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Authenticity Testing of Arabica Coffee via 1H-NMR

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Pan-European Investigation of Food Control Authorities on Coffee Fraud

July 2019. The addition of cheaper Robusta to a "100% Arabica" coffee is a financially motivated adulteration. An action co-ordinated by Europol carried out a large number of controls on Arabica coffees in early 2019 and in some cases revealed admixtures of Robusta. Eurofins provides the reliable proof of authenticity of Arabica by means of NMR.

Arabica or Robusta?

Arabica (Coffea arabica) and Robusta (Coffea canephora) are the two most important commercial coffee types. Due to the more elaborate growing conditions required for Arabica (“mountain coffee”), there is a price difference between the two varieties and thus a potential for fraud. Adding cheaper Robusta to a 100% Arabica coffee is an illegal adulteration.

Determination of 16-OMC to Verify Authenticity

The marker substance 16-O-methylcafestol (16-OMC) can be used to determine unambiguously whether a coffee contains a proportion of Robusta. 16-OMC occurs only in Robusta and not in Arabica. A coffee declared as 100% Arabica must therefore not contain 16-OMC. Eurofins offers the determination of 16-OMC by 1H-NMR analysis as an accredited method. The detectable proportion of Robusta in a coffee blend is 1–2 %.

Operation Opson VIII Is Reviewing Falsification of Arabica Across Europe

At the beginning of 2019, an action coordinated by Europol and Interpol to combat food fraud focused on Arabica coffee in thirteen European countries. In order to detect a fraudulent addition of Robusta, the determination of 16-OMC by means of 1H-NMR analysis was also applied in the official surveillance. Out of 134 samples analysed in Germany, only three were found to be abnormal. In some other countries, the proportion of rejected samples was significantly higher.

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