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Acrylamide is a subject of ongoing investigations with the FDA. Why? It is a suspected carcinogen. It tends to form in foods that are overheated when cooked. Most notorious are heavily cooked (as in burned) or fried meats. But acrylamide is also found in toasted breads and fried potatoes, such as french fries and potato chips, according to Science News.

The FDA study sampled many common products and found acrylamides in roasted almonds, fish fillets, Starbucks Columbian roast, Wasa Crisp bread and Hershey’s Cocoa. The State of California also has required Starbucks to post a warning in their stores that their coffee contains chemicals (acrylamide) known to cause cancer. This is not something Starbucks adds the the coffee beans. It is a result of coffee roasting.

Then there is the problem of benzopyrene. According to an article in Wikipedia, benzopyrene is a component of  pitch and can be found in coal tar after a forest fire, in the air after a volcanic eruption, in wood and cigarette smoke  and “in burnt foods such as coffee. Evidence exists to link benzo[a]pyrene to the formation of lung cancer.”

Due to the common practice of burning a dark roast coffee, it behooves those of us that want to enjoy many more years of the brew, to drink roasts that have not been burned. (BTW, the FDA found more acrylamide in instant coffees than in typical brewed coffees.)

With the lack of conclusive evidence, the presence of these compounds may not be significant if these foods are ingested only occasionally. But coffee is a daily routine and ingesting anything possibly carcinogenic several times a day is cause for concern. Take cigarette smoking, for example. Recurring and consistent exposure leads to increased risk of cancer.

How do you tell if a coffee roast is burned? One way is to drag one of the beans over a white coffee filter. If it leaves a brown trail, it is burned. Another way is appearance of the bean. A burned bean is dark brown and very dry, looking much like a cinder. Another way is taste and smell. Sometimes the burning isn’t from roasting, but is brewed coffee that sat too long on the hot plate.  That you can taste and smell.

Many of our customers remark that Starbucks coffee is burned. One even called it “Char-bucks.” Whether or not it is, let your palate and nose steer you away from burned coffee. Not only is it possibly unhealthy, it tastes bad and there is no excuse for drinking burned coffee. Especially when you’ve got the master roaster at Wicked Coffees making sure each roast is full of roasted flavor, but never burned.

Sample one of our dark roasts to educate your palate. Compared to Starbucks, you will likely immediately taste nothing ashy, burned or bitter in our double dark Devils Delight or triple dark Hell Fire. I can’t help saying this: great coffee does not have to be burned, mediocre or a light roast. Try wicked good, micro-roasted coffee like ours and live to tell the tale.