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  • Nutrition Facts for Coffee: Coffee Carbohydrates

    It is difficult to imagine a world without coffee. To put it in microcosm, it is difficult to imagine having breakfast without coffee. From the time coffee replaced beer as New York City ’s preferred breakfast drink in 1668, coffee has become one of the most popular beverages in America and the world over. This popularity is due to its refreshing flavor and stimulating properties.

    We now know that the physiologically stimulating action of coffee comes from one of its non-volatile acids, caffeine. The rich, refreshing flavor comes from somewhere else. If you merely wanted the stimulation of caffeine, you could get it from some other kinds of drink. But you seek out coffee also for its flavor. And for that you must thank the carbohydrates in your coffee.

    We know a lot about the nutrition facts for Coffee Carbohydrates constitute the major part, at least 50% of the dry weight, of raw coffee beans. They also play the leading role that helps round out your coffee experience. They perform a variety of functions in the coffee bean — binding the aroma in the green bean until aroma is released when you brew the coffee; stabilizing the creamy foam; providing the viscosity and thickness to the brew that helps to improve its organoleptic quality, and forming sediments.

    Coffee Carbohydrate Research

    Research conducted on carbohydrates in coffee has given us a deeper understanding of their role:

    Coffee Carbohydrates as Aroma Binders

    Much of the flavor of coffee is bound in complex sugar molecules. These have been isolated in three particular sugar esters of volatile compounds found in coffee beans. The research studies to date show strong linkages to glycosidic compounds, particularly diterperiod glycosides.

    Coffee Carbohydrates and Their Role as a Foam Stabilizer

    Those fond of café espresso put great value on having persistent foam on the brew. The fine foam gives visual acceptability, which is its aesthetic appeal, and also holds for a while the volatilized aromas slowly released from the coffee, which is its olfactory use. Research studies have confirmed that the stability of foam is directly related to the quantity and type of polysaccharides that are extracted from the coffee granules.

    Studies on coffee compounds responsible for foam stability showed that foam stability occurs when the viscosity of galactomannan, a high molecular weight carbohydrate, increases in its liquid phase. Other related studies seem to indicate that roasting induced some linked action between polysaccharides, protein, and phenolic compounds in the beans.

    Carbohydrate Sediments

    Sediment formation occurs during processing of the fresh extract from roasted coffee. Studies have shown that the major component in these sediments is actually a polysaccharide, mannan, which appears to crystallize during processing and thus becomes insoluble.

    Despite a number of methods devised to extract the carbohydrates from the coffee bean, hot water extraction is still the most feasible process. However, the method can achieve maximum extraction rates of only 25-30% of total carbohydrates. This implies that a much bigger proportion of polysaccharides remain in the spent ground as waste, or at least as a major byproduct, of the soluble coffee industry.

    To give soluble coffee the flavor attributes of carbohydrates, producers have to add carbohydrates from non-coffee sources, usually cereal-based starches, ground chicory roots, and the like. This helps explain why the coffee that you brew from beans you roast and grind yourself gives the more authentic flavor of real coffee.

    Arya, Meenakshi and Rao, L. Jagan Mohan (2007) 'An Impression of Coffee Carbohydrates', Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 47:1, 51 - 67