Ripped from recent headlines “Coffee Causes Cancer”. Say it ain’t so!
I thought I might answer the Questions. What is acrylamide and why is it in coffee? But first I wanted to give you a quick sense of proportion. In case you didn't know, Acrylamide occurs in other finished food products as well.
Here are just a few to give you some perspective:
If you did not know, this is not a national requirement. This is a judicial decision based on a proposition passed in California in 1986.
With that sense of proportion, we can can discuss what is really going on with coffee. Acrylamide is not naturally occurring in coffee beans or in various other food products either. Acrylamide is a byproduct of cooking, such as in the case of coffee beans, through coffee roasting.Keep in mind to, that the Acrylamide is also diluted when brewed, so the amount that is actual digested might only be 5 to 10 ppb. [ a quarter of a slice of bread]. Welcome to California.
Coffee is a thermally charged beverage. It must be roasted before it can be used for brewing. During the process of roasting coffee, chemicals changes occur to the coffee bean. Once the existing moisture that is in the coffee bean is removed during the earlier phases of roasting, the coffee bean begins a series of chemical reactions that will continue until the roast is completed. The is process is called the Maillard reaction.
The Maillard reaction, which occurs in many, many, food products is the breakdown of amino acids and other chemical constituents within the coffee bean. The Maillard reaction is the reason that the raw coffee bean, which started out green prior to roasting, and will undergo several color changes, before it arrives at the brown color we associate with coffee.
Moreover, the The Maillard reaction is also responsible for unlocking many of the 700 plus flavor compounds trapped inside that coffee bean. Without the roasting, the coffee we enjoy today would simply not be possible, much like the oven is required for baked goods and the grill for meat. Coffee must be thermally charged.
Now, for those that have never seen coffee roasted, think of cooking meat. As meat cooks, the Maillard reaction take places and the meat browns. The same can be true of potato chips and baked goods to name a few. Acrylamide is not a chemical coffee roasters add to coffee beans. Rather acrylamide is a chemical reaction to heat with the chemical components in the coffee bean.
So, if roasting causes Acrylamide to form, can’t roasters just roast for shorter periods of time in order to lessen the amount of Acrylamide. Well, the trend in coffee roasting has been just that, there is an industry wide move to shorter duration and lighter roasts, but that is more of a problem that a solution. It might seem counter intuitive, but acrylamide, which is a byproduct of roasting can also be degraded by roasting coffee longer.
If you are familiar with Mavericks coffee, you are probably thinking, “wait a minute your guys slow roast. How does slow roasting affect Acrylamide levels?”. We have had that same thought.
From our perspective, this is another win for our commitment to slow roasting. The scientific research has already been done. The FDA has already pointed out that Acrylamide levels decline over time during longer roasts. The scientific Journals have made similar observations. The data shows darker roasts coffee have less Acrylamide than light roasts, because darker roasts are roasted longer.
But as our habit is at Mavericks, we will have an independent third party laboratory test our coffee. We will post the laboratory results our our website for all to see. Stay tuned for that.
Does coffee cause cancer, anything is possible, but recent studies have shown that drinking 4 cups of coffee can be very good for your health. A fact that I am not so sure could be said for eating 4 bags of chips or 4 bags of fries every day.
So what is all the fuss about coffee and cancer. I like to think of things this way.“Science does not say anything. Scientists do”. Simply put, data is produced by science, but conclusions are drawn by people.