Saturday March 28, 2020

Here’s How The Microbes Help You Make a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Besides lactic acid bacteria, other micro-organisms that play a role during wet coffee fermentation include enterobacteria, yeasts, acetic acid bacteria, bacilli and filamentous fungi. But it is still not known how most bacteria influence this process, De Vuyst said

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A barista pours steamed milk into a cup of coffee at a cafe in Los Angeles, Sept. 22, 2017. State health officials proposed a regulation change Friday that would declare coffee doesn't present a significant cancer risk, countering a California court ruling.
A barista pours steamed milk into a cup of coffee at a cafe in Los Angeles, Sept. 22, 2017. State health officials proposed a regulation change Friday that would declare coffee doesn't present a significant cancer risk, countering a California court ruling. VOA

Ever wondered what makes your coffee taste good? It’s the microbes, finds a study.

The study showed that lactic acid bacteria which help in the longer fermentation of coffee beans results in better taste, contrary to conventional wisdom.

“A cup of coffee is the final product of a complex chain of operations: farming, post-harvest processing, roasting and brewing,” said lead investigator Luc De Vuyst, Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Belgium.

There are several variants of post-harvest processing, among which wet processing and dry processing are the most common. Wet processing — commonly used for Arabica and specialty coffees — is the step that includes fermentation.

The research, published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal, was carried out at an experimental farm in Ecuador. The team found that during extended fermentation, leuconostocs — a genus of lactic acid bacteria used in the fermentation of cabbage to sauerkraut and in sourdough starters — declined in favour of lactobacilli.

coffee
Hot coffee contains more antioxidants than cold coffee. Pixabay

Lactic acid bacteria were already present before fermentation, and these acid tolerant lactobacilli proliferated even more during this process.

“It is challenging to draw a causal link between the microbiota and the volatile compounds in the beans — those compounds that contribute to the coffee’s smell — since many of these compounds can be of microbial, endogenous bean metabolism, or chemical origin,” De Vuyst said.

But De Vuyst noted that the microbial communities, in particular the lactic acid bacteria, showed an impact.

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It may have “had a protective effect toward coffee quality during fermentation because of their acidification of the fermenting mass, providing a stable microbial environment and hence preventing growth of undesirable micro-organisms that often lead to off-flavours,” he said.

Besides lactic acid bacteria, other micro-organisms that play a role during wet coffee fermentation include enterobacteria, yeasts, acetic acid bacteria, bacilli and filamentous fungi. But it is still not known how most bacteria influence this process, De Vuyst said. (IANS)

Next Story

20% Malaria Risk in Deforestation Hot Spots: Study

Deforestation for coffee production ups malaria risk

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Malaria deforestation
Researchers have estimated that 20 per cent of the malaria risk in deforestation hot spots is driven by the international trade of exports. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of an Indian-origin, have estimated that 20 per cent of the malaria risk in deforestation hot spots is driven by the international trade of exports including coffee, cocoa, palm oil, tobacco, beef and cotton.

Previous studies have shown deforestation and rainforest disturbances can increase the transmission of malaria by creating conditions where mosquitoes thrive: warmer habitats and fewer predators. “What does this mean for affluent consumers?” asks study senior author Professor Manfred Lenzen, from the University of Sydney in Australia.

“We need to be more mindful of our consumption and procurement, and avoid buying from sources implicated with deforestation, and support sustainable land ownership in developing countries,” Lenzen said.

According to the researchers, directing consumption away from deforestation has benefits beyond the malaria link; it will help reducing biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions as well. For the findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, the research team investigated links between the increasing risk of malaria in developing countries to products demanded by distant consumers.

Malaria deforestation
Deforestation and rainforest disturbances can increase the transmission of malaria by creating conditions where mosquitoes thrive. Pixabay

“This study is the first to assess the role of global consumption in increasing deforestation and, in turn, malaria risk. Unsustainable human consumption is clearly driving this trend,” said Indian-origin researcher and study co-author Dr Arunima Malik from the University of Sydney in Australia.

“We achieved this by quantitatively relating malaria incidence first with deforestation, then to primary commodity production, which we then connected to global supply-chain networks and ultimately to worldwide consumer demand,” Malik said. The final step was accomplished by coupling a highly detailed and large international database with an established and widely used analytical technique – multi-region input-output (MRIO) analysis, the study said.

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“This work goes beyond simple incidence mapping and correlations, in that it unveils a global supply-chain network that links malaria occurring in specific locations because of deforestation with globally dispersed consumption,” Malik said. The results of the study can be used for more demand-side approaches to mitigating malaria incidence by focusing on regulating malaria-impacted global supply chains, the researchers said.

Demand-side initiatives such as product labelling and certification, supply-chain dialogue and green procurement standards have been successful in addressing trade-related global problems such as threats to species and child labour. (IANS)