Fermentation of coffee beans with common brewing/winemaking yeast strains for novel flavor properties

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Fermentation is a critical step in the production of coffee when following standard wet processing. Wet processing is one of the most common methods used to remove the mucilage layer from coffee cherries. During this step, the de-pulped coffee cherries undergo a fermentation with native yeast that modifies the aroma and flavor profile of the resultant coffee. This study aimed to ferment green coffee beans using commercial yeast strains used to produce specific flavor properties in beer and wine making, and subsequently evaluate the aroma and flavor of the coffee with human sensory panelists. Five Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains were used: Belgian Ale, Toluraspora delbrueckii, Sourvisiae, 71 B, and Tropical IPA, alonside one non-inoculated control sample. The green coffee beans underwent a controlled wet fermentation for 72 hours. Results showed that flavor profiles varied broadly by yeast strain, suggesting that producing novel flavors in coffee through fermentation is possible. However, higher liking scores were still reported for the control sample compared to the fermented samples. Toluraspora Delbrueckii resulted in coffee with highly fruity notes, and all strains were more floral than the control, while the sample fermented with Sourvisiae yeast common in the brewing of sour ales resulted in coffee that was both perceived as sour and had the lowest pH, likely due to the degree of lactic acid this strain is designed to produce. Further, there were significant color differences between the samples. In conclusion, fermenting green coffee beans with brewing and winemaking yeast strains strongly impacted the flavor and aroma of the resultant coffee, however optimizing the strains selected for fermentation may yield flavor profiles more suitable for coffee.

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