What is the healthiest coffee to drink?

In this brief text we will answer the question “What is the healthiest coffee to drink?” and will discuss some topics related to this theme. In addition, we will discuss which compounds in coffee have a beneficial effect on health.

What is the healthiest coffee to drink?

In general, coffees with a medium roast are healthier when compared to coffees with a dark roast. However, we are going to discuss several factors throughout this text on how to make coffee as healthy as possible..

In addition to essential nutrients for life, food has bioactive compounds, which promote health benefits and decrease the risk of developing diseases. Vitamins and phenolic compounds, for example, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hypocholesterolemic activity.

The antioxidant defense system is formed by enzymatic compounds and non-enzymatic, present either in the organism (located inside the cells or in the blood circulation) as in ingested food.

Compounds of an antioxidant nature, naturally present in food and in by-products have aroused interest due to their beneficial effects on health and well-being, also acting in the prevention of diseases.

However, the answer to this question will depend on many factors.

Which compounds in coffee have a beneficial effect on health?

Methylxanthines are compounds that exert biological action essential in our metabolism. Caffeine is part of this group. Caffeine has a high antioxidant capacity similar to glutathione and superior to ascorbic acid. Coffee is the food that contributes most to caffeine intake due to its high consumption worldwide.

Another compound with high biological capacity is trigonelline, a N-methyl betaine, which is one of the main components of raw coffee. In contrast to caffeine, trigonelline is widely distributed in the plant kingdom and among its biological activities, it can be highlighted as an anticancer and against tooth decay.

For several years, the physiological effects of coffee have been focused on respective caffeine content, ignoring other bioactive components present in the coffee, such as polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are sources of dietary fiber and have immunostimulating properties. 

Raw coffee beans are composed mainly, like most plant tissues, of insoluble polysaccharides, such as cellulose and hemicellulose (about 50%). They also contain soluble monosaccharides such as fructose, glucose, galactose, mannose, arabinose and glucose. Soluble carbohydrates act as aroma retainers, foam and extract viscosity enhancers.

Polysaccharides in coffee are composed of three main types: mannans or galactomannans, arabinogalactans-protein (AGP) and cellulose. In addition, there are reports of the presence of small amounts of pectic polysaccharides and xyloglucans.

Galactomannans are the predominant components in coffee bean cell walls, accounting for 50% of polysaccharides present in the grain. These are composed of a structural axis of β-D-mannose residues joined by glycosidic bonds (1→ 4), with side groups of -D-galactose, linked through bonds (1 → 6).

Chlorogenic acids (ACG) are considered phenolic compounds of greater relevance and those that present in greater quantities in coffee. 

It is possible to say that chlorogenic acids are a set of five main groups of phenolic compounds and their formed isomers, mainly by the esterification of quinic acid with one of the following derivatives of cinnamic acid: caffeic acid, ferulic acid or p-coumaric acid. 

These groups are: caffeoylquinic acids, dicaffeoylquinic acids, feruloylquinic acids, acids

p-coumaroylquinic and caffeoyl feruloylquinic acids.

What are the differences between different types of coffee?

The level of trigonelline found in green coffee depends on the species. Arabica coffees contain about 1% and robusta 0.7%. Trigonelline has little direct influence on the quality of the coffee drink, as it has a weak bitter taste.

Caffeine is a single xanthine present in coffee in relevant quantities, however, there are unconfirmed reports of the presence of traces of theophylline and theobromine. The caffeine content in raw coffee varies greatly, with the difference between species being the most relevant factor. 

However, even within a species occurs variation. Robusta coffee, in general, has a higher caffeine content than coffee Arabica.

Coffee by-products, like husks, pulp and dregs present significant amounts of compounds


Polysaccharides are the components present in the coffee bean in greater quantity, and the robust species present greater quantity than the Arabica species.

What happens to these compounds after roasting?

Furthermore, studies have shown that roasted coffee extract has antibacterial activity against various microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus mutans and several strains of enterobacteriaceae.

This is likely due to the antibacterial activity of several characteristic components of coffee, such as caffeic acid, trigonelline, caffeine, chlorogenic acid and protocatechuic acid.

Chlorogenic acid levels were lower after roasting. Lipid content increases with roasting degree, as lipids, unlike other compounds, are not degraded during processing. Caffeic acid is formed by degradation of chlorogenic acid during the roasting process and phenolics are degraded during the roasting process.

Other FAQs about Coffee that you may be interested in.

What to do with spilled coffee on a laptop?

Why does coffee make urine smell like coffee?

Why should you start using coffee grounds twice?


In this brief text we answered the question “What is the healthiest coffee to drink?” and discussed some topics related to this theme. In addition, we discussed which compounds in coffee have a beneficial effect on health.