Coffee is an important crop that provides a livelihood to millions of people living in developing countries. Production of genotypes with improved coffee quality attributes is a primary target of coffee genetic improvement programs. Advances in genomics are providing new tools for analysis of coffee quality at the molecular level. The recent report of a genomic sequence for robusta coffee, Coffea canephora, is a major development. However, a reference genome sequence for the genetically more complex arabica coffee (C. arabica) will also be required to fully define the molecular determinants controlling quality in coffee produced from this high quality coffee species. Genes responsible for control of the levels of the major biochemical components in the coffee bean that are known to be important in determining coffee quality can now be identified by association analysis. However, the narrow genetic base of arabica coffee suggests that genomics analysis of the wild relatives of coffee (Coffea spp.) may be required to find the phenotypic diversity required for effective association genetic analysis. The genomic resources available for the study of coffee quality are described and the potential for the application of next generation sequencing and association genetic analysis to advance coffee quality research are explored.
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