Standart Magazine

Illustrations for Standart Magazine, an international magazine about the world of specialty coffee. Article by Hanna Neuschwander.

One hot night on a hotel patio in El Salvador

The day’s marathon of meetings was over and it was already dark outside. I had just ordered a cold Pilsener from the hotel bar and was headed out to the patio to find my colleagues, the renowned coffee breeder Benoit Bertrand and coffee geneticist and World Coffee Research’s Scientific Director Christophe Montagnon. When I finally spotted them, they were hunched over a laptop, their faces lit by its glowing screen, talking excitedly in French. Dr. Montagnon was pointing to a particular spot on the screen, which showed a huge spreadsheet arrayed in colored patterns. Dr. Bertrand leaned in, nodded his head with a goofy-excited-kid smile, and then sat back in his chair and took a long, satisfied glug of beer.’

Standart Magazine

Coffee plant Nursery

‘… And in fact, this is exactly the promise of modern “molecular breeding.” The approach allows breeders to use genetic information to predict what a plant or cross will do. Molecular breeding allows breeders to make predications based on DNA profiles of plants, using molecular markers associated with a trait, such as fruit shape, rather having to wait to observe the trait itself. It’s the difference between being able to take a DNA sample from a baby plant in a nursery at 6 weeks versus waiting three or more years to see if the trait emerges. In short, it’s a way to do what old-fash - ioned breeders did, but much more rapidly, “observing” through genetic screening instead of by looking at the physical plant. ‘