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Cirad

Breeding for coffee quality

Montagnon C., Marraccini P., Bertrand B.. 2012. In : Oberthür Thomas (ed.), Läderach Peter (ed.), Cock James H. (ed.). Specialty coffee : managing quality. Penang : IPNI [Southeast Asia], p. 89-117.

In line with the focus on specialty coffee, we will concentrate on the breeding of Coffea arabica. Contrary to what many may believe, breeding for coffee quality is a relatively new initiative. The challenges and opportunities that breeders face when selecting varieties for high quality are discussed. In the coffee production sector, when talking about varieties, most people will mention Robusta and Arabica. This confusion between species, Coffea canephora and C. Arabica respectively, and varieties is typical of a pure commodity sector where only the largest and most obvious differences are recognized. According to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, a variety is "a plant grouping within a single botanical taxon of the lowest known rank, which grouping" can be: "i) defined by the expression of the characteristics resulting from a given genotype or combination of genotypes, ii) distinguished from any other plant grouping by the expression of at least one of the said characteristics and iii) considered as a unit with regard to its suitability for being propagated unchanged". One would argue that Bourbon or Tipica are Arabica coffee varieties and it is true that most coffee people would be able to roughly describe the phenotype of each. However, referring to the definition of a variety: exactly what are the characteristics expressed by Bourbon or Tipica? Are they distinguishable from other Arabica plants? Further adding to the complexity is the recognition by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) of three Arabica coffee categories: Colombian milds, other milds and Brazilian natural. Historically, the mainstream coffee market has been based largely on this classification and the reputation of quality coffee tends to be associated with geographic origin irrespective of the variety or botanical type. In this chapter, the concept of coffee variety and its relation to market demand are discussed. The current knowledge of coffee genetics and quality are also discussed, along with the gaps in knowledge that still remain. Breeding strategies are then proposed, stressing the need for new high throughput phenotyping of selection criteria linked to quality. Finally, some thoughts are offered about how producers might take advantage of new advances in genetics and selection methodologies. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : commercialisation; marché; qualité; changement climatique; résistance aux maladies; composition chimique; variété; phénotype; amélioration des plantes; coffea canephora; coffea arabica; coffea; monde

Thématique : Génétique et amélioration des plantes; Composition des produits alimentaires; Commerce, commercialisation et distribution

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