How much acrylamide is in coffee?

In this text we will answer the question “how much acrylamide is in coffee”, in addition we will discuss a little about this substance and its relationship with human health.

How much acrylamide is in coffee?

The acrylamide content in roasted coffee beans varies within the range of 0.027- 0.609 mg of acrylamide per kg of coffee. already the acrylamide content in the final caffeinated coffee product or decaf varies from 0.5 – 4.21 μg per cup of coffee.

Since 2002, the food industry around the world has collaborated with scientists in order to reduce acrylamide levels in foods rich in carbohydrates when subjected to temperatures above 120°C. 

The formation of acrylamide is a part of the Maillard reaction that also generates aroma, flavor and color in a food, so it is difficult to find an effective acrylamide reduction method that does not affect the properties of food sensory. 

There are different strategies aimed at reducing the acrylamide in food. Firstly, the use of materials with low levels of precursors of acrylamide formation can be used to reduce its quantity in the final product.

 At the same time, the process conditions can be modified in order to decrease the amount of formation of acrylamide. Finally, post-process intervention can be used to reduce acrylamide.

What is acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a chemical compound that is white in color, odorless and generally crystalline in nature. It is industrially produced and used in products such as dyes, plastics, mortars, water treatment chemicals and cosmetics.

Acrylamide can be formed in certain carbohydrate-rich foods, cooked and processed at high temperatures, mainly in potato-based products (potato fries and chips), coffee, toast, cookies and breakfast cereals, but does not form, or forms into very low levels in dairy products, meat and fish.

How is acrylamide formed in food?

Acrylamide forms in food as a result of a reaction between an amino acid (asparagine) and sugars (glucose, fructose) – compounds that are naturally present in food.

 Acrylamide formation occurs as part of the Maillard reaction (chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually with the addition of heat), which leads to browning of cooked foods as well as the formation of off-flavors when frying, baking or cooking foods above 120°C. 

In coffee, acrylamide is formed in high concentrations during the first minutes of roasting,  resulting in levels of 7,000 ng/g. The increase in roasting time leads, however, to the

acrylamide degradation.

According to information from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), acrylamide has always been present in cooked foods. 

Acrylamide has been primarily documented in plant-based foods such as potato products, cereals, bread (such as toast), and coffee.

The contribution of coffee to total dietary acrylamide content varies widely. demographically, between 13% for the Netherlands, 14% for the United States, 29% for Norwegian adults and 39% for adult Swedes. 

These results indicate that for some populations the amount of acrylamide present in the coffee should be considered important.

How can acrylamide affect human health?

The main routes of human exposure are through ingestion of food and inhalation of cigarette smoke, but it can also occur from drinking water contaminated with during the use of flocculating polymers based on polyacrylamide, and by dermal contact with cosmetics, gardening products, pulp and paper, coatings and fabrics made from acrylamide.

Acrylamide has been shown to be carcinogenic in rats and mice and is therefore considered a potential carcinogen for humans. In 2005, a report by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert  Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that this substance was a human health concern and suggested additional long-term studies. 

In the state of California, acrylamide is on the PROPOR 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, such as birth defects and other reproductive harm.

Since the discovery of the presence of acrylamide in food, significant progress has been made in relation to the way this contaminant can affect human health. 

The neurotoxicity of acrylamide in humans is well documented through studies of occupational and accidental exposure. Additionally, experimental animal studies show genotoxic effects, carcinogens and reproduction

The fact is that acrylamide is not an intentional contaminant that has immediately after exposure. It is difficult to quantify the health risk from a contaminant resulting from reactions between nutrients, which is being ingested for several decades.


By reading the text we can infer that the acrylamide content in roasted coffee beans varies in the range of 0.027-0.609 mg of acrylamide per kg of coffee and varies from 0.5 to 4.21 μg per cup of coffee. 

In addition, we realize that acrylamide is formed naturally in foods that undergo temperature increases during preparation.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.