Are there tannins in coffee?

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February 3, 2012 by roastmeisterscoffee

The other day, someone asked me if there were tannins in coffee. The short answer is, yes. But, the truth is a bit, though not much, more complicated. Some confusion arises from the fact that there are different types of tannins. For example, there are hydrolyzable tannins (water soluble) and condensed tannins (non hydrolyzable) and phlorotannins (found in brown algae). More confusion arises from the fact that there are also different types of acids… To keep it simple yet still meaningful, remember that the term “tannin” originates from the tradition of using wood tannins from oak to tan animal hides. (Tanna is the Old German word for oak or fir tree.) Strange to think that such a substance would be suitable for human consumption. However, as most wine and coffee lovers know, the contrary is the case. A polyphenolic compound naturally occuring in plants, tannic acid, in wine and coffee alike, helps to create a pleasant, sparkling sensation on the tongue, a quality characterized as “brightness.” Importantly, tannic acid is not the only element creating this quality of brightness. Indeed, there are several different types of acids in coffee. More about this in our next post about coffee and acidity…

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