[caption id="attachment_855" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Compounds in the espresso roasting process"][/caption]

Who knew there was so much science to your morning beverage?

[T]he chemical roasting reactions take place between 160 and 240 °C in tens of thousands of mini-autoclaves. It should come as no surprise that, under these harsh conditions, thousands of new compounds are produced in the course of thermal decomposition of the over 700 so far identified components of green coffee beans, as well as of the many polymeric storage and skeletal components. From a chemical standpoint, coffee is actually the most complex beverage we consume.

But the chemical processes occurring in an espresso machine are even more complex. During the brief extraction period, equilibrium cannot be established between the phases, and only 75 % of the highly soluble caffeine is extracted. This incomplete extraction would at first appear to be a shortcoming, but in fact perfection lies in this defect: many components with undesirable sensory effects are left behind, as a result of which espresso is more readily digestible than ordinary brewed filter coffee.

The English version of the paper, by Prof. Klaus Roth of Freie Universität Berlin, is here. For the pointer I thank John D. Cook.

For more coffee chemistry and nerd fun, see the first 70 seconds or so of the video below: