Issue Date: February 18, 2008
Instrument-Based Coffee Taster Developed
Coffee scientists have long wanted to develop an instrument as good as trained panelists at evaluating sensory characteristics of coffee. A project team at Nestlé Research Center, in Lausanne, Switzerland, led by Christian Lindinger now may have achieved that goal (Anal. Chem., DOI: 10.1021/ac702196z). The researchers developed a coffee sensory model by using proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry to measure 16 characteristic ions from the vapor above coffee samples and correlating their levels with sensory profiles created by a panel of trained coffee tasters. They then used the model to accurately predict sensory characteristics of eight new coffee samples. Five of 11 characteristics evaluated by panelists (citrus, flowery, acidic, bitter, and winy) proved most effective at discriminating among different coffee tastes, and these same attributes were also predicted most accurately by the instrumental data. Just two minutes of measurements and simple calculations are required to predict a sensory profile, and the researchers believe high-throughput coffee tasting will be possible.
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