Something About Origin Of Coffee

Something About Origin Of Coffee

Do you have a favorite coffee region? Brazil, Kenya, Ethiopia? Why do we care which country our coffee comes from? The most important reason for this is that even the same variety of coffee has different chemical compositions depending on where it is grown. These differences in chemical composition not only affect the flavor but also help us identify distinct flavor characteristics.

This article provides an understanding of how origin affects the chemical composition of coffee and how origin affects the traceable nature of raw beans.

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Relationship Between Origin And Chemical Composition

There are many factors that influence the chemical composition of coffee, and producers control a large number of these variables, including the variety grown, when the coffee is harvested, and how the coffee is treated. Producers can also choose the environment in which the coffee is grown, including the amount of fertilizer applied and the effectiveness of the shade tree. Combined with the above factors and the special conditions of the natural environment in each producing area, each coffee has its own unique flavor.

Coffee flavors have long been defined into special categories based on their origin, with fruit flavors and high acidity often associated with African coffee, and chunky flavors with Central American coffee. The flavor is the result of the unique chemical composition of a coffee, so we can conclude that coffee from the same region, because of their similar chemical properties, also form the special "regional flavor" of that region.

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But where are these chemical differences? Can we infer the origin of the coffee by analyzing its chemical composition?

Analyze Chemical Properties To Identify Coffee

Scientists have found chemical signatures that can identify coffee from Colombia using an MRI technique, and have used the same technique to identify Robusta coffee from formula beans. This can be used when the cheaper robusta is suspected to have been mixed with Arabica formula beans.

The researchers also looked at phenolic and methyl xanthine compounds to identify coffee. These compounds are found in all coffee.

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Methylxanthines include caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. Phenolic compounds include organic acids and chlorogenic acids, such as quinic acid and caffeic acid. Phenolic compounds are responsible for most of the aroma and flavor in coffee.

These two groups of compounds have been shown to be very sensitive to changes in the environment in which the coffee plant is grown, and it has been suggested that these compounds have something to do with how the coffee plant ADAPTS to the environment in which it is grown.

The researchers, from the European Commission for Health and Consumer Protection, used an analysis of methylxanthine and phenolic compounds to classify coffee by continent of origin with at least 90 percent accuracy. While impressive, being able to identify just which continent coffee comes from is still too broad to be practical.

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Specific Chemical Differences Between Countries Of Origin

Sci-Fi Foods is committed to developing chemical differences related to coffee provenance in countries or regions and has observed large variations in the amount of caffeine and phenolic compounds in different coffees. For example, coffees from El Salvador and Venezuela contain extremely low levels of caffeine and coffee quinic acid, while coffee from Kenya is known for its high levels of coffee quinic acid. The firm's research also showed significant and characteristic differences in trigonelline and acetic acid levels in South and Central American coffee.

The company is working to find more consistent regional variations in coffee chemistry, with the goal of being able to identify regions by the concentration of key molecules. It is hoped that in the near future, it will be possible to predict the origin of unknown samples and distinguish raw coffee beans according to their origin.

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Understanding chemical differences and their impact on flavor characteristics may help maintain, or even enhance, the specific characteristics of each region. If we can better understand what factors give each region its unique flavor, we can try new ways to enhance or tweak flavor characteristics.

Why is the relationship between chemical characteristics and appellation important?

Understanding how chemical properties relate to the flavor of raw and cooked beans is important for baked beans cooks, raw bean buyers, and consumers. It can tell us what type of beans we are buying, and if we know that the bean is high in a certain compound and produces the flavor we like, it may be a more accurate way to figure out what beans we like than just relying on our subjective perception of the flavor. A better understanding of chemistry could also help us develop baking and brewing methods.

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The relationship between chemistry and origin may have a similar effect, enabling producers to select the varieties best suited to their estate or farm and to influence flavour characteristics through agricultural choices. For example, if they know that an environmental condition produces a chemical associated with the desired flavor, they can choose to focus on maintaining that environmental condition.

If we can identify the region by its chemical characteristics, we can define coffee as a protected designation of origin. Better identification can also improve transparency and ensure source traceability throughout the supply chain.

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Why is source traceability important? Because there are so many players involved in the traditional coffee supply chain, it's easy to forget where the coffee comes from and what processes it goes through. If we can use chemical analysis to confirm the origin and other factors, we can better trust the supply chain and increase accountability. This, in turn, could improve market access to information and possibly raise the price of quality coffee produced on a small scale.

Chemical analysis may also help to reduce false information about raw beans, such as the discovery that Robusta was mixed with Arabica formula beans.

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Difficulties In Further Chemical Analysis

One of the major problems in fully understanding the relationship between origin and chemistry is that there is little data on the chemistry of raw beans on origin regulations. Understanding the chemistry of the region's coffee requires the analysis of a large number of coffee samples from each major coffee region over several harvest seasons.

That would be a daunting task for any research team or company, given that coffee production is spread across continents and in many countries. To carry out a study of this magnitude requires a collective effort.

More attention has been paid to the relationship between coffee chemistry and flavor. Various institutions, companies, and enthusiasts have created a network to share data and ideas on the subject. The result is systematic data logging, as more teams are told what data is still missing. This should be an example of how researchers want to understand the relationship between coffee's chemical composition and its origin.

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There are many benefits to be gained by better understanding the relationship between the origin and chemistry of raw coffee beans. Increased knowledge can inform the application of agricultural techniques, enabling producers to select the best varieties and better tailor planting and treatment methods to the area.

In addition to better understanding how flavor characteristics are created, chemical analysis can help us improve the transparency and traceability of our supply chain.

If researchers and producers across the industry can work together and track the data on a large scale, there is greater potential for a more complete understanding of coffee as a beverage.

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