Aroma Compounds in Coffee…there are at least 318

Do you know your nose?

Well did you know your nose smells about 318 chemical components in the coffee you drink?

In spite of the fact that 318 constituents are known in coffee volatiles, it has not yet been possible to reconstitute a complete coffee aroma. Some reasons for this (which apply to most complex flavours and aromas) are:

  • no single component responsible for the aroma of coffee has yet been found
  • problems of aroma component stability have not been solved, and
  • it is likely that important aroma components remain to be detected and identified.

There have been additional studies undertaken to determine the importance of non-volatile compounds to the
flavour of coffee. Non-volatile acids, both phenolic and non-phenolic, are reported to be important in the flavour along with non-volatile products from the Maillard browning reactions.

Over 1800 components have been identified in coffee through mass and infrared spectra, GLC retention times, synthetic methods, but even with these methods, they have not been able to isolate a single chemical that has that complete coffee aroma.

So what is that smell when you open up a can or jar of coffee? Probably it is furfuryl mercaptan. This component is the most popular when used in packaging coffee. It reacts well with oxygen at room temperature and gives a fresh coffee smell. Unfortunately smelling it does not mean your coffee is fresh it was probably added into the packaging with some Nobel gas.

Food for thought?

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