12 January - 20 June 2016

A review of research on coffee flavour

18 June 14

A recent review article published in Food Research International summarises the latest research on what produces flavour and other sensory attributes of Arabica coffee. Researchers from the University of Queensland, University of Brawijaya and Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry focused particularly on associations between the chemical components (volatile and non-volatile) of coffee and its sensory qualities, and on the effect of particular processes involved in coffee preparation.

Taking data from 34 previous studies (published 1970 - 2013), the authors identified 72 key odorant compounds contributing to Arabica coffee flavour, including 14 pyrazines, 10 aldehydes, 9 furans, 7 ketones and 6 furanones. Of the 72 compounds studied in the literature, 44 had been linked to particular flavour notes, ranging from flowery or fruity to minty, sweaty, cabbage- or mushroom-like.

The second main focus of the review was the crucial flavour effects of roasting, grinding and brewing coffee. Roasting was noted as the most significant of the three in terms of flavour, and key points about the differing effect of light, medium and dark roasting was identified. Light roasting was described as leading to sweet, cocoa and nutty aromas and dark to acrid, ashy and sour qualities, whilst the complex effects of a medium roast were noted as being particularly suited to bringing out regional flavour variations.

Information about the sensory effect of different initial processing methods was also extracted from the collection of studies. The conclusions drawn from a small collection of papers on this theme were that 'wet' processing (where the coffee fruit is removed before drying) produced the best quality flavour, with attributes of less "body", higher acidity and more aroma. 'Dry' processing - which differs from 'wet' in the pulping, fermentation and washing stages - led to "medicinal" flavour notes; and 'semi-dry' processing to qualities intermediate between the two.

It was noted that studies correlating information from olfactory or sensory panel analysis with physicochemical data were scarce, and that there was much scope in this area for further research, particularly given the complexity of the matrix, its ability to interact with volatiles affecting perceived flavour, and the potentially commercially valuable use of such research in optimising desirable flavour outcomes.

share this article
RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry