European Food Research and Technology

, Volume 245, Issue 8, pp 1733–1741 | Cite as

The chemical composition and quality of the Parainema coffee cultivar under different shading conditions, as assessed by a leaf flavonol optical index

  • Lorenza TuccioEmail author
  • Patrizia Pinelli
  • Andrej Godina
  • Juan Manuel Medina
  • Giovanni Agati
Original Paper


The introgressed cultivar of Parainema coffee was studied in two Honduras plantations that differed in their tree-shading system, namely intercropping as opposed to agroforestry. The cumulative sunlight effect on plants was determined by means of a non-destructive index of leaf flavonols, applied here for the first time to the coffee culture. The coffee seeds selectively harvested from shaded and full sunlight plants were analyzed for both their chemical composition and the derived cup quality. The high and constant shading of the agroforestry system determined both the heaviest coffee beans and an excellent rating of the beverage. Green beans under shade contained higher levels of caffeine and lower levels of trigonelline and mono-caffeoylquinic acids (other than chlorogenic acid) than those from sun-exposed plants. Banana-tree shading produced no differences in the green bean chemicals with respect to sunlight. The employed leaf flavonol optical index allowed to quantify the spatial variability of shading within the coffee plantations. Regardless of the light regime and site, Parainema coffee was classified as a “specialty”, an aspect that, together with its high seed weight and resistance to disease, can further favor its spread among coffee producers.


Coffea arabica Shade Fluorescence-based sensor Antioxidants Sensorial quality Honduran coffee 



This work was supported by the Short Term Mobility Program 2016 of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and has been made possible thanks to the hosting CATIE (Centro Agronomico de Investigación y Enseñanza) in Honduras. The tests were carried out at the Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Ltda (COCAFCAL, Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras) at the Francis Geovany Melgar Estevez and Noé Fernando Portillo plantations with the help of the agronomists Rodrigo Redes and Alex Omar Meléndez Andino. We thank Dr. Mauro Centritto (Ivalsa, CNR—Firenze) for granting the use of the Dualex sensor.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Compliance with ethics requirements

This research does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Istituto di Fisica Applicata “Nello Carrara”-Consiglio Nazionale delle RicercheSesto FiorentinoItaly
  2. 2.DiSIA-Department of Statistics, Computer Sciences and Applications-PHYTOLAB Laboratory, Scientific and Technological PoleUniversity of FlorenceSesto FiorentinoItaly
  3. 3.Umami Area Association, Member of Specialty Coffee AssociationBagno a RipoliItaly
  4. 4.Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE)TegucigalpaHonduras

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