World Coffee Research (WCR) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) are comparing two Colombian coffees to find out if a natural variety or a hybrid variety fairs higher. The Colombia Sensory Trial will analyse the aroma, fragrance, and taste of the Colombian Caturra and Castillo coffee varieties. “The work represents a rare opportunity to compare the performance of two varieties growing side-by-side over 25 farms,” said Dr. Timothy Schilling of WCR, in a statement. “For the first time we’ll be able to study the effect of key environmental factors like altitude, soil type, shade, etc on quality attributes, and examine the effect that variety plays within and among all the different environments.” The Colombian coffee research institute Cenicafé, created the Castillo variety to maximise yields and cup quality while increasing disease resistance. Caturra is a natural mutation of the Bourbon variety that is well-regarded for taste and smell, but is susceptible to diseases, particularly coffee leaf rust. “Small-scale coffee farmers in Colombia and across the world are making decisions today that will affect their families’ fortunes for decades to come. Initiatives like the Colombia Sensory Trial will help them make those decisions on the basis of better information,” said Michael Sheridan, CRS Coffee Advisor, in a statement. CRS will collect samples from farms where the two varieties are being grown side-by-side. This process aims to eliminate differences in environmental, agronomic and processing variables, isolating the impact of genetic material on cup quality. Coffee cuppers have been recruited from specialty coffee companies. They include Counter Culture Coffee, George Howell Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee, Keurig Green Mountain, Red Fox Coffee Merchants, Starbucks, and Stumptown Coffee. Each participant will taste the coffees in a blind cupping. Following the cupping events, laboratory-based sensory tests will be performed at the sensory lab of Kansas State University. CRS and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) will collaborate to analyse the findings. The results will be published in 2015. Photograph provided by the Catholic Relief Services.