The cup quality of coffee depends on many factors. Believe it or not, shade grown coffee can present better flavor and aroma characteristics than beans produced in free exposure coffee plantations.
If you do not know much about the factors that influence the quality of coffee in the cup, we invite you to read our prior post COFFEE FERMENTATION: 8 THINGS YOU PROBABLY DO NOT KNOW. Now that you know what factors influence the quality of the coffee cup, let’s move on.
How can shade affect the quality of coffee in the cup?
Inside a coffee plantation that grows under shade, a microclimate is created in which there can be differences of 1.5-3 °C less compared to the outside environmental temperature.
Several studies have shown that in coffee plants grown in colder climates or under shade, the ripening time of the cherries is longer. This means that there is more time for more carbohydrates to accumulate in the bean. As more carbohydrates accumulate, the berries become larger, heavier, and have fewer physical defects.
Since the physical quality of the bean is linked to cup quality, these larger and heavier beans will result in cups with more sweetness, acidity, and body.
There is also more time for a greater amount of trigonelline and chlorogenic acid to degrade, which are the compounds responsible for the bitter and astringent taste of the coffee.
There will also be more time for a greater amount of esters, aldehydes, ketones, and alcohols to be produced, which are responsible for the flavor and aroma of coffee.
At the same time, the lengthening of the maturation period gives rise to the degradation of undesirable compounds, and the corresponding greater production of desirable compounds.
This in turn translates into a better flavor and aroma of the coffee cup.