Food & function

Characterization of the polymerization of furfuryl alcohol during roasting of coffee.

PMID 22785445


The polymerization of furfuryl alcohol contributes to the formation of the brown colour in heated foods, in addition to the Maillard and caramelization reactions. During the heating of food, furfuryl alcohol is formed via the degradation of quinic acid or 1,2-enediols. Furfuryl alcohol is a mutagenic compound. In acidic conditions it is able to polymerize and form aliphatic polymers that show a brown colour. Herein we show that furfuryl alcohol polymerizes in a model system by incubating it in 1 M HCl at room temperature. Some of the reaction products are dimers, trimers, tetramers, and pentamers with methylene linkages. The degree of polymerization and the amount of those furfuryl alcohol oligomers increased with increasing reaction time. The results of this model system were used to characterize the polymerization of furfuryl alcohol which is produced during roasting of coffee. The coffee was roasted at 210 °C for 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 min with a home coffee roaster. Furfuryl alcohol and its dimer were found in roasted coffee after 2 and 3 min of roasting respectively, reaching a maximum amount after 4 min. Perhaps due to further reactions, the dimeric furfuryl alcohol concentration starts to decrease after 4 min. We propose that the polymers of furfuryl alcohol contribute to the brown colour of roasted foods.

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