Significant Contamination Found in Arabica Coffee

Not so fast on the 100 percent Arabica coffee.


A recent report released by Norwich, England’s Quadram Institute found that ten percent of coffees boasting to be 100 percent Arabica were actually contaminated with Robusta. Many experts fear that the results of the scientific survey may point to fraud within the coffee industry, at levels of 5 to 20 percent of labels claiming to be 100 percent Arabica coffee.


These results are significant because Arabica is generally considered to be of much higher quality, costing more than its Robusta counterpart. One of the coffee samples tested yielded a result of 33 percent non-Arabica beans, raising concern that the fraud is more widespread and escalated than originally thought. Although the study was conducted in the U.K., researchers studied more than 60 separate coffee manufacturers from a cross-section of 11 production facilities located all over the world.


The research group acknowledged that they will continue to investigate the issue and that it could lead to criminal investigations in the U.K. coffee industry. The primary question on the minds of coffee connoisseurs everywhere is whether the contamination is intentional or accidental. Researchers claim that the sensitivity rate of their process is as little as 1 percent, meaning that just a small amount of non-Arabica coffee would lead to a positive result of contamination. This number is significant, as 1 percent is the figure generally accepted to be the line of demarcation between accidental contamination and intentional fraud.

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