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International Journal of Food Microbiology
Vol. 321, 2020

Ecological diversity, evolution and metabolism of microbial communities in the wet fermentation of Australian coffee beans

Hosam Elhalis, Julian Cox, Jian Zhao

Food Science and Technology, School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia


The microbial ecology in the fermentation of Australian coffee beans was investigated in this study. Pulped coffee beans were kept underwater for 36 h before air dried. Samples were collected periodically, and the microbial communities were analyzed by culture-dependent and independent methods. Changes in sugars, organic acids and microbial metabolites in the mucilage and endosperm of the coffee beans during fermentation were monitored by HPLC. Culture-dependent methods identified 6 yeast and 17 bacterial species, while the culture-independent methods, multiple-step total direct DNA extraction and high throughput sequencing, identified 212 fungal and 40 bacterial species. Most of the microbial species in the community have been reported for wet fermentation of coffee beans in other parts of the world, but the yeast Pichia kudriavzevii was isolated for the first time in wet coffee bean fermentation. The bacterial community was dominated by aerobic mesophilic bacteria (AMB) with Citrobacter being the predominant genus. Hanseniaspora uvarum and Pichia kudriavzevii were the predominant yeasts while Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Lactococcus lactis were the predominant LAB. The yeasts and bacteria grew significantly during fermentation, utilizing sugars in the mucilage and produced mannitol, glycerol, and lactic acid, leading to a significant decrease in pH. The results of this study provided a preliminary understanding of the microbial ecology of wet coffee fermentation under Australian conditions. Further studies are needed to explore the impact of microbial growth and metabolism on coffee quality, especially flavour.

Keywords : Coffee fermentation, Microbial ecology, NGS, Microbial metabolism.

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