Monday, February 11, 2008

similar similarities

i'm struck by how similar the three phenomena of maillard, strecker and caramelization are. read the wikis and it is clear that the whole thing is, well, not really all that clear, especially as it pertains to something like coffee.

the long and short of it for me are to try to take advantage of maillard--the chemical reaction between proteins (amino acids) and reducing sugars--while not falling prey to caramelization. doing some controlled experiments with strecker would be not only fun but groundbreaking; and i suspect there are a few roasters who already intrinsically understand the implications of strecker. but i've yet to see anyone publish anything useful for peer-review. maybe jaime will chime in here...

because i keep a pretty light hand at the roaster there is rarely a scenario where the oxidation of sugars is an issue. but at least it's good enough to have read the material as a talisman against placing myself in such a dire scenario.

i mention these things because jacinto is finalized: a (somewhat prototypical) espresso that is snappy, sweet and clean--and that teases the perceptions of caramelites everywhere. i guess macchiatto espressos are nothing new. but this one was meant for not much more than macchiatto milk in order to see it at its best. straight shots of it are even better, insofar as "better" can mean "challenging" and even "bedeviling" if it's not done right. jacinto is not really--maybe--even a commercial or commercial type espresso, meaning, it may never be offered to the general public. it wasn't really even created for mass production. as i think about it, i think i created it mostly to change my own opinions of espresso--even though i say aloud that it is meant to "change people's opinions of espresso," a statement that, while pointing the finger at others, realizes there are three pointing back at myself.

i sent some to a friend and he enjoyed it. maybe you'll get that chance one day, too.

Labels: , , , , , ,


At Tuesday, 12 February, 2008, Anonymous James Hoffmann said...

I wrote a little about the reactions a while ago -

I don't think you can really separate out the reactions - they interplay with each other as they go creating incredibly complex and changeable reaction pathways.

As for your question about sucrose - it reacts pretty quickly in caramelisation reactions. It isn't a reducing sugar so doesn't get involved in maillards, though its reaction products could be involved in some strecker degradation reactions.

As for reading on the subject - Illy obviously but also R.J. Clarke - Coffee (Volume 1 I think) and Clarke again in a recently published book on coffee - can't remember the name off the top of my head but Marino Petracco co-authored some of it.

Will have a dig about...

At Tuesday, 12 February, 2008, Blogger blanco said...

Thanks, Jim. I appreciate the reply on sucrose as well.

The fascination for me comes in those infinite pathways. Theoretically they should be reproduceable and I've long thought about what it would take to capture that info; but the harrowing reality is that most current roaster and accompanying logging technology is nowhere near able to help one isolate and log that information to the point where it could be reproduced.

Do you know of any technology that could be adapted to determine what sugars are more present in particular beans? From there it might be easier to attack with a particular profile based on density, water quantity, bean size, batch size vis-a-vis drum size, etc. It would be the ultimate profiling tool.

Thanks for the comment, Jim. How goes Square Mile?

At Saturday, 10 May, 2008, Anonymous Marino Petracco said...

Maybe Jim Hoffmann is referring to:

R.Clarke & O.G.Vitzthum (editors) Coffee: Recent Developments
2001 Blackwell Science Ltd.

available online for purchase at:

Best wishes
Marino Petracco


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home