top of page

What is acrylamide? And Why Is It Important For Coffee?

Acrylamide is found in all coffees as an inevitable product of the Maillard reaction, that marvelous process that causes the sugars and amino acids in food to turn into the brown, deliciously toasty-brown we find in the crust of the bread, the roasted sides of a steak. , a crispy french fries or potato chips and of course roasted coffee beans. The Maillard reaction produces all those exciting aroma compounds we love in coffee, and it also produces acrylamide. Acrylamide levels peak early in the roasting/Maillard process, but then begin to decline with continued application of heat. Therefore, dark roast coffee may paradoxically contain less acrylamide than lighter roast coffees. The many health benefits of coffee, many of which are considered anti-cancer due to its high concentration of chlorogenic acid and other antioxidants, argue that coffee consumption is generally good for health and longevity, not bad. All in all, coffee looks like a clear winner, at least when it comes to cancer. Darker roasted coffees are thought to contain less acrylamide than lighter roasts, while higher quality Arabica coffees that are roasted at high temperatures and brewed in a shorter time are thought to contain less acrylamide. On the other side of the spectrum, instant coffees have been found to contain much more acrylamide than conventionally brewed coffees. However, there is no data yet to determine whether next-generation instant coffees are so sensitive to increased amounts from their processing. Reducing acrylamide in conventionally roasted and brewed coffees requires further study, as the effect of other types of roasting will almost certainly change the properties today's consumers desire in the final cup.


bottom of page