- Dynamic and microbial biodiversity was different at different coffee growing altitude.
- Chlorogenic acid and fatty acids increased with increasing altitude.
- The floral attribute was only detected at altitude 1400 m.
- Pulped coffee processing was most suitable at low altitude.
- High altitudes, both processes can be conducted to obtain a beverage with unusual sensory profile.
The objective of this work was to evaluate the influence of different altitudes on the epiphytic microbiota of coffee beans and on sensorial and chemical quality of coffees grown at 800, 1000, 1200, and 1400 m in Serra do Caparaó, Espírito Santo, Brazil. For microbiological analysis, the population counts of mesophilic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria (LAB), and yeasts were performed from the surface plating. The isolates were grouped and identified from the Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and sequencing of the ribosomal region was used. The chemical composition of the green grains was evaluated by Raman spectroscopy, and the sensory analysis of the roasted grains was performed using temporal dominance of sensations (TDS). During fermentation, there was a decrease in the LAB in pulped coffee from 800 and 1000 m altitude, while an increase was observed at 1200 and 1400 m. In natural coffee, there was an increase of LAB population at all altitudes. The highest diversity of mesophilic bacteria and yeast were identified in natural 1400 m and 1000 m, respectively. However pulped coffee treatments it was at 1200 m and 800 m. The chlorogenic acid and fatty acids in the green bean changed with altitude variation and processing. The floral attribute was detected only at altitude 1400 m. Caramel, chocolate and almond attributes were most frequently detected in coffees at different altitudes and processing. Therefore, pulped coffee processing was most suitable at low altitude while at high altitudes, both processes can be conducted to obtain a beverage with unusual sensory profile.