Anyone who starts each morning by starting the brewer knows that this coffee can vary wildly in aroma and flavor. Coffee contains an incredible amount of chemicals, but the majority of coffee lovers are in the dark about what makes this brewed beverage so complex and so tasty. Coffee goes through several processes before it is even ready to be brewed and enjoyed, but the natural chemicals play a large part in the outcome. CoffeeCow is diving deep into the chemistry behind coffee to discover compounds that affect the overall taste and body of that first cup of the day.

When coffee was first discovered, it was originally used for religious practices and was thought to have medicinal properties. Today, coffee has an inconsistent reputation. Scientific studies seem to teeter between coffee’s positive and negative health effects. Among thousands of chemicals in an average cup of coffee, there are several chemicals that play large roles in taste and potential health benefits.


Perhaps the best-known chemical in coffee is caffeine. This natural stimulant blocks effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired. Caffeine has also been known to boost adrenaline and increase dopamine or norepinephrine activity in the brain. Adding to the list of potential health benefits, caffeine can even enhance awareness and improve long-term memory.

Chlorogenic Acids

Chlorogenic acids are phenolic compounds that have been linked to lower risks of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Researchers suggest that these esters contain psychostimulatory effects about a third as potent as caffeine, but the amount can vary from batch to batch. Robusta beans contain higher amounts of chlorogenic acids.

Kahweol and Cafestol

Dipertenes such as kahweol and cafestol contribute to the bitter taste of coffee. Because they can affect intestine activity and blood cholesterol levels, these substances are often trapped by coffee filters during the brewing process. However, they have also been linked to preventing cancer cells.

Antioxidant Compounds

Coffee is rich in antioxidants such as eugenol, gamma-tocopherol, isoeugenol, and so much more. Plants produce antioxidants to protect their cells from premature destruction from exposure to heat, light, air, moisture, and time, which makes an awful lot of sense for fragile Arabica beans. Antioxidants are especially useful against aging, stress, and many kinds of diseases.

While roasting, the active sugars and fats in coffee start to decrease while amino acids and sugars mingle to create unique chain reactions just beneath the surface. As a result, aldehydes, ketones, lactones, esters, and other aromatic compounds join to create a complex bouquet. Grinding and brewing also play a large part in the chemistry behind coffee. Have questions? Feel free to contact one of our friendly representatives for additional information.