Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. However, there is still no way to evaluate coffee beans without roasting them, making coffee, and drinking the coffee. Suntory has tried to find a way to evaluate raw coffee beans by studying the metabolites in high-quality beans. Through this research, we have developed a method to predict taste.
In the past, sensory analysis was used to evaluate the taste of coffee beans. However, this type of analysis was not always the most appropriate, because different people have different tastes. Suntory believed that the type and amount of metabolites in raw beans affected their flavor. With this belief, we began research to discover the metabolites that make delicious coffee.
Coffee tends to taste better with riper beans. In a collaborative project with Dr. Hiroyuki Wariishi at the Kyushu University Faculty of Arts and Science, we adapted an innovative method that allowed us to analyze over a thousand metabolites in raw coffee beans at different levels of ripeness. They found that there were higher levels of tryptophan (an amino acid) in less ripe coffee beans. Tryptophan causes the unpleasant odor in low-quality coffee, and has a negative effect on the flavor of brewed coffee. The study also identified another component (3-Methylbutanoyl Glycosides) in raw coffee beans that make the coffee taste better.
The results of the study allow Suntory to develop a technique for identifying high-quality beans while they are still raw. It also helps us develop products that take advantage of certain coffee beans. Suntory will continue to research into coffee beans, with the goal of creating the highest-quality coffee.
We always strive to improve upon our existing research and technology. Through these efforts, Suntory aims to create more innovation and enrich our consumers' lives.