Defining terroir of Australian coffee to increase demand and investment

  • 43 pages

  • Published: 6 Sep 2023

  • Author(s): Lei Liu, Simon Williams

  • ISBN: 978-1-76053-413-4

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Australians love their coffee, consuming more than six billion cups annually. Yet while Australia has one of the most sophisticated coffee cultures in the world, more than 99% of green coffee beans are sourced internationally. The Australian coffee growing industry is long established and today consists of about 50 growers split between North Queensland, south-eastern Queensland and northern NSW. These growers have successfully created a distinct niche, high-quality product that services small domestic, tourist and specialist export markets. This high-quality Australian-grown coffee has a unique terroir, commonly known as the “taste of place”. The terroir of wine is well-known and provides competitive advantages for high-quality wine producers, but it is not well-known for coffee.

This report summarises an investigation into coffee terroir, especially the terroir of Australian-grown coffee. More than 100 Australian-grown single-origin green beans from 28 farms were analysed, along with an additional 50 international single-origin green beans. The green beans were roasted using a fixed roast profile to ensure equal treatment and then tasted by 15 coffee panels across Australia. The panellists included coffee growers, green bean buyers, importers, roasters, baristas, trainers and coffee judges. These coffees were also analysed chemically to provide a unique fingerprint.

Additionally, in a global first, this project has developed a coffee character wheel to standardise acidity, mouthfeel and aftertaste sensory terms. The research has confirmed Australian-grown coffee has unique measurable terroir (e.g. sweeter, nuttier and fruitier flavour) that coffee drinkers appreciate. The produced terroir profiles will assist coffee producers in defining and communicating the unique characteristics and flavours of their coffees.