We continue to look for the best coffees and we’re always researching ways to make our coffee even healthier. The deeper we go, the more we understand that coffee is extremely complex, and various beneficial compounds can be created and destroyed at different roast levels.
It is not roasted so dark as to produce unhealthy levels of PAH, because we take the coffee out before it reaches the temperature cited in the scientific literature where PAH begins to form rapidly. Our EASE dark roast follows a profile laid out in the scientific literature and hits several points that have been proven to be critical. Generally, throughout the literature, dark roast appears to be an appropriate choice for individuals with digestive issues and seems to have positive effects on the brain.
When comparing Purity Dark Roast to Purity Original, here are a few points to consider:
There are many ways roasters describe a coffee's color, and most terms are not precise, but rather suggestive.
Purity FLOW is a medium roast, which is a bit darker than the industry's sample roast level to evaluate (or "cup") specialty coffee. Purity EASE is darker than medium, and what some might say is a "Full City" roast. It is not as dark as what many consider Italian or French roast.
Melanoidins are what make coffee (and foods) brown when roasted, baked or toasted. Coffee melanoidins may enhance immune-stimulating properties, serve as dietary fiber, and may contribute to reducing the risk of colon cancer.
They are formed during the Maillard reaction, when sugars and amino acids combine at high temperatures and low water activity. They may be considered bioactive compounds (Bekedam, E.K., et. al., 2008). The extent of roasting-induced antioxidant formation is directly linked to the extent of melanoidin formation, and the longer we roast, the more intermediate and high-molecular-weight melanoidins are produced.
Impacts / Actions: Antioxidant activity, metal-chelating, antibacterial, prebiotic functionality
Trigonelline is a plant hormone, one of the more abundant sources of nitrogen in green coffee, and a product of niacin metabolism. Green coffees contain about 1% trigonelline, of which 50-80% is degraded upon roasting, and it breaks down to niacin and nicotinic acid and N-methylpyridinium at higher temperatures, as well as volatiles such as pyridine and pyrazines. Trigonelline plus nicotinic acid helps regulation of liver enzymes, which is closely related to the suppression of triglyceride accumulation as well as progression of diabetes.
Impacts / Actions: Antioxidant activity, anti-tumorigenic, anticarcinogenic,anticariogenic, antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic.
NOTE: Volumes have been written about trigonelline, but for this paper the research purpose was the relationship between dark roasting and trigonelline. Trigonelline is an effective compound in prevention of diabetes and related kidney diseases (Virtanen, 2019). The content of trigonelline decreases continuously throughout roasting, while nicotinic acid and N-methylpyridinium increases, with N-methylpyridinium being the major thermal product up to the dark-medium roast, similar to the Purity Dark Roast.
N-methylpyridinium is formed during roasting from trigonelline as a non-volatile degradation product. While small amounts of trigonelline and nicotinic acid are present in many foods other than coffee, the occurrence of N-methylpyridinium in our daily diet seems to be restricted to roasted coffee (Viera, 2019).
Impacts / Actions: Antioxidant activity, lower stimulatory effect on gastric acid secretions, possibly assists in weight control, anticarcinogenic (possibly with colon cancer), DNA protective effects.
Chlorogenic acid lactones (CGL) are bitter compounds with antioxidant capacity created during the coffee roasting process from dehydration of chlorogenic acids (CGA).The maximum amount of CGL represents approximately 30% of the available original CGA amount (Farah, 2005).
Impacts / Actions: Antioxidant activity, possible anti-opioid activity, hypoglycemic, and potential effects on brain function independent of the pharmacological effects of caffeine.
Roasted coffee is the major known food source of norharman and harman β-carbolines. Considered mostly as neuroactive substances with a wide spectrum of reported pharmacological and neuroactive actions, binding to many receptors in the brain, including opiate, and frequently act as inhibitors to regulate neurotransmitters. They are MAO inhibitors, being increasingly associated with a beneficial effect in Parkinson disease. Their health effects are being extensively studied.
Impacts / Actions: Antioxidant activity, possible anti-opioid activity, hypoglycemic, antidepressant. Reduced rate of development of Parkinson’s disease (Ascherio, 2004).
The literature clearly states more research needs to be done in humans on these issues. There are so many studies, that we have the potential either to refine the dark roast to match future literature, or come up with an additional roast based on findings by the researchers. In particular, because norharman and harman β-carbolines and N-methylpyridinium are unique in coffee, these may yield more information in the areas of mental health and gastro-intestinal benefits, respectively.
A vast number of papers have been written on coffee’s impact on the brain and mental health. Coffee can influence cognitive functioning, improve memory and protect the brain’s oxidative system. Some of this is roast-level dependent. Purity Coffee will continue to explore how:
As more people choose to buy coffee for health, we are eager to learn more about coffee’s possibilities. Outside of the decisions we’ve made, there are so many things at play that we still don’t know, and scientists continue to provide insights. Here are our top take-aways: