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Study on Brazilian coffee cultivation: conventional coffee healthier than organic coffee

Organically grown coffee contains fewer chlorogenic acids than conventional coffee: this is the result of a new study of the work group of Nikolai Kuhnert. (Source: Andre Nery/


September 8, 2020
They help lowering the blood sugar level, reduce the risk of diabetes and have a positive effect on the liver: chlorogenic acids are considered beneficial for one’s health. In researching coffee beans from Brazil, the work group of Nikolai Kuhnert, Professor of Chemistry at Jacobs University, came to an apparently surprising result: organically grown coffee contains fewer chlorogenic acids than conventional coffee. "But that doesn't mean that consumers shouldn't buy organic coffee anymore," emphasized Kuhnert. The study was recently published in the journal "Food Research International".
The team at Jacobs University examined 67 roasted coffee samples from different regions of Brazil. They came from organic and conventional cultivation. Daniel Granato, Professor of Food Chemistry at the University of Ponta Grossa in Brazil, is a cooperation partner of the study. He collected and classified the samples during visits to plantations in various regions of the country. "The quality of the samples is very good. We got a good picture of how the coffee is grown," explained Kuhnert.  
Chlorogenic acids are found in many fruits and vegetables, for example in apples, pears, legumes or artichokes. However, the main supplier of chlorogenic acids for human nutrition is the coffee bean – each cup of coffee contains about 200 milligrams. Arabica coffee alone contains around 40 different chlorogenic acids. On average, a person consumes between one and two grams of these natural substances every day.
The compound class not only shapes the taste of coffee, but is also attributed a whole range of health-promoting properties. It is anti-inflammatory, has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system as well as an antibacterial and an antiviral effect and, above all, lowers the blood sugar. "A dramatic reduction in type 2 diabetes can be observed among regular coffee drinkers," emphasized Kuhnert, who has been researching the effects of the coffee bean and its chemical composition for two decades. In addition, coffee consumption reduces the risk of increased liver values or liver cirrhosis.
In their research, the scientists have now discovered that organically grown coffee beans contain fewer chlorogenic acids than conventional ones. Why is this the case? "We can't say exactly," Kuhnert stressed. It is very likely, however, that conventional plants, in order to protect themselves from predators such as microorganisms, fungi or bacteria, produce antioxidants that are beneficial to human health. "Organic coffee doesn't seem to need to do this, it's less stressed," said Kuhnert. The scientist has already observed a similar phenomenon with kale. There, the use of environmental toxins also leads to a biological reaction, namely the production of antioxidants that have a cancer-preventing effect.
Nevertheless, the scientist believes that organically grown coffee has clear advantages, for example regarding its environmental effects. It only isn’t extra beneficial to one’s health. But this could be compensated for – with an extra cup of coffee.
Questions are answered by:
Nikolai Kuhnert | Professor of Chemistry
n.kuhnert [at] | Tel.: +49 421 200-3120
Link to the Study:
Classification of Brazilian roasted coffees from different geographical origins and farming practices based on chlorogenic acid profiles