‘Naturally Decaffeinated’ Coffee Plant Study Enters Decisive Stage in BrazilDaily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

Daily Coffee News file photo by Nick Brown.

Researchers in Brazil are entering a decisive stage in a decades-long study designed to produce coffee plants with seeds that have little to no caffeine.

In an announcement last week, the state government of São Paolo said the results of the research could transform the commercialization of decaffeinated coffee in leading markets such as the United States and Europe. Decaffeination is currently achieved through industrial processes, including water-based processes — as with Swiss Water Decaf — and processes involving chemical solvents.

The Brazilian research is being carried out by the Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC), which has been hugely influential in the world of coffee agronomy since its inception 135 years ago. According to the IAC, approximately 90% of the coffee plants in Brazil, and 70% of coffee plants globally, can be traced back to IAC development.

Researchers at the IAC have been pursuing low- to no-caffeine coffee plant development for more than 20 years.

The agency is currently planting hybrid cultivars, from crosses of different coffee plants, that it believes may produce coffee that is naturally low in caffeine. The results of the current trials will not be known for at least two to three years, which is the time required for new coffee plants to produce fruit and the all-important seed encased within.

Once fruit is born, the research agency will begin to assess whether certain cultivars may be able to be produced at a commercial scale, according to the state government. The trials are taking place at various locations throughout Brazil, the world’s largest coffee-producing country by volume.

According to a recent report from the firm Market Research Future (MRFR), the global decaffeinated coffee market is expected to be worth approximately US$26.2 billion by 2027, following compound annual growth of 4.45%.

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