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Is Charcoal Roasting Carcinogenic?

Many say that charcoal can cause cancer because of cooking foods, particularly meat, at high temperatures. Others will say that they cook in pots and grill barbeques for many years by using charcoals, but still, they are alive and well. Aside from wood, charcoal played a big part in delicious cooking. For coffee drinkers, do you think coffee roasting using charcoal is carcinogenic? Let’s talk about how charcoal is carcinogenic, what to do to prevent the carcinogens, and if it is true that charcoal coffee roasting is carcinogenic or not.

roasting coffee with charcoal

What is a Carcinogen?

Carcinogenesis is the formation of cancer, and we surely know what cancer cells can harm our bodies. A carcinogen is an agent or any substance, including radiation, that causes cancer.

How did using charcoals become carcinogenic?

When cooking meat at a high temperature or, let's say, when grilling barbeque, the burned parts and the black grilled marks on grill grates and muscle meat will release the carcinogen HCAs (Heterocyclic Amines), and when fat drips from the meat, and then on the charcoal, the oh so good-looking flames and barbeque smoke can circulate everywhere and cover your meat with another carcinogen PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Still, it does not mean that we must stop grilling barbecues and steaks. It is just that we have to be more careful when cooking these mouth-watering foods. Many people still do not have any type of cancer, although it depends on genetics and other individual factors.

Lowering the Risk of Getting Carcinogens

  • Go for Lean foods

You can make a few changes in your grilling or cooking using grilled lean foods such as seafood, poultry, and vegetables. Grilling fruits is okay too, especially when the grill is topped with foil. Grilled pineapple is delicious!

According to Colleen Doyle, a Nutrition and Physical Activity Director of the American Cancer Society, when high temperatures meet muscle meat, it causes amino acids found in the meat to react with the meat’s creatine. Creatine is only found in muscle meat that is why there are no HCAs formed in vegetables.

  • Marinate or rub with spices

When grilling meat, rub it with olive oil and herbs like rosemary and pepper since these can block the formation of HCAs or vinegar. You may also marinate it 30 minutes or more before cooking to reduce HCAs. Go for sauces and marinades that are acid-based or less in sugar, such as vinegar, wine, keto-friendly sauces, and many more.

  • Layer the grill grates with foil

Using foil on top of the griller can prevent meat drippings from dropping on the charcoal. You can even wrap some food with foil and cook it on the grates.

  • Clean your grill before cooking the barbeque

You might be thinking that we can clean the grates every two or more grilling occasions, but no, we must clean before grilling because the burned bits will meet the meat (no pun intended), and the combined drippings of meat and burned bits will increase PAHs.

Charcoal-roasted Sumiyaki Coffee

How is it possible to roast fresh green coffee beans using charcoal? Well, before we discuss this, there are the usual two types of coffee roasting. These are hot air roasting and direct fire roasting.

Hot air roasting is using high air temperature to roast beans. To get a simple idea of how it works, it is like using a hot-air dryer to roast the beans resulting in ready-to-grind light-roasted coffee beans.

coffee roasting

Direct Fire Roasting is roasting coffee beans by using fire from a gas burner. The way of cooking is like cooking barbeque on a grill, except that the coffee beans are being cooked on a coffee roaster container.

Back to charcoal roasted coffee, it is possible to roast these using heat from Binchotan charcoal. Binchotan charcoal is a type of activated charcoal used in Japanese cooking. The effect of the far-infrared rays of the burning Binchotan charcoal make the beans cooked from inside to out. The result is the fluffy and plump appearance of the roasted coffee beans and the slowing down of the deterioration time.

Using the charcoal roasting method will lessen the possibility of overcooked or undercooked coffee beans because this method ensures that the inside of each coffee bean is cooked well.

How Sumiyaki Coffee keeps its freshness for a long time

Far infrared rays are electromagnetic waves between light waves and microwaves (the waves in the microwave oven). These rays are what make cooking from the inside out possible. Because of this, coffee beans will not burn and turn bitter. By letting heat come to the core of each coffee bean, the result will be a sweet, smoky, savory, or strong taste depending on the desired flavor of the coffee.

The loss of coffee beans' flavor and aroma slows down in charcoal coffee roasting. When the beans start to oxidize (like when an opened apple turns brown) after getting these out of the coffee roaster, a large amount of carbon monoxide from the burnt charcoal delays the oxidation, meaning the coffee beans will have a long shelf life.

Is Charcoal-roasted Sumiyaki coffee carcinogenic?

Acrylamide is a chemical compound formed during the coffee roasting process. Besides coffee, we are often exposed to acrylamide via household cleaners, personal care products, food (including baked goods), smoking, and second-hand smoke. According to the Missouri State Medical Association, acrylamide is a probable carcinogen because of the studies in rodents that were dosed at significantly higher rates than what humans consume in food. There is no evidence that acrylamide, especially in a cup of coffee, can cause cancer. The high temperature makes the coffee a very low risk for contamination.

roasted coffee

Acrylamide is dangerous if much of it is intentionally placed on your food. You can still enjoy crispy pizza, fries, and coffee depending on what ingredients these are made, such as organic ingredients, made from fresh tomatoes, and many more.

Acrylamide slowly decreases in time as the allowed coffee shelf-life passes.

The roasting method using Binchotan charcoal is safe because the charcoals are burned inside the roaster, not on the grill. It is safe to consume Sumiyaki coffee, and so far, there are no negative opinions except that it is challenging to perform roasting using the Binchotan charcoal method.

Coffee drinking does not increase the risk of getting cancer, but some of its content protects the body from getting certain types of cancer. Getting rid of acrylamide in foods is impossible, but coffee producers are trying ways to reduce acrylamide. The coffee benefits are way more than just worrying about a small amount of acrylamide.


Charcoal grilling becomes carcinogenic when meat drippings meet the charcoal, and we can make it non-carcinogenic when we clean the grates, use lean foods, marinate or rub the meat, and use foil. In Charcoal-roasted Sumiyaki coffee, the coffee makers use Binchotan charcoal inside the coffee roaster, meaning no direct drippings going to the charcoal. In short, charcoal-roasted coffee is not Carcinogenic.

Make sure to monitor your health so you will be careful in overeating and overdrinking. Anyway, enjoy the grilled gourmet foods and the coffee break time. It's more enjoyable when you eat together with your family.

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