Although fatty acids are known to be important components of coffee flavor and aroma, no study relating such compounds to the quality of coffee has been conducted. Considering the importance of attaining maximum flavor and aroma in specialty coffees, we aimed to investigate the relationship between the fatty acid composition and sensory characteristics of different Bourbon genotypes cultivated under different edaphoclimatic conditions. Four genotypes of arabica coffee were evaluated on the fatty acid profiles and parameters of quality. The genotypes were evaluated in three Brazilian locations. For the first time, we showed that sensory attributes are the most suitable potential discriminators of specialty coffees. In addition, assessing the levels of fatty acids allowed us to obtain information about the key compounds that positively or negatively affect coffee beverage quality. Saturated fatty acids, including arachidic, stearic and palmitic acid are potential discriminators of the quality of specialty coffees, indicating better sensory quality. Conversely, unsaturated fatty acids, including elaidic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acid may be related to coffees with less intense acidity, fragrance, body and flavor.
Key words: Sensory evaluation, environment, bourbon coffee, chemical compounds, gas chromatography.
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