T 0.01 Phenotype vs. Genotype

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Terroir The character of the land and the farming environment. Environmental factors such as altitude, latitude, climate, soil condition, and farming practices affect a crop’s phenotype.

Phenotype The observable characteristics of an organism in a given terroir, resulting from the interaction of an organism’s genotype (genetic code) and the terroir.

Genotype The chemical composition of DNA that gives rise to a particular phenotype; the genetic code for a particular trait.


Great coffee is the result of a plant’s genotype and the terroir that surrounds it. The environmental factors of climate, soil, and farming techniques combine to create the terroir of a coffee farm. This course explores how the terroir determines the character of a coffee and the success of a crop. Among all the environmental factors that could affect a coffee plant in its lifetime, some, such as altitude, are impossible to alter. Others, such as soil nutrition, can be altered, but only with vast capital expenditure. To get a clearer picture of how expensive farm management can be and how certain aspects of terroir can affect a plant’s phenotype, we conducted a broad range of interviews with scientists, agronomists and green buyers.

This course provides an overview of what factors you can control and how it can be done to produce a sustainable crop and a great tasting cup.


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