Podcast: Water in Food with Ian Fretheim

Posted on October 19th, 2023

This past week our Director of Sensory Analysis, Ian Fretheim, joined Zachary Cartwright as a guest on his podcast “Water in Food.” The two dove into a discussion on the role water plays in specialty green coffee, exploring findings from our sensory team’s long-term study on water activity (Aw), talking about sensory science as it relates to coffee, and getting excited about the future of cupping with our new Coffee Rose.

One area of interest they delved into is the correlation between Aw and Maillard browning. Generally, Maillard browning occurs as you reduce the Aw. The roasting process dries out the coffee to a very low Aw, creating a roast-catalyzed Maillard. This isn’t the only instance where Maillard browning happens, though. As Ian explains, “At lower temps… like room temps, high Aw can also lead to Maillard. In this case, however, we’re talking spoilage.” That is the double-edged sword of Maillard browning you should be aware of, particularly when storing green coffee.

For the full discussion on Maillard browning, a look into how our sensory team continues to study Aw, how we use the Coffee Rose when cupping, and more, listen to the podcast below.