The future of the coffee plant could be at risk. Thousands of hectares of arabica have already died in Ethiopia because of drought caused by climate change, an issue that is affecting coffee harvests worldwide. But it’s not time to kick the caffeine habit just yet. Returning for a fourth series, Inside the Factory (BBC2, 17 July, 8pm) revealed that researchers at Kew Gardens are delving into their archives of old coffee plant specimens to find more resilient species.
There’s no sign of a shortage at Nescafé yet. Stretching across half a mile, its factory in Derbyshire produces 175,000 jars of instant coffee every day. Presenter Gregg Wallace followed the creation of its Nescafé Gold - from the delivery of Brazilian green coffee beans to the site, to sending out jars to the supermarkets. It’s a 13 and a half-hour process in all, during which the beans are roasted, ground, frozen and dried.
Grinding releases that delicious aroma, which is removed when nitrogen gas is pumped through and only added back after drying.
For those considering going cold turkey on caffeine, Cherry Healey took the plunge, going coffee-free. After five days, she was no longer full of beans, feeling less alert and suffering from withdrawal headaches. Her sleep improved though and by the end she was considering cutting back on the habit long term. But with 55 million cups of coffee still consumed daily in the UK, many of us are still unwilling to part with our morning caffeine hit, putting the pressure firmly on researchers at Kew Gardens to find those magic beans.