Large differences in seed desiccation sensitivity have been observed previously among ten coffee species (Coffea arabica, C. brevipes, C. canephora, C. eugenioides, C. humilis, C. liberica, C. pocsii, C. pseudo-zanguebariae, C. sessiliflora and C.stenophylla). Of these species, C. liberica and C. humilis were the most sensitive to desiccation and C. pseudozanguebariae the most tolerant. A study was carried out using the same seed lots to investigate if these differences in desiccation tolerance could be correlated with differences in soluble sugar content. Soluble sugars were extracted from dry seeds and analysed using high performance liquid chromatography. The seed monosaccharide (glucose and fructose) content was very low (1.5 to 2 mg g-1dry weight [dw]) in all species studied. The sucrose content ranged from 33 mg g-1dw in C. liberica seeds to 89 mg g-1dw in seeds of C. pocsii. Raffinose was detected in the seeds of only five species (C.arabica, C.brevipes, C.humilis, C.sessiliflora, C.stenophylla), among which only three species (C.arabica, C.sessiliflora and C.brevipes) also contained stachyose. Both raffinose and stachyose were present in very low quantities (0.3–1.4 mg g-1dw and 0.1–0.7 mg g-1dw, respectively). Verbascose was never detected. No significant relationship was found between seed desiccation sensitivity and: (i) the sugar content; (ii) the presence/absence of oligosaccharides; and (iii) the oligosaccharide:sucrose ratio.