Defining terroir of Australian Coffee to increase demand and investment

Southern Cross University

  • Project code: PRJ-012341

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Thursday, October 31, 2019

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, May 31, 2023

  • Journal Articles From Project: Defining the character of Australian coffee Food Research International (Issue: 2023 on 1/10/2023), Human vs Machine to Define Coffee Terroir Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (Issue: 2023 on 1/10/2023), Chemometrics and sensory analysis of innovative post-harvest processing methods applied to single-origin coffees Food Science & Technology (Issue: 2023 on 1/10/2023), Does Coffee Have Terroir and How Should It Be Assessed? Foods (Issue: 11(13) on 27/6/2022), Coffee is more than flavour, the creation of a coffee character wheel Journal of Sensory Studies (Issue: under revision on 1/7/2023)

  • National Priority: NEI - New and Emerging Industries - SM1


The Australian Coffee grower industry generates a unique product from a small footprint. Established as a commercial entity over the past 30 years it has successfully created a distinct niche, delivering high quality product to small domestic, tourist and specialist export markets. However, over 99% of the coffee consumed in Australia is roasted from imported beans, and major Australian cities now boast one of the most sophisticated coffee cultures worldwide. This presents significant market opportunities for Australian grown beans. Increasing the size of the industry depends on attracting new investors who are directly involved and also provided with relevant information to define the value of Australian-origin coffee as a global-niche product. To achieve this objective, we will use an innovative approach to defining organoleptic properties of cupping ‘terroir’ that harnesses advanced metabolomics and machine-learning and/or biomarker capabilities.


New and Emerging Industries

Research Organisation

Southern Cross University

Objective Summary

The Australian coffee growing industry is currently lacking robust platform and associated data to characterize and market the sensory components of their products, particularly in relation to terroir. This limits their ability to become competitive in the market and establish brand identity that goes beyond “Grown in Australia”.
In order to address this limitation this project proposes to:

  1. Apply a whole of industry approach including key players from the major city-based specialist coffee markets as partners directly involved in the sourcing and selection of beans for testing.
  2. Harness recent advances in organoleptic analysis and machine learning and /or biomarker identification to develop an innovative platform for defining coffee ‘terroir’ to reflect and represent cuppers’ palate definitions, with a focus on describing the unique attributes of Australian sub-tropical single-cultivar coffee.