Assessing Polyphenols Content and Antioxidant Activity in Coffee Beans According to Origin and the Degree of Roasting

Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2017;68(4):347-353.


Background: The roasting stage constitutes a key component in the manufacturing process of natural coffee because temperature elicits changes in bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and that Maillard-reaction compounds appear, thus affecting the product’s sensory and antioxidant properties. Actual contents of these compounds may depend on which region the coffee is cultivated as well as the extent to which the beans are roasted

Objectives: To determine polyphenols content and antioxidant activity in the ‘Arabica’ coffee type coming from various world regions of its cultivation and which have undergone industrial roasting. Also to establish which coffee, taking into account the degree of roasting (ie. light, medium and strong), is nutritionally the most beneficial

Materials and methods: The study material was natural coffee beans (100% Arabica) roasted to various degrees, as aforementioned, that had been cultivated in Brazil, Ethiopia, Columbia and India. Polyphenols were measured in the coffee beans by spectrophotometric means based on the Folin-Ciocalteu reaction, whereas antioxidant activity was measured colourimetrically using ABTS+ cat-ionic radicals

Results: Polyphenol content and antioxidant activity were found to depend both on the coffee’s origin and degree of roasting. Longer roasting times resulted in greater polyphenol degradation. The highest polyphenol concentrations were found in lightly roasted coffee, ranging 39.27 to 43.0 mg/g, whereas levels in medium and strongly roasted coffee respectively ranged 34.06 to 38.43 mg/g and 29.21 to 36.89 mg/g. Antioxidant activity however significantly rose with the degree of roasting, where strongly roasted coffee had higher such activity than lightly roasted coffee. This can be explained by the formation of Maillard-reaction compounds during roasting, leading then to the formation of antioxidant melanoidin compounds which, to a large extent, compensate for the decrease in polyphenols during roasting

Conclusions: Polyphenols levels and antioxidant activities in the studied Arabica coffee beans that had undergone roasting depended on the cultivation region of the world. Longer roasting caused a significant decline in polyphenols compound levels (from 7.3% to 32.1%) in the coffee beans. Antioxidant activities of coffee increased with roasting, despite reduced levels of natural antioxidants. From a nutritional standpoint, the most favoured coffees are those lightly or medium roasted

Keywords: coffee; polyphenols; antioxidant activity; Arabica; roasting.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Coffea / chemistry*
  • Coffea / classification
  • Coffee / chemistry*
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Polyphenols / analysis*
  • Seeds / chemistry


  • Antioxidants
  • Coffee
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Polyphenols