Naturally Decaffeinated Coffee Beans Found
Discovery May Lead to Better-Tasting Decaf Coffees
June 24, 2004 -- A better tasting cup of decaf may be just a
genetic switch away.
Researchers have discovered a naturally decaffeinated variety
of the popular arabica coffee bean that may be able to pass on its low-caffeine
trait to other arabica coffee bean plants through breeding.
Decaffeinated coffee accounts for about 10% of the world coffee
market and is popular among those who want the taste of coffee without the
caffeine buzz. But taste is rarely a selling point for the low-caffeine brews
because many important flavor compounds are lost in the decaffeination
A Natural Decaf Coffee?
In a letter appearing in the June 24 issue of Nature,
researchers in Brazil report that after studying 3,000 coffee trees, they have
discovered a variety of arabica that is almost completely free of caffeine.
Coffee made from the Coffee arabica plant is the most
consumed coffee in the world. But until now all arabica beans were thought to
be naturally high in caffeine.
Previous attempts to transfer the low-caffeine trait to arabica
coffee beans from other wild coffee species from Madagascar have been
But researchers say all Coffee arabica plants belong to
the same genetic family, which means developing a caffeine-free hybrid could be
achieved using regular breeding techniques to produce a high-quality commercial