Analyzing Coffee for Furan with HS-GC-VUV

Coffee is a drink consumed by people all over the world. The blend of coffee - be it dark, medium or light - is all down to the roast. Green coffee beans are transformed with roasting to become the traditional black beans seen in coffee shops and stores. These beans are then ground and mixed with hot water to extract the vibrant compounds and make the cup of coffee that is enjoyed by all.

Health Effects of Coffee Compounds

With an aroma consisting of over 1,000 chemical compounds, coffee is unsurprisingly a very active area of food chemistry research. Of particular importance are studies looking into the health effects of coffee compounds. One such aromatic compound is furan which is toxic, a pollutant, and potentially carcinogenic for humans. It is created when coffee beans are roasted and can remain in beans and ground coffee. Interestingly, while the levels are still considered safe for consumption, more furan is found in coffees made from expresso and coffee-capsule machines compared to traditional drip coffee makers.

Experiment

In this experiment, ground coffee was screened for furan with static headspace – gas chromatography – vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy (HS-GC-VUV).

Figure 1 shows a HS-GC-VUV chromatogram, rich with volatile organic compounds, including furan, which is present along with additional furan compounds such as 2-methylfuran and 2,5-dimethylfuran.

The VUV absorbance spectra of the furan compounds are shown in Figure 2. The strong absorbance features in the 180-240 nm wavelength range mean that the furan compounds are distinct from one another, and from other compounds in coffee.

HS-GC-VUV chromatogram of coffee grounds, showing a subset of volatile organic peaks identified by their absorbance spectra.

Figure 1. HS-GC-VUV chromatogram of coffee grounds, showing a subset of volatile organic peaks identified by their absorbance spectra.

Vacuum ultraviolet absorbance spectra of Furan, 2-Methylfuran, and 2,5-Dimethylfuran, compounds that occur in ground coffee. Their spectra are are easily discernible from one another, while also having similar features that help class them as furans.

Figure 2. Vacuum ultraviolet absorbance spectra of Furan, 2-Methylfuran, and 2,5-Dimethylfuran, compounds that occur in ground coffee. Their spectra are are easily discernible from one another, while also having similar features that help class them as furans.

This demonstrates that GC-VUV can identify furan as well as a variety of other compounds present in ground coffee.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by VUV Analytics.

For more information on this source, please visit VUV Analytics.

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