Research: Environmental Factors and its effects on Caffeine Quality and Caffeine Content in Colombian Coffee
Awards: 2nd Place Plant Science Award, Somers Science Fair 2022
Mentor: Dr. Zoe Diaz
Research Location: Chicago Botanical Garden
There are two types of coffees, Coffea robusta and Coffea arabica. In Colombia, arabica coffee is mainly grown and it is one of the main sources of coffee production in South America. High altitude and increased shade levels are factors that have shown to affect caffeine content. Research on environmental factors on caffeine content and quality within coffee are limited, especially on Colombian arabica coffee that is grown within small-scale farms. The purpose of this research is to analyze the environmental factors that affect coffee quality and caffeine content. The possible outcome will be that high canopy cover, high water availability, flat slope, and high altitude will increase caffeine content and quality. Research will be conducted in the department of Antioquia in Colombia, where three provinces that produce coffee will be studied, Tamesis, Valparaiso, and Rio Negro. Variables will be measured such as the elevation of the plant, the canopy cover, and ground inclination along with other variables. Materials such as a digital rangefinder, clinometer, and densiometer will be used to measure these variables. Dried coffee beans will also be brought back from Colombia to the U.S where liquid chromatography will be used to measure caffeine content within each group of dried coffee beans from the three provinces. Related results have shown areas of mid altitude with dense canopy coverage along with high altitude and medium canopy coverage have the highest caffeine content. Expected results are that the dried coffee beans grown with a high altitude, low canopy cover, and low illumination will have the highest caffeine content. The significance of these findings are that not much research has been conducted on the quality of Colombian arabica coffee, specifically rural areas grown by local farmers. Such research is also important to the local economy of Colombia and will be significant in researching climate change and its effects on coffee production.