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Coffee varieties of mesoamerica and the caribbean

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International Multilocation Variety Trial

A first-of-its kind undertaking to facilitate the global exchange of the world’s highest quality coffee varieties.
Embryos from vitroplants

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 make them available to producers in different countries.

IMLVT sources

Eleven contributors supplied varieties for the trial. Each "basket" of 31 varieties is being shipped to participating countries to be grown in research plots.

The solution

31 varieties from around the world. 28 test plots in 16 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 helps countries overcome historical and institutional barriers to accessing the world’s best existing planting material. It 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. The best-performing varieties can then be selected, multiplied and distributed to producers to increase supplies of quality coffee for those countries.


Never before has a global variety exchange taken place on this scale in the coffee industry. 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 in as little as 5 years, and 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 

Here's how it works

IMLVT one page

Project Updates

  • The coming climate

    Date: 9.18.19
    zambia imlvt

    Which varieties are deeply affected by small changes in climate—for example, hotter, drier temperatures—and which have stable performance across a wide range of climates? How does climate impact yields, disease tolerance, or cup quality? Shockingly, there is almost nothing known about the effects of environment on coffee tree performance.

    Read the Whole Story
  • Coming along in Kenya

    Date: 8.21.19
    kenya imlvt

    Kenya was one of the first countries to be included in the International Multilocation Variety Trial.

    Read the Whole Story
  • IMLVT's first harvests

    Date: 2.11.19

    When World Coffee Research (WCR) formed in 2012, one of the first initiatives the organization launched was the International Multilocation Variety Trial (IMLVT). Each of 24 participating country planted the same 31 varieties. Most of the trial sites were established in 2016, and earlier this month, the first coffee cherries began to arrive. Here, photos of the first harvest at one IMLVT site in Guatemala.

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  • Card image

    When World Coffee Research formed in 2012, one of the first initiatives the organization launched was the International Multilocation Variety Trial (IMLVT), the world’s largest coffee variety performance trial and seed exchange. The IMLVT brought 31 top varieties of Arabica coffee to 23 countries around the world for rigorous testing and evaluation to see how different varieties perform in different environments. Earlier this year—about two years after the trial officially launched in 2016—14 of the 23 participating countries collected the trial's first data.

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  • IMLVT Guatemala

    Four new countries have committed to participate in the International Multilocation Variety Trial (IMLVT), the largest, collaborative, global coffee research platform and variety exchange in history. Australia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and the United States (Hawaii) will all join the trial in 2017, bringing the total number of participating countries to 23.

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  • Location: Australia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Peru, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Leaders: Solene Pruvot
  • Partners: CCRI (India), CRI (Kenya), DARS (Malawi), ECOM (Nicaragua), ICAFE (Costa Rica), ICCRI (Indonesia), IHCAFE (Honduras), INDOCAFE (Dom Rep), INECOL (Mexico), INERA (DR Congo), JACRA (Jamaica), OLAM (Laos, Zambia, Brazil), SCU (Australia), UFLA (Brazil) &...
  • Timeline: 2013-present