International Multilocation Variety Trial

A first-of-its kind undertaking to facilitate global research on the world’s highest quality coffee varieties.

The problem

Coffee farmers typically have very few choices about which varieties are available for them to plant. Their choices are limited by forces beyond their control—historical accident and colonial history on the one hand, and whether their country has a tradition of coffee research and development on the other. These constraints mean that coffee producers often plant seeds that are susceptible to disease or don’t perform optimally in their area, leaving them doubly vulnerable. Until now no comprehensive effort had ever been made to locate the best-quality coffee varieties from around the globe and study their performance in different countries, including evaluation of possible release of varieties in new countries.


Eleven contributors (countries in light green) supplied varieties for the trial. All varieties are shipped to participating countries (countries in dark green) to be grown and evaluated in research plots.

The solution

31 varieties from around the world. 29 test plots in 18 countries. 50,000 plantlets.

World Coffee Research has gathered 31 top-performing coffee varieties from 11 suppliers around the world. The varieties—most of which have never been tested on a broad basis—are distributed to coffee growing countries for long-term evaluation on research plots.

The IMLVT generates critical knowledge for coffee producers and agronomists about how varieties respond to different soil and climatic conditions – including extreme environments with high temperatures and long dry periods, which mimic the changing climate coffee growers are seeing in coffee-producing countries around the world. The trial will allow researchers to see how varieties perform under climates predicted for 30 and 50 years into the future and provides the largest global dataset ever created for deciphering genotype x environment interaction in coffee. A follow-on study will investigate the impact of the GxE interaction on cup quality and chemistry.

Researchers will identify key traits that have allowed different varieties to adapt to different environmental conditions, which will lay the groundwork for major advances in coffee breeding, climate adaptation strategies, and future research.

The trial also builds essential capacity within producing countries to conduct coffee research and monitor disease movement and climate trends. All participating countries agree to install, maintain, and monitor the plots (on average 1-3 per country). On each plot, a comprehensive list of variables is measured using standardized protocols developed by WCR. Each country monitors how the different varieties perform under local conditions. Countries can monitor the best-performing varieties and, in some cases, negotiate for access to multiply and distribute them producers to increase supplies of quality coffee for those countries.


International Multilocation Variety Trial: How It Works

A summary of our largest trial to date


Never before have most countries had access to so many different varieties. Farmers around the world—as well as coffee producing countries and the industry as a whole— will benefit from access to new varieties with better productivity, disease tolerance and/or cup quality. This will result in widespread production and quality increases, contributing to more sustainable farmer livelihoods and a stronger coffee sector.

“WCR has now matured a unique network to gather global data on varieties and performance in such a huge number of different environments. It has never been done in the centuries of the existence of the coffee market. This legacy will last forever.” —Giacomo Celi, Director of Sustainability, Mercon
Video: What is the International Multilocation Variety Trial (IMLVT)?

Learn more about the program as explained by Dr. Tania Humphrey, Director of Research & Development by watching the video here or to the right.

International Multilocation Variety Trial

Our Partners

Below are the partners and countries currently participating in the International Multilocation Variety Trial.

North America

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Coffee roasters (PRCR)

Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters, LLC (PRCR) producers 11 recognized coffee brands. PRCR's facilities are located across the island. Coffee farmers are located in the northern town of Vega Baja, in the rainforest weather of Maricao, and in the island's highest mountain range in Jauyuya.

Latin America


ECOM Trading

ECOM Agroindustrial is a global commodity trading and processing company based in Switzerland. The company specializes mainly in coffee, cocoa, and cotton. ECOM has more than 40 offices located in over 35 countries all around the world. It is the largest coffee miller in the world.



Southern Cross University

Southern Cross University is an Australian public university, with campuses at Lismore and Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales, and at Coolangatta, the most southern suburb of the Gold Coast in Queensland.



Central Coffee Research Institute (CCRI)

CCRI, established in 1925, is the research and extension arm of the Coffee Board of India. CCRI is located in the heart of Karnataka, India’s most important coffee region.

North America

United States

USDA Agricultural Research Service

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Their mission is to deliver scientific solutions to national and global agricultural challenges, from field to table.



Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute (ICCRI)

ICCRI was established in 1911 and has played an active role in the research and development of coffee and cocoa in Indonesia for more than a century. In 2013, the national Ministry of Research and Technology declared ICCRI a Center of Excellence (CoE) for coffee.



Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)

KALRO conducts research to catalyze sustainable growth and development in Kenya’s agriculture sector. Kenya has one of the longest histories of formal coffee research in the world, commencing in 1908.



Olam Group

Olam International is a major food and agri-business company, operating in 60 countries and supplying food and industrial raw materials to over 20,900 customers worldwide. Its value chain includes farming, origination, processing, and distribution operations.



Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS)

DARS has been generating agricultural technologies to address the challenges that hinder progress in agricultural productivity, food, and income security. DARS is the driving force in the development and dissemination of agricultural technologies in Malawi.

Latin America



CENFROCAFE was founded in 1999 with 220 small-scale coffee farmers in eleven community-based associations. Nearly fifteen years after its founding, CENFROCAFE, now based out of Jaen, serves more than 2,000 farmer members in local associations spanning across twelve districts within the lush Cajamarca region.


Democratic Republic of Congo

National Agricultural Study and Research Institute (INERA)

The mandate of the National Agricultural Study and Research Institute (INERA) is to carry out agriculture and forestry research throughout the national territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).



Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB)

RAB develops agriculture and animal resources through research, agricultural extension, and animal resources extension in order to increase agricultural and animal resources productivity and quality, as well as their derived products.



National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI)

NaCORI conducts and manages basic and applied research for coffee in support of national goals to increase the value of coffee exports. NaCORI is one of 16 public agricultural research institutes of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), and has been named a Center of Robusta Excellence.



Department of Research and Specialist Services, Coffee Research Institute

The DR&SS was established in 1948, and has since been consolidated into the following three divisions: the Division of Crops Research (with 6 institutes); The Division of Livestock and Pastures Research (with 4 institutes); and The Division of Research Services (with 7 institutes). Their mission is provide research-based technologies, knowledge and information to facilitate a sustainable and viable agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.

Program Updates