COFFEE is responsible for as much as a third of daily consumption of the cancer-causing chemical acrylamide, research by the United Nations has found.¹ The study by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organisation used data from 17 countries. It doesn't take the fun out of "Tueste Artesanal" coffee from Cofesa, a Spanish natural roasted coffee bean sold in Cashel. I buy this bean, grind it religiously, and enjoy two to five cups a day.
The UN study reveals that coffee may give those who drink it anything from 13% to 39% of the acrylamide they consume--only chips and crisps are responsible for greater quantities on average. Astute readers can rightly conclude that cancer comes from more than one brand of coffee, not just from the four brands of coffee I reguarly drink.
Acrylamide is produced during cooking, particularly high-temperature processes such as frying and roasting. Some of the high-fat levels are found in chips, crisps, biscuits, and bread. It has now emerged that roasting coffee beans also produces significant amounts.
Research has established that acrylamide levels peak in medium-roast coffee, are lower in the half-roast variety and drop off when beans are dark roast.
¹Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Tom Baird -- "Cancer chemical found in coffee" in The Sunday Times, January 15, 2006.