some of the Scottish wear t-shirts. The temperature has been in the 50s and 60s, with a dip down to 48.

Everything is wet. We recently survived 36 straight hours of rain. The Foodies festival was delayed due to muddy conditions. It takes a lot of rain to affect the plans of the Scottish. I love how the city looks in the rain, but it makes our jobs difficult. Our flyers warp and go limp and people are less inclined to stop and listen to us. It makes daily life difficult, too: dishtowels at the flat don’t dry off, the skylight leaks and all my clothes are damp.

Even in the height of the international festival, Edinburgh feels a part of the British Isles. It is a stone city clinging to rock surrounded by green on the edge of the island. The rain and wind come right off the channel. Our cast is staying a block past World’s End Close, a tight alleyway, where the old city, and thus the world, used to end.

Rain or no rain, it's thumbs-up at the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh. PHOTO BY GARRETT PALM.

Continue reading

Travel: The history of croissants

East and west intersect in the Balkans

A classic combo.

Coffee, espresso and cappuccinos are done well all around the Mediterranean and the Balkans, sit was no surprise to get this delicious combo in a spiffy coffee shop in the middle of the slightly seedy harbor district in Vlore.

Not seedy as in dangerous – in fact all of Albania felt as safe as could be – but seedy in the sense of scamming taxi drivers and vendors selling tickets for phantom boats at inflated prices. Our slight brush with this came as we carried our backpacks toward customs. A guy in an official-looking bright orange vest steered toward the maze and then gestured to us that we should put our packs down on a bench while the border guards examined our passports. He seemed to be suggesting that he would guard them for us while we dealt with the formalities, kind of like those guys on some tropical beaches who offer to watch your stuff while you swim, with the implication that they’ll steal it if you don’t hire them. Our man in Albania wanted a couple of Euro for his troubles. Continue reading

Travel: Espresso dreams & legendary croissants

A tasty combo in a harbor in Vlore, Albania

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — I’ve been drinking way too much coffee lately, just one of the perils of running a full-time one-man journalism/blogging shop. Plus I have enablers — loving relatives — who keep sending stashes of primo French dark roasts.

But instead of fighting it, I’ve decided to go with the flow. This is how I like my coffee:

Nero, come la notte; caldo, come l’inferno; forte, come Il diavolo, et dolce, come l’amore. Continue reading

Something new: Try an Φραπ (Nescafé frappé) this summer

A glass of Φραπέ (Nescafé frappé) on a table at a cafe overlooking the bay of Corfu and the Venetian castle.

A cool, refreshing summer drink that will save you some money

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — These past few hot days (at least until the monsoons kicked in) we here at Summit Voice headquarters have been cooling off with Φραπέ, our favorite summer drink.

And in case you can’t read the Cyrillic alphabet, that would be a Nescafé frappé, a chillin’ ice coffee drink you can make at home for just pennies per glass. It’s way better than your average half-decaf, caramel, vanilla-bean Frappuccino, and best of all, as you sip it, you can imagine you’re in a street cafe in Athens, watching the world go by.

We discovered this drink last September by watching what the locals were ordering at cafes in Corfu. We had no idea what it was, but it looked good; tall, frothy and cool, so we pointed to a nearby table and told the waiter, “One of those, please.” Continue reading

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