Research Summary

Coffea arabica

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil, and economically an important commodity in most tropical and sub-tropical countries. Among the non-alcoholic beverages, it is one of the widely consumed.

The two species most widely cultivated are: Coffea arabica, which is known to have better quality and more complex flavour profile; and C. robusta, which is mostly used in the production of instant coffee.

All Australian-grown coffee is from varieties of C. arabica, which is produced in the subtropical region of coastal northern New South Wales hinterland, south east Queensland and far north Queensland. Australia has the potential to produce a distinctive and high quality coffee suitable for the espresso and specialty coffee market but there is a shortfall in the supply, volume-wise and quality-wise. A premium is paid for high quality coffee and thus, the coffee industry will be better placed if they deliver a consistent supply of high quality product to the market.

This project, funded by AgriFutures Australia, will help the Australian coffee industry in achieving its goal to produce consistently high quality and distinctive tasting coffee by:

  • Identifying any distinguishing chemical profile of the Australian coffee that can be associated with cupping quality that will provide the Australian coffee industry with well defined parameters to identify any significant distinctive characteristics present in Australian coffee
  • Providing a definitive measurement of the levels of caffeine that exists in the analysed samples of coffee green bean, which will confirm present understandings that Australian coffee has a lower level of caffeine than coffees grown elsewhere
  • Correlating the results of the chemical analysis with traditional subjective methods (cupping) of assessing quality and identifying chemical components of the coffee that can be used as marker compounds

Current research interests include:

  • Caffeine analysis of Australian-grown coffee beans to compare with imported coffee beans
  • Identifying phytochemical diversity of Australian-grown coffee beans
  • Determining chemical changes in the coffee bean at different stages of maturity
  • Correlating cupping quality to metabolites in green coffee beans


Professor Graham King