Coffee is a very popular drink around the world. Not only does it provide a delicious taste, but also a distinctive and appetizing aroma. Thus, coffee has become a favorite in many parts of the world.

The distinctive aroma of coffee is one of the reasons why many people love this drink. But where does the aroma of coffee actually come from?

The answer can be found in chemistry. In this article, we will discuss how the aroma of coffee is formed and what makes it so distinctive.

Chemical Content of Coffee

Coffee contains over a thousand different chemical compounds, and some of them contribute to the aroma and flavor of coffee. Some of these compounds are chlorogenic acid, caffeine, malic acid, citric acid and phosphoric acid. However, the most important compounds in shaping the aroma of coffee are the volatile compounds.

According to the journal Agricultural and Food Chemistry published in 2008, volatile compounds are chemical compounds that easily evaporate at room temperature. When coffee beans are roasted, these volatile compounds are formed and produce the distinctive aroma of coffee. Some of the volatile compounds that are important in forming coffee aroma are methylpyrazine, furan and 2-phenylethanol acid.

In addition to volatile compounds, aromatic compounds such as pyridine, pyrazine and pyrrole also contribute to the aroma of coffee. In addition, the content of compounds that give coffee its aroma may vary depending on the type of coffee beans, post-harvest processing, roasting process, and the way the coffee is served.

Other Influencing Factors

Coffee aroma is also influenced by the environment in which it grows, such as soil type, climate and nutrients. In addition, the way coffee beans are harvested, stored and processed can also affect the flavor and aroma of coffee.

In a study published in 2022 in the journal Food Chemistry, researchers found that the compounds that give coffee its aroma can also be influenced by the type of coffee and the location where the beans are grown.

Then, in a study published in 2022 in the journal Earth and Environmental Science, researchers found that the roasting process of coffee beans has a significant effect on the content of compounds that give coffee its aroma. The longer the coffee beans are roasted, the more compounds are formed and the stronger the aroma of the resulting coffee.

Therefore, the roasting process also plays an important role in shaping the aroma of coffee. The roasting process makes the volatile compounds in the coffee beans undergo complex chemical reactions. Thus, the coffee beans produce and impart a bitter flavor.

Us and the Smell of Coffee

Apparently, the aroma of coffee can also affect one’s mood. Several studies have shown that coffee aroma can improve mood and cognitive performance.

A study conducted by a team of researchers from the Brain Sciences Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, showed that the aroma of coffee can affect gene activity in the brain and improve cognitive performance.

Researchers from PubMed Central who examined the Effect of Coffee Fragrance Inhalation in 2019 added, inhaling the aroma of coffee can also improve memory quality, thinking speed, and increase alertness, as well as improve mood.

However, why the aroma of coffee is so appealing to the human sense of smell is actually also based on the preference for the aroma of coffee itself, and the experience of exploring coffee over time.


Basically, the aroma of coffee is influenced by the complex chemical compounds in it. These chemical compounds are reactive when a treatment (roast & brew) is carried out, giving rise to the special aroma of the process.

Also, the variety and location where the coffee is grown affects the levels of chemical compounds contained in it. Therefore, each type of coffee has its own aroma.

If you want to know the types of coffee aroma, you can read more here.

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