During the first week, the chemistry research group worked with three of the instruments in the St. Ambrose Chemistry Department. These techniques include atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS), ion chromatography (IC), and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). We then came up with several ideas for projects we might want to try using these techniques.
One morning Dr. Stratton walked into the conference room with Redband coffee in hand and several thoughts struck us. What causes flavor in coffee? What causes the aroma? What is the real difference between different roasts of coffee? We delved deeper into these questions, and researched publications on coffee and its components. Eventually, we decided that we would like to try to study the presence of 2-furfurylthiol (FFT), a compound known to cause the “roasty” flavor of coffee.
We will be using three roasts of coffee: light, medium, and dark roast coffee. Redband, the inspiration behind our aspirations, has graciously given us the opportunity to use their coffee beans in our research. We will be brewing our own coffee, and then we will extract the FFT using dichloromethane. After extracting the FFT, we will use GC-MS to analyze the amount of FFT in the samples of coffee. We will then compare all three roasts to see if darker roasts contain higher levels of FFT.
Coffee is a very essential part of many of our lives as college students. It has been our companion through those 8 am classes and the all-nighters. We hope you find this experiment as exciting (and pleasant-smelling) as we do! But remember, no drinking coffee in the lab!