Ultrafast cold-brewing of coffee by picosecond-pulsed laser extraction

Coffee is typically brewed by extracting roasted and milled beans with hot water, but alternative methods such as cold brewing became increasingly popular over the past years. Cold-brewed coffee is attributed to health benefits, fewer acids, and bitter substances. But the preparation of cold brew typically needs several hours or even days. To create a cold-brew coffee within a few minutes, we present an approach in which an ultrashort-pulsed laser system is applied at the brewing entity without heating the powder suspension in water, efficiently extracting caffeine and aromatic substances from the powder. Already 3 min irradiation at room temperature leads to a caffeine concentration of 25 mg caffeine per 100 ml, comparable to the concentrations achieved by traditional hot brewing methods but comes without heating the suspension. Furthermore, the liquid phase’s alkaloid content, analyzed by reversed-phase liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry, is dominated by caffeine and trigonelline and is comparable to traditional cold-brewed coffee rather than hot-brewed coffee. Furthermore, analyzing the head-space of the prepared coffee variants, using in-tube extraction dynamic head-space followed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, gives evidence that the lack of heating leads to the preservation of more (semi-)volatile substances like pyridine, which provide cold-brew coffee its unique taste. This pioneering study may give the impetus to investigate further the possibility of cold-brewing coffee, accelerated by more than one order of magnitude, using ultrafast laser systems.


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