Numerous studies have shown the the benefits of coffee. Science studies go back and forth on foods so use some judgment but generally today it is considered one of the best sources of the antioxidants that protect us against pesky free radicals that can cause premature aging and certain diseases. Coffee has an antioxidant capacity which is ten times higher than other drinks(1) known for their antioxidant properties, such as tea or red wine.

But if you truly want to optimize your coffee intake (you know, for your health) Torrefacto-roasted coffee has higher antioxidant properties than other roasts, according to biologist Isabel López Galilea, who defended her dissertation at the University of Navarra on the subject. Oh, and drink espresso versions of it.

Terrefacto is created by making a medium to dark roast after which the coffee beans are placed in caramelized sugar. The sugar coats the beans and turns them black. It is common in Spain and some parts of Asia.

Isabel López Galilea

Someone in Spain writes about this coffee every few years, because it is so common there and they know we all need more global reasons to drink coffee. López herself participated in a study a few years ago on the topic as a grad student (see Additional Reference) that was part of the foundation of this dissertation. Her recent work focused on discovering that optimizing sugar content during the roasting process is crucial to the development of compounds with the highest antioxidants.

The importance of coffee can't be overstated and since I know coffee is important to everyone reading this article, I am excerpting this part of The Assault On Coffee, in case you need more reasons to drink it.

Coffee is healthy:

Coffee Makes Us Want To Be Worthy Of It:

Vietnam coffee short of world standards, admits industry

Coffee Makes Us Love Each Other:

Coffee Improves Race Relations:

Coffee: Strong and dark is better?

Coffee Protects Us:

Coffee could provide shield from radiation

Coffee Is Good For The Global Economy:

  • Trademarking Coffee: Starbucks cuts Ethiopia deal
  • McDonald's serves ethically sourced coffee
  • Buy Cat Poop Coffee For $420 per pound
  • Back to López and her disseration, she tested eleven varieties of commercial coffee and demonstrated that both the compounds in coffee and the nuances of its aroma are impacted both by the roasting and brewing methods. She identified 34 volatile compounds which impact coffee aroma and even found some new ones related to octanol, which produces an orange flavor.

    Since brewed coffee is most common, she also examined antioxidant properties by method of preparation. She discovered that espresso machines produce coffee with the highest antioxidant capacity. She says this may be due to polyphenic compounds, caffeine and brown compounds(2) in the various brews.

    So coffee is good, Torrefacto coffee is better and espresso brewing is best of all. I am off to have some. I am only missing the Torrefacto and espresso parts.


    (1) Borrelli, R. C., Visconti, A., Mennella, C., Anese, M., Fogliano, V., Chemical characterization and antioxidant properties of coffee melanoidins, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2002 (Vol. 50) (No. 22) 6527-6533

    (2) Fernando M. Nunes and Manuel A. Coimbra, Chemical Characterization of the High Molecular Weight Material Extracted with Hot Water from Green and Roasted Arabica Coffee, J. Agric. Food Chem., 49 (4), 1773 -1782, 2001. 10.1021/jf0012953

    Additional references:

    Isabel López-Galilea, Susana Andueza, Isabella di Leonardo, M. Paz de Peña, Concepción Cid, Influence of torrefacto roast on antioxidant and pro-oxidant activity of coffee. Food Chemistry Volume 94, Issue 1, January 2006, Pages 75-80 doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2004.10.052

    A. Montilla, A.I. Ruiz-Matute, M.L. Sanz, I. Martínez-Castrob, M.D. del Castillo, Difructose anhydrides as quality markers of honey and coffee, Food Research International Volume 39, Issue 7, August 2006, Pages 801-806 doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2006.03.002

    M. C. Nicolia, M. Aneseb, L. Manzoccoa, C. R. Lericia, Antioxidant Properties of Coffee Brews in Relation to the Roasting Degree, Lebensmittel-Wissenschaft und-Technologie Volume 30, Issue 3, May 1997, Pages 292-297, doi:10.1006/fstl.1996.0181