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Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations

PS Nigam, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK

A Singh, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article is a revision of the previous edition article by Poonam Nigam, volume 1, pp 466473, 1991, Elsevier Ltd.

Introduction within the latitudes 20 north or south of the equator, in the
tropical regions. The several types or varieties of cocoa usually are
The primary objectives of cocoa and coffee fermentations are classied in to three main groups: Forastero, Trinitario, and
the removal of mucilage from coffee and cocoa beans and the Criollo. Trinitario is considered to be derived from hybrids
development of a number of avor precursors in cocoa. Cocoa between various Forastero and Criollo varieties. Forastero is high
is made from the seeds (beans) of the cacao plant, the fruit of yielding, more pest and diseases resistant, more drought tolerant,
which is a pod containing up to 50 beans covered in white and the most commercially grown variety all over the world. The
mucilage. The mucilage is fermented by yeasts, and then beans, quality of nal cocoa products is the result of the volatile and
which darken during the week-long fermentation, are dried and nonvolatile compounds in the product that depends upon the
roasted. The manufacture of coffee from ripe coffee fruits genotype, agroclimatic conditions, drying, fermentation, and
requires the initial removal of a sticky mucilaginous mesocarp production processes. The avor potential of cocoa is deter-
from around the two beans in each fruit. The outer skin of the mined genetically and depends mainly on the variety. Forastero
fruit is mechanically disrupted, and the whole is left to ferment. types (e.g., Amelonado, Amazon varieties) are bulk cocoas used
The mucilage is degraded by the fruits own enzymes and by for milk chocolates and for cocoa butter and powder production.
microbial extracellular enzymes. After fermentation, the beans They account for 95% of the crop. Criollo (light brown in color)
are washed, dried, blended, and roasted. and Trinitario are ne cocoas; they are used for specialty dark
The popularity of cocoa and coffee is derived from their chocolates because of their particular avor and color
unique and complex avors and possibly also from the presence characteristics.
of caffeine and similar compounds that may have a mild stim-
ulatory effect. The avors are initially developed during pro-
Cacao Fruit
cessing immediately after harvesting. This avor development
involves the action of various enzymes on the polyphenols,
T. cacao bears small owers in small groups on the trunks and lower
proteins, and carbohydrates. Unlike many other fermented
main branches of the trees. Pollinated owers develop into berries
products, it is those endogenous enzymes that are mainly
(pods), maturing over a 56 month period. The berry is a drupe
responsible. In cocoa, the role of microorganisms is limited to
2.54.0 cm by 1.251.75 cm in size, containing 2040 seeds
the removal of the pulp that surrounds the fresh seeds or beans.
(beans) embedded in a mass of mucilaginous pulp (Figure 1).
The microbial activities result in the death of the bean and the
creation of the environment for development of avor precur-
sors. In coffee, their role is limited to the removal of the pulp in
some of the processing methods. During this initial processing,
a number of avor precursors are formed, which in cocoa and
coffee are further modied in Maillard reactions during roasting.
In cocoa, there is also a reduction in bitterness and astringency
caused by the oxidation of polyphenolic compounds.


Cocoa is native to the Amazon region of South America. It is

used in a variety of products, including the following:
l Confectionery milk chocolate morsels or bars, dark
chocolate, white chocolate based on cocoa butter, milk and
sugar, chocolate-coated products with various centers
l Beverages malted milk cocoa drinks, sweetened cocoa
powder-based drinks
l Ice cream and desserts

Nature of the Crop

The cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao, family Sterculiaceae) is a small

tree that grows naturally in the lower story of the evergreen
rainforest in the Amazon basin. Cocoa is commercially grown Figure 1 Section of cacao pod showing beans.

Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology, Volume 1 485

486 Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations

Harvesting Changes Resulting from Fermentation

During the course of fermentation, microbial activity outside
T. cacao normally begins to bear berries after 3 years, and
the cocoa beans induces biochemical and physical changes
the yield reaches a maximum after 8 or 9 years. Generally,
inside the beans. The external appearances of the beans also
cocoa yields two main crops in a year (SeptemberJanuary
change. Initially they are pinkish with a covering of white
and AprilJuly). Trees simultaneously bear owers, devel-
mucilage, but gradually they darken and the mucilage disap-
oping berries and mature fruits. The pods develop on the
pears. This color change is oxidative; when a heap is disarranged,
trunk and branches that ripen in about 56 months after
the beans on the outside are darker than those on the inside. As
fertilization and turn yellow or orange. Harvesting is carried
the beans are mixed, their color becomes a more uniform
out at varying frequencies (14 weeks). Each pod carries
orange-brown and, toward the end of the fermentation, nearly
about 2545 beans embedded in mucilage. The pods are
all of the mucilage has disappeared, leaving the beans slightly
then opened either on the same day or after a few days to
sticky; at this stage, they are ready for drying. Acidic acid,
allow for a sufcient quantity to accumulate for the
produced during fermentation, penetrates the husk and causes
fermentation stage. Beans are removed and separated from
biochemical reactions in the bean to form the chocolate avor
the placenta. At this stage, they are covered in a sweet
precursors and to reduce the astringent and bitter taste.
mucilaginous pulp.

Fermentation Microflora Active in Cocoa Fermentation

The fermentation stage is of major importance in determining When the beans are removed from the pods, the pulp is inoc-
the quality of cocoa powder and chocolate confectionery. It has ulated with a variety of microorganisms from the environment.
three purposes: The pulp is an excellent medium for the growth of microor-
ganisms because it contains plenty of sugars (Table 1). The
l Liquefaction and removal of the mucilaginous pulp
following types of microorganisms have been found in the
l Killing of the bean
pulp fermentation (although only a few are actively involved):
l Initiating the development of aroma, avor, and color
Acetobacter, Aerobacter, Arthrobacter, Azotomonas, Bacillus, Cellu-
lomonas, Corynebacterium, Erwinia, Escherichia, Lactobacillus,
Microbacterium, Micrococcus, Pediococcus, Propionibacterium,
Procedures of Fermentation Pseudomonas, Sarcina, Serratia, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus,
Zymomonas, and yeasts.
Three main methods of fermentation are used in various parts of The fermentation consists of three overlapping phases. The
the world. The best fermentations results are obtained at total count of microorganisms increases in the rst 2436 h
maximum temperature close to 50  C (ranging from 45 to 50  C). (105106 organisms per gram) and then stabilizes or gradually
1. Heap method: The simplest method, used in West Africa,
requires no special apparatus. In this method, beans are
piled up underneath plantain leaves, covering the surface Phase 1: Anaerobic Yeasts
and bottom of the pile. To assist the sweatings to run away,
In the rst 2436 h, sugars are converted into alcohol in
the pile is built up over radially arranged pieces of wood.
conditions of low oxygen and a pH of below 4.
The pile is kept together for 6 days and turned on the second
and fourth days. This has the effect of making the aerobic
parts anaerobic and vice versa. Piles vary in size and can be
60120 cm in diameter.
2. Box method: This method is used extensively in South
America and involves the fermentation of beans in large
hardwood boxes holding up to 1.5 tonnes. These boxes
have slatted bases or holes in the sides and base, which have
a twofold function. They allow the sweatings to drain away Table 1 Composition of fresh pulp from cocoa
and permit the access of air. Often, these boxes are stacked
stepwise and have removable sides, allowing easy transfer of Component Fresh weight of pulp (%)
beans to the box below. In this system, the rst box often
Water 8286
has twice the surface area of the other boxes and is half the
Mono- and disaccharides 1113
depth. A covering of sacking or plantain leaves is placed over
Plant cell-wall polymers 1.52.8
the surface of the beans. Six changes usually take place in Proteins, peptides, and amino acids 0.640.74
this system in 24 h. Fat 0.350.75
3. Other methods: In these other methods, beans may be Citrate 0.291.3
placed in a plantain leaf-lined basket and left to ferment, or Trace metals, vitamins, ethanol, etc. Trace
they may be placed in a hole in the ground. These methods
Adapted from Fowler, M.S., Leheup, P. and Cordier, J.L., 1998. Cocoa, Coffee and
have the disadvantage of low initial aeration and lack of Tea. In: Wood, B.J.B. (Ed.), Microbiology of Fermented Foods, second ed. vol. 1,
drainage for the sweatings. Blackie, London, 128. with due acknowledgment to Professor B.J.B. Wood.
Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations 487

Table 2 Various yeasts isolated from cocoas

Yeasts Ability to ferment African cocoa Malaysian cocoa

Hansenula spp. Present Present

Kloeckera spp. Present Present
Saccharomyces spp. Present Present
Candida spp.  Present Present
Pichia spp. Weak Present Absent
Schizosaccharomyces spp. Present Absent
Saccharomycopsis spp.  Present Absent
Rhodotorula spp. Absent Present
Debaryomyces spp. Weak Absent Present
Hanseniaspora spp. Absent Present

Adapted from M.S., Leheup, P. and Cordier, J.L., 1998. Cocoa, Coffee and Tea. In: Wood, B.J.B. (Ed.), Microbiology of Fermented Foods, second ed. vol. 1, Blackie, London,
128. with due acknowledgment to Professor B.J.B. Wood.

Table 3 Lactic acid bacteria of cocoa fermentation

African cocoa Malaysian cocoa Trinidadian cocoa

Lactobacillus plantarum (homofermentative) Lactobacillus Lactobacillus acidophilus

Lactobacillus mali (homofermentative) plantarum Lactobacillus bulgaricus
Lactobacillus collinoides (heterofermentative) Lactobacillus Lactobacillus casei
Lactobacillus fermentum (heterofermentative) collinoides Lactobacillus fermentum
Unidentied strains (heterofermentative) Unidentied strains Lactobacillus lactis
Lactobacillus plantarum (also Leuconostoc, Pediococcus, and Streptococcus)

Adapted from M.S., Leheup, P. and Cordier, J.L., 1998. Cocoa, Coffee and Tea. In: Wood, B.J.B. (Ed.), Microbiology of Fermented Foods, second ed. vol. 1, Blackie, London,
128. with due acknowledgment to Professor B.J.B. Wood.

Table 4 Acetic acid bacteria of cocoa fermentation

African cocoa Malaysian cocoa Trinidadian cocoa

Acetobacter rancens Acetobacter rancens Acetobater acetie

Acetobacter xylinum Acetobacter xylinum Acetobacter roseus
Acetobacter ascendens Acetobacter lavaniensis Gluconobacter oxydans
Acetobacter lavaniensis Gluconobacter oxydans
Gluconobacter oxydans

Adapted from M.S., Leheup, P. and Cordier, J.L., 1998. Cocoa, Coffee and Tea. In: Wood, B.J.B. (Ed.), Microbiology of Fermented Foods, second ed. vol. 1, Blackie, London,
128. with due acknowledgment to Professor B.J.B. Wood.

Yeasts isolated from cocoa fermentations (Table 2) produce Phase 3: Acetic Acid Bacteria
pectinolytic enzymes that break down the pulp cell walls. This
Acetic acid bacteria occur very early in fermentation (Table 4)
process causes the pulp to drain off the beans as sweatings. The
and persist until the end of the process. As aeration increases,
spaces formed between the beans allow air to enter. Bean death,
acetic acid bacteria become more important. The main reaction
which usually occurs on the second day, is caused by acetic acid
is the conversion of ethanol to acetic acid.
and ethanol; the rise in temperature does not play any part in
the chemical changes but has a role in the color formation.

Phase 2: Lactic Acid Bacteria

This strongly exothermic reaction is mainly responsible for
Lactic acid bacteria are present at the start of fermentation the rise in temperature up to 50 C.
(Table 3), although yeasts are dominant. The yeast activity
becomes inhibited by alcohol concentration, increasing pH,
and greater aeration. After 4896 h, conditions become more Other Microorganisms Present During
favorable to the lactic acid bacteria, which then dominate. Fermentation and Drying
Lactic acid bacteria convert a wide range of sugars and some
organic acids (e.g., citric and malic acids) to lactic acid and, Toward the end of fermentation, the numbers of spore-
depending on the type of Lactobacillus, to acetic acid, ethanol, forming bacteria increase, especially Bacillus subtilis, B. circu-
and carbon dioxide. lans, and B. licheniformis. In Trinidad, Streptococcus thermophilus
488 Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations

and Bacillus stearothermophilus accounted for more than caffeine are diffused and exudated from the bean, reducing the
half the isolates after 120 h. The most commonly present astringent and bitter taste.
fungi, Aspergillus, Mucor, Penicillium, and Rhizopus, are largely
restricted to the outer surface of the fermenting and drying
beans because they are strongly aerobic, tolerant of low water Flavor-Developing Compounds
activity, and can continue growth until the beans are
nearly dry. Following are the compounds responsible for the main avor
attributes and precursors in cocoa (also presented in Figure 2).
1. Methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine) impart
Effect of Fermentation on Product Quality bitterness. During fermentation, the levels of methylxan-
thines fall by around 30%, probably by diffusion from the
Development of Cocoa Flavor Precursors
Flavor development occurs within the cotyledons in the bean. 2. Polyphenolic compounds impart astringency. The levels
The compounds involved in avor development are split drop signicantly during fermentation and drying. Antho-
between two types of cells: storage cells containing fats and cyanins are rapidly hydrolyzed to cyanidins and sugars
proteins, and pigment cells containing the phenolic com- (catalyzed by glycosidases). This accounts for bleaching of
pounds and xanthines. the purple color of the cotyledons. Polyphenol oxidases
In the fresh, live cocoa seeds, the cells and their contents are convert the polyphenols (mainly catechin) to quinones.
separated by membranes. During fermentation, germination is Proteins and peptides complex with polyphenols give rise to
rst initiated, which causes water uptake by the protein vacu- the brown coloration typical of fermented cocoa beans.
oles within the cells. Later, after bean death, the membranes 3. Maillard reaction precursors are formed from sucrose and
break down. Various enzymes and substrates are then free to storage proteins. Sucrose is converted by invertase into
mix, and the subsequent reactions produce the avor precur- reducing sugars. Fructose is found in fermented dried cocoa
sors. The pH, determined mainly by diffusion of acetic acid, is beans, and glucose is utilized in further reactions. The
important, and the reaction rates are increased by the warm storage proteins are initially hydrolyzed by an aspartic
temperatures during fermentation and drying. endopeptidase (pH optimum 3.5) into hydrophobic oli-
During fermentation, reducing sugars are released and gopeptides. A carboxypeptidase (pH optimum 5.45.8)
proteins are degraded by enzymes to polypeptides and amino then converts these oligopeptides into hydrophilic oligo-
acids, and these sugars form chocolate avor precursors. A peptides and hydrophobic amino acids. These are cocoa
portion of the polyphenols is oxidized, forming large tannin avor precursors involved in Maillard reactions during
molecules. The rest of the polyphenols, theobromine, and roasting to form cocoa avor compounds.

Figure 2 Biochemical change in cocoa during fermentation process (Cross section of cocoa seed). Adopted from presentation from Smilja Lambert,
Mars, Inc.
Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations 489


Drying of fermented cocoa is an essential process as some of the

reactions that produce good avored cocoa are completed
during the drying process. It takes about a 5-to-7-day period.
This process allows acids in the cocoa to evaporate and produce
a low-acid, high-avored product. It reduces moisture from 45
to 7%, and sun drying is the best method to get high-quality


Coffee is not consumed for nutrition. Coffee gives the

consumer pleasure and satisfaction through avor, aroma, and
desirable physiological and psychological effects.

Nature of the Crop

Figure 3 Partial cross section of coffee fruit.
The genus Coffea is a member of the family Rubiaceae and
includes evergreen trees and shrubs. Funnel-shaped owers are
followed by a pulpy fruit, the cherry, which contains two seeds, rich in polysaccharides, lipids, reducing sugars, sucrose, poly-
the coffee beans. Coffea grows wild in Africa and Madagascar, phenols, and caffeine.
and the genus includes a large number of species. Only three, The fruit normally contains two beans (endosperm) sur-
Coffea arabica, Coffea canephora (Robusta), and Coffea liberica rounded by a thin membrane known as the silver skin (sper-
have been successfully used in commercial cultivation. Coffea moderm). The beans and the silver skin are protected by a hard,
liberica, however, was devastated during the 1940s by horny endocarp, which generally is referred to as the parch-
epidemics of tracheomycosis, resulting from infection by ment. Adhering rmly to the outside of the parchment is
Fusarium xylaroides, and commercial growth of this species has a pulpy, mucilaginous mesocarp, which is covered by the fruit
effectively ceased. Both C. arabica and C. canephora are avail- skin or pulp (exocarp) (Figure 3).
able in a large number of varieties and cultivars. A number of
both intra- and interspecic hybrids have been developed, of
which the ArabicaRobusta hybrid, Arabusta, is intended to Harvesting
produce a coffee of better quality than Robusta, and is more
vigorous and disease resistant than Arabica. The beans also To preserve and protect the coffee quality, aroma, taste and
have low-caffeine content. Although only C. arabica and avor as well as acidity in the cup, the right kind of coffee fruits
C. canephora are grown commercially, the gene pool of Coffea have to be harvested at the right time. Coffee is harvested when
includes all species. Species such as C. stenophylla and the berries are fully red ripe. Under ripe and over ripe berries are
C. congenis are thus important sources of novel genetic material difcult to process and result in a poor-quality product. Coffee
in breeding improved strains of C. arabica and C. canephora. berries come to full ripeness over an extended period, and it is
Coffee trees grow in tropical regions, mainly between the usual to pick red berries individually and to repeat picking at
tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, with abundant rainfall, intervals of 714 days.
a warm climate (average temperature 21  C) without frost, at Picking mats should be used to harvest the coffee berry, as it
altitudes ranging from 2000 m mean sea level and above. makes collection easy, and prevents mold formation, and
Coffee trees take about 5 years for the rst full crop and will be avoids the production of Ochra Toxin-A in coffee beans; it also
productive for about 15 years. reduces the Coffee Berry Borer infection.
A maximal yield is normally obtained from 7-year-old trees.
Coffee trees produce an average of 2.5 kg of berries per year,
Coffee Fruit yielding around 0.5 kg of green coffee or the equivalent of
0.4 kg of roasted coffee, which corresponds to about 40 cups of
A mature coffee fruit is a eshy, spheroidal berry, a drupe about beverage.
1520 mm in diameter. It changes color from green to cherry-
red while ripening. Fruits reach their maturity within an average
of 9 months, depending on the variety. Arabica coffee fruits are Fermentation
oval and long, whereas Robusta fruits are smaller, of round to
irregular shape. They are covered by a skinlike, smooth red lm Quality coffee is prepared by pulping the fruit, which are
(the epicarp) that covers the mesocarp. Depending on the cleanly washed with water and dried under sun, and requires
variety, the mesocarp represents 4065% of the weight and is an adequate supply of fresh and clean water. The harvested
composed of water (7085%), sugars, and pectin. The bean is fruits must aim to be pulped on the same day. The previous
490 Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations

day fruit or pulp should not be mixed with the fresh, and physiological activities of the wild microorganisms as well as
pulped water should not be used for washing, as it spoils the those in the bean. Because commercial enzymes are applied by
quality. Fruit skins separated in the pulping process should be mixing them with coffee in fermentation tanks, only a little
taken away as soon as possible to avoid the microbial saving of space is afforded by their use in the normal factory
decomposition of skins. routine.
Pulping involves the removal of the coffee skin by a suitable
mechanical method, such as using a machine aqua-pulper.
Stages of the Coffee Fermentation
After pulping, coffee is fermented. Fermentation of coffee is the
process by which the mucilaginous mesocarp adhering to the Various factory practices increase the rate of fermentation.
coffee parchment is degraded by enzymes. The mucilage is These include dry feeding pulped coffee into fermentation
subsequently washed off to leave parchment coffee, which is tanks and using recirculated water that is rich in enzymes.
subjected to a drying regime to obtain a moisture content of Sophisticated factories aerate or use other additives that
1011%. Coffee fermentation accomplishes two important enhance enzyme activity. The addition of lime provides
objectives. It removes the sticky mucilage layer allowing for calcium ions that activate specic enzymes. After the mucilage
quick drying of the parchment coffee and improves the has been degraded, parchment coffee is washed and graded by
appearance of the raw beans. water in concrete canals.
In East Africa, a two-stage fermentation procedure includes
a quick-dry fermentation stage, washing off the mucilage, fol-
Procedure of Coffee Mucilage Removal lowed by a 24 h underwater soak. The advantages of this
procedure include improvement of the raw beans appearance
By Natural Fermentation
through the outward diffusion of undesirable browning
Coffee fermentation is required for the removal of mucilage compounds from the beans, specically from the center cut and
from parchment coffee. Natural fermentation refers to the the silver skin. Coffee fermented underwater or processed by
process of mucilage removal by enzymes naturally occurring in the two-stage fermentation procedure tends to deteriorate in
the coffee fruit and/or elaborated by the natural microora quality during drying because of the preponderance of cracked
acquired from the environment. Pulped coffee is placed in parchment. This may be avoided by subsequent carefully
concrete or wooden tanks and left to ferment, either under controlled drying.
water or with constant drainage of water and mucilage liquors. Natural fermentation of coffee is carefully controlled;
The latter process, known as dry fermentation, is preferred; otherwise, off avors can develop and be reected in the nal
underwater fermentation is slower and results in a greater liquor quality. Onion avor develops in coffee as a result of the
production of volatile acids, which may taint the nal coffee production of propionic acid. The production of propionic and
beverage. Natural fermentation takes 20100 h; its duration butyric acids during the nal stages of fermentation is greater
varies with the stage of ripeness, temperature, pH value, during underwater fermentation and is also dependent on
concentration of ions, coffee variety, microora population, a heavy initial washing before fermentation. The incidence of
and aeration. It has been demonstrated that lowering the an off avor, referred to as stinkers, may be associated with
temperature and pH value retards the rate of fermentation and high temperatures reached during fermentation. The taste of
that aerobic fermentations are faster than anaerobic fermenta- sourness and stinkers in coffee is caused by fermentation under
tions. It would be expected that the availability of oxygen under anaerobic conditions created by high proportions of reducing
water is restricted by the amount that can dissolve in the water agents in the fermentation waters. Off avors in coffee are
at any given time. The fermentation process should be carefully caused by various factors that need proper investigation based
monitored and stopped as soon as fermentation is complete, as on a correct understanding of the biochemistry involved in the
an extended fermentation can lead to harsh off-coffee avors fermentation process. This problem has led to the introduction
(ferment). of various methods of coffee processing that do not depend on
natural fermentation and therefore is easier to control.
However, the delicate nature of the coffee-bean tissue dees
By Commercial Enzymes
any attempts to rid it completely of off avors as detected by
Several commercial enzymes are available for coffee fermen- a subjective human palate.
tation. The earliest one was marketed under the trade name
Benefax. Later brands have included Pectozyme, Cofepec, and
Ultrazym. These are mold-enzyme preparations with appro- Biochemistry of Coffee Fermentation
priate inert llers. The commercial enzymes are generally
Composition of Mucilage
mixtures of pectic enzymes but may contain hemicellulases and
cellulases. Because of nancial constraints, these enzymes have The chemical and physical characteristics of coffee mucilage are
not been widely used. Most factories restrict the use of basic to an understanding of coffee fermentation. Mucilage
commercial enzymes to peak production periods or when forms 2025%, wet basis layer of 0.52.0 mm thickness.
natural fermentations are slow. Conditions created by over- Chemically, coffee mucilage consists of all of the higher plant
production and slow fermentations usually upset the smooth cell materials, including water, sugars, pectic substances, hol-
running of a factory. Congestion can occur either in fermen- ocellulose, lipids, and proteins (Table 5). The most important
tation and soaking tanks or on drying tables. These conditions chemical components of mucilage are pectic substances
affect the coffee quality adversely because of the concomitant together with carbohydrates and their breakdown products.
Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations 491

Table 5 Chemical composition, on a wet and dry basis,

of coffee mucilage

Mucilage components Chemical composition (%)

Wet basis
Moisture 85.0
Total carbohydrates 7.0
Nitrogen 0.15
Acidity (as citric acid) 0.08
Alcohol-insoluble compounds 5.0
Pectin (as galacturonic acid) 2.6
Dry basis
Pectic substances 33
Reducing sugars 30 Figure 4 Products of coffee fermentation.
Non reducing sugars 20
Cellulose and ash 17
6. Carboxylic acids are produced through the degradation of
sugars by microorganisms.
The important component in the coffee fermentation is 7. Ethanol is one of the products of coffee fermentation
mainly the cell wall and the intercellular material characteristic (Figure 4). The evolution of hydrogen and carbon dioxide
of the parenchymatous cells of fruits. The middle lamella of occurs during both dry and underwater fermentations.
coffee mucilage cells is primarily pectinic, and the cell contains Hydrogen is produced through the breakdown of sugars by
pectin and cellulose materials. The insoluble fraction of coffee bacteria of the coliform group. Escherichia coli metabolize
mucilage is expected to consist mainly of pectic substances in glucose by a mixed acid fermentation at pH 7.8.
close association with other cell wall and intercellular mate- 8. Aerobacter aerogenes gives a lower yield of mixed acids,
rials, including hemicelluloses and phospho- and galactolipids. particularly of lactic acid, because some pyruvic acid is
Breakdown of this cellular material and its detachment from converted into acetylmethyl-carbinol and butanediol.
coffee parchment are important biochemical processes in 9. The presence of reducing and nonreducing sugars in
coffee fermentation. soluble mucilage fractions is observed after complete
fermentation. Some of the sugars forming part of the
Changes Resulting from Fermentation structure of mucilage are arabinose, xylose, galactose,
fructose, and glucose. Arabinose, xylose, and galactose are
1. When coffee is pulped and left in a dry heap or under water, part of the insoluble structure of mucilage. The soluble
fermentation occurs. After a period of 20100 h, depending sugars form an excellent medium for growth of
mainly on the environmental temperature, the mucilage microorganisms.
detaches from the parchment and can be readily washed 10. A lipid fraction isolated from fermented mucilage indi-
with water. cated the presence of an esteried sterol glycoside. Because
2. On completion of fermentation, a few beans when rubbed pectic acids with four or fewer galacturonic acid units are
in the hand feel gritty. not found in natural fermentation liquors, mucilage
3. Various chemical changes occur during the process of degradation involves breakages in cross-linkages, which
fermentation (Table 6). may implicate lipids and hemicellulose materials.
4. The production of carboxylic acids changes the pH value of 11. Changes in the quality of the coffee bean are fundamental
the fermentation liquor from 5.9 to 4.0. Acetic and lactic to the continued practice of naturally fermenting coffee. In
acids (also sometimes propionic acid) are produced early the two-stage fermentation process (in East Africa), the raw
in coffee fermentation, and propionic and butyric acids are bean quality improves, and this improvement is reected
produced later. in the roast and nal beverage quality. The improvement
5. A close positive correlation exists between the appearance in raw appearance is dependent on the diffusion of various
of propionic acid in the fermentation stage and the inci- compounds from the bean, which also result in weight
dence of onion avor in coffee beverages. losses of 312%.
12. The higher weight losses are observed in underwater
Table 6 The composition of coffee mucilage before fermentations. This magnitude of loss would make
and after complete fermentation fermentation an expensive exercise, thus nullifying the
gains in raw bean quality. Despite these observations,
Percentage on dry basis natural fermentation of C. arabica is the preferred dimu-
Component Before fermentation (%) After fermentation (%) cilaging method.

Water soluble 35.3 50.7

Lipid 6.0 4.0 Microora Active in Coffee Fermentation
Pectin 47.0 36.2 The major factors in natural fermentations are the extracellular
Holocellulose 9.4 8.0
enzymes elaborated by microorganisms. Because mucilage
Unaccounted 2.3 1.1
contains simple sugars, polysaccharides, minerals, protein, and
492 Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations

lipids, it forms a good medium for microbial growth. Bacteria eliminate undesirable components is thus recommended,
observed in fermenting coffee include lactic acid-producing although some losses in caffeine and chlorogenic acids may be
bacteria of the genera Leuconostoc and Lactobacillus, coliform observed. Apart from aspects related to fermentation, the
bacteria resembling species of the genera Aerobacter and growth of microorganisms in beans has been linked to the
Escherichia (in Brazilian coffee), and pectinolytic species of the development of off avors and off tastes and the presence of
genus Bacillus. mycotoxins. Beans causing rio taste showed the presence of
A microbial succession, involving members of the Enter- bacteria and molds. The presence of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole,
obacteriaceae, species of Enterococcus, and lactic acid which can be produced by molds, has been detected in beans
bacteria, plays some part in the lowering of the pH value to showing organoleptic deviations.
about 4.3, which tends to inhibit the activity of pectinolytic
enzymes. This inhibited activity prevents the growth of many
spoilage microorganisms. The extensive growth of micro-
See also: Lactobacillus: Introduction; The Leuconostocaceae
oganisms is likely to lead to the development of undesirable
Bacteria belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae found
in Congo coffee are similar to those isolated from fermenting
Brazilian coffee. They resemble closely Erwinia dissolvens and
Further Reading
Erwinia atroseptica.
Pectinolytic microorganisms isolated from coffee fermen-
Arunga, R.O., 1982. Coffee. In: Rose, A.H. (Ed.), Fermented Foods, Economic
tations belong to the genera Bacillus, Erwinia, Aspergillus, Peni- Microbiology, vol. 7. Academic Press, London, p. 259.
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