Although the possible health benefits of coffee have increasingly become the focus of research in recent years, it remains undisputed that pollutants such as acrylamide and furan are also contained in coffee. However, the content of these pollutants can vary greatly.
A research team from the Institute for Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Braunschweig has investigated the extent to which the levels of acrylamide, furan and methylfuran in coffee depend on the type of coffee and the roasting process. The results were published in the specialist journal “Beverage Plant Research”.
Inconsistent rating of the coffee
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world and while its consumption has historically been associated primarily with health risks, numerous studies in recent years have shown health benefits of coffee consumption.
For example, coffee may protect against cardiovascular disease, lower the risk of diabetes and liver disease, and reduce the risk of premature death.
But pollutants such as acrylamide and furan, which are produced during roasting, also pose potential health risks, according to the research team. It is therefore worthwhile examining the options for reducing these two pollutants in coffee by changing the roasting parameters.
Pollutant content analyzed in coffee
The researchers analyzed the levels of acrylamide and furan derivatives in Vietnamese Robusta grade 2 coffee and Brazilian Arabica coffee (unwashed) with different roast profiles (tangential, drum and forced air roast) and roast degrees (light, medium and dark roast).
The acrylamide content was highest with the light roasts and then decreased with longer roasting times – in both the robusta and arabica samples, the team reports. On the other hand, the content of furan and methylfurans was lower in light roasts and reached a maximum in dark roasts.
Simultaneous reduction of pollutants impossible?
Although the study results show that the type of coffee and the roasting process have a significant influence on the content of these pollutants, a simultaneous reduction in acrylamide and furan/methylfuran by changing the roasting parameters seems impossible, according to the experts. Even special roasts such as double roasting or roasting with a sudden change in temperature would not have made any difference here.
Still, they believe the study results could have significant implications for the future of coffee production and pave the way for safer and healthier consumption practices. (fp)