The use of human DNA information has revealed secrets that were hidden away. Children have found the parents that they thought were theirs, really aren’t. Donor babies have found that they have hundreds of half-siblings. Racists have found that they aren’t as pure as they thought. Families have split up and families have been brought together.
Just like human DNA testing we now have affordable plant DNA testing. Secrets about plants and their origins are being revealed. In coffee, World Coffee Research is offering DNA analysis of coffee trees. The results have been a reorganization of coffee tree varieties and origins.
When we planted our upper farm we obtained as many samples of different coffee varieties as we could. We then cupped the samples to find the best coffees to plant. One of the samples we cupped came from a local nursery. We were told that the coffee was a locally created hybrid called “Purple Passion.” We asked what varieties were in the hybrid but were told that it was a trade secret. We liked the coffee so we bought the trees. Those trees today produce our IO coffees. DNA analysis of the trees shows that they are not a locally created hybrid but instead a variety developed in Kenya called K7. So there goes another secret. We don’t have any regrets, our IO is a marvelous coffee and we would have bought it regardless of the name.
Another one of the things we did to find trees for our upper farm was to pick coffee beans at the research station in Honolulu. We picked one tree and were told that it was a Kenya variety called SL28. We planted those beans and they have become one of our top award winning coffees. In fact, we have a list of prepaid orders waiting for the next harvest. DNA analysis shows that the beans are not SL28, they are another Kenya variety SL34. It was an honest mistake since the trees were not marked and SL28 and SL34 trees are nearly indistinguishable. So what was once Laura’s Reserve SL28 is now Laura’s Reserve SL34. Same beans with a correct DNA name.
Maybe Shakespeare knew about plant DNA when he wrote “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”