The Maillard Reaction

The Maillard Reaction

WOLFF WEEKLY VLOGG 001 | Peter Wolff chats Maillard Reaction

A brief summary of the Maillard Reaction is we need the presence of protein, carbohydrates. We need amino acids and we need reducing sugars. So one of the comparisons that I always like to say to people is that there is commonality in the Maillard Reaction and how we cook our steak or our roast beef at home because we’ve got sugar, we’ve got protein in that. The way that milk browns on the steam wand; there’s protein in milk, there’s sugar in milk, so obviously that helps with the browning of that particular substance. Also coffee, we talk about that as well and also in the production of cocoa and chocolate.

The Maillard phase is a very important phase because it really helps determine the physical weight or the molecular structure of the coffee. The longer we stretch and the longer we spend time in this particular phase we create more molecular structure or more molecular weight in the coffee and, therefore, it becomes thicker or more viscous, more syrupy. So we have a heavier mouthfeel. If you shorten the Maillard phase, we have a shorter phase within that, then what happens is we have less molecular weight. The coffee becomes thinner, it becomes a little bit more wispy, but we get a greater clarity of flavour. So I guess it’s always the trade off of whether we’re wanting that really light, easy to drink style or do we want something that’s really heavy and viscous with lots of complexity to it.

How I know we’re in the Maillard phase is when the coffee transitions from green when we first start to going from a white colour. As it’s transitioning from white to yellow, this is the commencement of the maillard phase. So it’s a visual signpost that we use in the roasting process. We can link some aromas to that, if we’re wanting to pull the tryer out. You will find some basmati rice, some of those toasty, doughy, bakers kind of smells coming into the coffee at that point. Still a little bit of dampness but not a lot, most of that dampness is removed, that damp smell. Because for the Maillard Reaction to happen the presence of water needs to be reduced significantly as well. So you will notice a reduction in that as well.

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