There is almost nothing known about the effects of important variables like geography, soil, variety, and climate on the cup quality of C. arabica coffee, despite a global value of the coffee industry (~$250 billion worldwide) and the explosive growth of the specialty coffee market, which seeks to provide ‘differentiated and compelling’ coffee experiences to millions of consumers the world round. Studies to date have focused on single countries, single farms, and few quality attributes. Indeed, until 2016, the coffee sector did not even have the basic necessary sensory science tools to analyze and evaluate coffee sensory attributes in a repeatable, accurate and statistically discriminatory manner.
In order to fill this enormous gap, WCR is partnering with UC Davis, the Specialty Coffee Association, and the Coffee Science Foundation to execute the biggest and most comprehensive sensory and chemical evaluation of coffee varieties across multiple environments in history.
In 2015, World Coffee Research began its International Multilocation Variety Trial, a one of a kind, global network of farms, each planted with genetically identical coffee varieties. Now, these plants have matured and are ready for sensory, chemical, and quality analysis. Working collaboratively, scientists across multiple disciplines will analyze 12 varieties growing in 16 sites across 12 different countries. The project will result in a database of varieties, environments, flavors and chemistry that allow researchers to begin to decode the mysteries of coffee flavor— the link between genetics, environment, and coffee’s sensory attributes.
Using sensory descriptive analysis, chemical analysis, and expert testing, this research consortium will produce scientifically rigorous data to:
Because there are the exact same varieties being grown in so many diverse locations, the effects of geography, soil, climate, and agronomic variables on quality attributes of coffee will be discovered and used to drive quality improvements to benefit the farmer and the consumer. Specific expected outcomes include: