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Linking cocoa varietals and microbial diversity of Nicaraguan fine cocoa bean fermentations and their impact on final cocoa quality appreciation

Papalexandratou, Zoi, Kaasik, Kristina, Kauffmann, Laureano Villagra, Skorstengaard, Albert, Bouillon, Gregoire, Espensen, Julie Leth, Hansen, Lars H., Jakobsen, Rasmus Riemer, Blennow, Andreas, Krych, Lukasz, Castro-Mejía, Josué L., Nielsen, Dennis Sandris
International journal of food microbiology 2019 v.304 pp. 106-118
Acetobacter, Citrus, Gluconobacter, Hanseniaspora uvarum, Kazachstania, Lactobacillus fermentum, Pichia kudriavzevii, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Tatumella, acetic acid bacteria, bacterial communities, chocolate liquor, citrates, cocoa beans, fermentation, flavor, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, highlands, metabolites, pulp, sensory evaluation, sucrose, yeasts, Guinea, Nicaragua
Nicaraguan cocoa bean fermentations of several single local cocoa varieties originating from the same region (North Highlands of Nicaragua, San Jose de Bocay/El Cuá) were compared to fermentations of blended cocoa varietals from other producing regions of the country (Waslala and Nueva Guinea) making use of High Throughput Sequencing techniques, metabolite target analysis and sensory evaluation of cocoa liquor samples. A succession of the important cocoa-related yeasts Hanseniaspora uvarum/opuntiae, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and/or Pichia kudriavzevii was seen for single varietals and Nueva Guinea fermentations, while Kazachstania humilis dominated the mid and end phase of the Waslala cocoa fermentations. Tatumella species (mainly Tatumella terrea and Tatumella punctata) predominated the bacterial community at the onset of all fermentations followed by unusually late (generally 2 days into the fermentations) appearance of Lactobacillus fermentum relative to fermentations in other parts of the World. Acetobacter spp. were the main acetic acid bacteria during all fermentations, but also Gluconobacter spp. were involved in some single-variety fermentations. All fermentations proved complete as determined by metabolite analysis with bean sucrose being fully depleted and pulp sugars exhausted after 48–72 h of fermentation. From an organoleptic point of view, all Nicaraguan cocoas of this study reflected fine fruity (citrus or berry-like) flavours with distinct herbal or caramel notes. Floral notes were associated with the cases where P. kudriavzevii was involved in the later stages of fermentation. Intense citrus/fruity character was related to high pulp and bean citrate concentrations. Off-notes were found in some over-fermented batches where Bacillus spp. was detected. No relation between cut-test results and organoleptic appreciation was seen.