To the list of things that can harm you, add coffee fumes apparently. An investigative report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looked at the inhalation hazards for employees at coffee roasters. As those of us who like our coffee know, it is the aroma that makes for a great cup. As a result, coffee roasters spend a lot of time sniffing the beans to make sure they are just right.
According to the article, that is the problem. The combination of amino acids and sugars in coffee beans creates diacetyl, a toxic compound linked to lung disease. In the past, diacetyl has been most closely linked to flavoring additives, but the report says it was found in levels that exceeded safety standards in several coffee roasters that do not use flavorings, indicating it was a byproduct of the roasting process.
No danger coffee drinkers or baristas, but a wake-up call for the growing number of small coffee roasters that are cropping up around the country.