Aroma of Organic Coffee

Just what is responsible for the wonderful aroma of organic coffee? Volatile aromatic compounds in healthy organic coffee are responsible for the aroma that helps wake us up each morning and gives us a boost during the day. Interestingly most of these compounds and much of the aroma of organic coffee is lost in making instant coffee. So, even though one can purchase instant organic coffee, the aroma is sadly missing. The taste of sweet versus sour or bitter versus salty comes from the tongue. However, much of what we perceive as taste is heavily influenced by the aroma of what we eat or drink, including the organic coffee in our cup every morning. This is because we experience smells (aroma) two different ways. What is obvious to everyone is that we sense aromas in the air that passes into our nose. However, we also sense aromas from food and drink that pass through the back of the throat. This retro-nasal sense of smell picks up drink and food at a much closer range and can be a much more powerful factor in our sense of smell.

Just how many compounds contribute to the aroma of organic coffee? Research has indicted close to a thousand different aromatic compounds in roasted and brewed coffee. The ability to sense the presence of an aromatic compound depends upon how much is present, its concentration, and how much is required to cause the lining of the upper part of the nose, the olfactory epithelium, to note its presence and send a signal to the brain. This later factor is referred to as the odor threshold of a compound. The general consensus of researchers is that several volatile organic compounds in high concentration in authentic organic coffee and with low odor thresholds are responsible for the aroma of organic coffee or regular coffee.

The chemistry of just how volatile organic compounds contribute to the aroma of organic coffee is complex. Many aromatic compounds as well organic coffee antioxidants are present in the coffee bean when it is picked. However, it is roasting that converts chemicals in the coffee bean by breaking them down into constituents or combining them with other chemicals. The list of amino acids, phenols, hydroxyl-acids, phenolic acids, alicyclic compounds, 70 pyrazines, heterocyclic compounds, sugars, and lipids as well as the list of interactions between compounds is something that only an organic chemist could love.

The descriptions of the aroma of organic coffee sound like those of a wine connoisseur. There are no fruits or nuts in Panama mountain grown organic coffee , for example. However, such award winning coffee may be described as having a honey-like, buttery, spicy, caramel like, or fruity aroma. This aroma of organic coffee comes from specific volatile organic compounds present in coffee when grown or produced during roasting. A compound known as 4-Vinylguaiacol is typically responsible for a spicy aroma while 4-Hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl- 3(2H)-furanone is responsible for a caramel like aroma. Not surprisingly an aroma of vanilla comes from a chemical called Vanillin. Unless you are an aspiring organic chemist you can ignore the chemistry involved. Here are the take home points. If you like the aroma of organic coffee, skip the instant. If you like a stronger, caramel-like, and roasted aroma, go with a longer roasting process. And remember, there is no perfect aroma or combination of volatile chemicals in coffee that we should all prefer. People experience aromas differently. The sense of aroma starts when volatile compounds touch the olfactory lining the sense of aroma. The complex experience of mixed aromas is experienced in the brain. Having said that, buy organic coffee , enjoy organic coffee, and save the planet.

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