This study investigates applications and performance evaluation of SLB-IL60, SLB-IL76 and SLB-IL111 columns, in relation to a DB-Wax column, for the analysis of coffee volatile compounds. Both standards and an authentic coffee sample were analysed, with solid-phase microextraction (SPME) sampling of the latter. A cryofocusing method was applied to improve resolution of the earliest eluting peaks using splitless injection SPME sample analysis. The Grob test was used to verify the inertness and efficiency of the columns, helping to understand the interactions between analytes and stationary phases, particularly toward more polar coffee analytes. A DB-5 column was used only in analysis of n-alkanes and Grob test mixtures as an apolar reference. The evaluated ionic liquid columns showed a moderate acid-base character and low inertness for compounds with hydrogen bond capabilities, especially for the hydroxylated analytes, 2,3-butanediol in the Grob test, and furanones and acids in the coffee standards. The columns exhibiting the best resolution and efficiency were DB-Wax and SLB-IL60, both for samples and standards. Although the DB-Wax column is preferred for analysis of coffee volatiles, due to better inertness, the evaluated ionic liquid columns allowed identification of compounds that were not observed in separations with the Wax-phase column in this work. Among these compounds is 3,4-dimethyl-2,5-furandione, seldom reported in the literature of coffee. Proposed improvement by the manufacturer in the inertness of the columns evaluated in this study may lead to better results; so future versions of IL phases may be better applied in the separation of target analytes, especially those with basic character. Graphical abstract Illustrative representation of the sample (coffee) and the chemical structures of the stationary phases of the ionic liquid capillary columns used as object of study in the present work.