Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Dr Mario Fernandez Alduenda

Food Science

Mario Fernandez Alduenda



Formation of flavour in natural coffees

Supervised by Assoc Prof John Birch, Dr Karen Lusk and Associate Professor Pat Silcock.


Mario was born in a family with a long tradition of coffee growing, processing and exporting in the mountains of eastern Mexico. He has worked with coffee flavour since his undergraduate degree in Food Technology at Universidad de las Américas – Puebla, Mexico, in 1995. He then headed to the Université Montpellier II (France) where he completed a postgraduate degree in Food Science. For 15 years he worked as a coffee professional in many positions in the industry. As a consultant, he has had the opportunity to travel to many coffee-producing countries. He came to Otago with his wife and children.

Project Outline

Coffee can be produced by two main post-harvest processing methods: Natural coffee is produced by the dry method, while washed coffee is produced by the wet method. In the dry method, whole coffee cherries are sun-dried until the bean attains 12% moisture. On the other hand, the wet method involves pulping the coffee cherries and removing the mucilage around the coffee beans prior to drying.

The flavour profile of natural coffees is different to the profile of washed coffees. However, a relationship between the natural coffee processing, specific flavour compounds and the distinct natural coffee flavour has not been studied. In order to understand the main flavour-forming mechanisms during the dry post-harvest process of Arabica natural coffee, this research involves the following objectives: to determine the effect of post-harvest processing methods (washed, natural and pulped natural) on the flavour of coffee; to characterise the sensory profiles of coffee processed using natural post-harvest methods; to identify flavour compounds responsible for key flavours of coffee processed using natural post-harvest methods, and to investigate the effect of different natural  post-harvest processing treatments (by favouring different fermentative populations) on flavour profiles and specific flavour compounds.