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Queensland scientists look to perfect Aussie coffee

Scientists from the University of Queensland’s, QAAFI (Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation) are teaming up with the state government and local growers to fast track the development of premium export coffee.

QAAFI’s Professor Robert Henry is the chief executive on a new Australian Research Council (ARC) funded linkage project which is designed to better understand what makes good coffee.

By applying biochemical and molecular tools, Professor Henry is aiming to develop improved crop varieties and improve food and energy security.

The program which will take place over four years has received $400,000 in funding from the ARC, and aims to identify the chemical and genetic components of premium coffee.

Professor Henry believes that the project will allow for the selection of superior coffee varieties coupled with the development of appropriate processing techniques to create high quality coffee which satisfies consumer preferences.

“It’s a project which is expected to boost the local coffee industry with a growing reputation for quality," he said.

“In addition, it’s hoped that global application of the technology may bring further economic benefits to Australia.”

The project will bring together Byron-Bay based coffee growers/processors, Green Cauldron and the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

QAAFI flavour scientist, Dr Heather Smyth will also be contributing to the project through her experience in understanding the compositional basis of the sensory experience, and consumer acceptability of foods.

“This project will be the first of its kind to try to understand the genetic and molecular basis of consumer-preferred sensory characteristics in coffee,” Dr Smyth said.

“There is a rapidly growing consumer demand for single-origin coffee and coffee with specific flavour types.

“Our consumer-driven approach will involve first understanding which consumers like different flavours of coffees from around the world.

“We will then determine which components make up the desirable ‘chocolaty’, ‘vanilla’ or ‘fruity’ flavours in coffee, and ultimately determine the genes and processes that are involved in the liberation of those flavours.

“With the results of this research, coffee producers in Australia will be better placed to produce high quality Australian coffee flavours to meet and exceed consumer expectations.”

 

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