What Is Kahweol in Coffee?

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on April 26th, 2023

You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered what it means when someone talks about the “kahweol” content in coffee.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what kahweol is and how it affects the flavor of your favorite cup of joe. Read on to learn more!

turkish coffee

What is Kahweol?

Kahweol is a diterpene molecule found in Coffea arabica beans and structurally related to cafestol. Its name derives from the Arabic word ka-ah-wa, which has been found to increase glutathione S-transferase activity in mice.

Along with cafestol, Kahweol is responsible for the effect of unfiltered coffee on serum cholesterol. It is also naturally extracted from coffee beans, and recent studies have suggested it may have anti-carcinogenic properties as well as neuromodulatory, anti-osteoporotic, anti-resorptive, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative effects.

Where is Kahweol Found?

Kahweol is a diterpene found in coffee beans, originating from the isoprenoid metabolic pathway. It is found exclusively in coffee plants and is a powerful natural extract from coffee beans, mainly present as fatty esters in unfiltered coffee like Turkish coffee.

Chemical Structure of Kahweol

Kahweol is a diterpene molecule found in coffee beans with a 20-carbon kauran skeleton. It has an additional double bond in its structure compared to cafestol, another diterpene found exclusively in coffee. This makes it more susceptible to addition reactions, light, and heat than cafestol.

The molecular formula of kahweol is C20H26O3, and its chemical structure is illustrated below.


Effects of Kahweol on Serum Cholesterol

Kahweol, a diterpene found in unfiltered coffee, is known to affect serum cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that every 10 mg of cafestol in unfiltered coffee can increase serum cholesterol by 0.13 mmol/L and ALT by 5 U/L.

While cafestol is known to strongly raise VLDL and LDL cholesterol and slightly reduce HDL cholesterol, kahweol appears to have a mild effect on the integrity of the liver. It seems that kahweol’s effects on cholesterol levels are not as strong as those of cafestol, but it still has an impact.

Furthermore, studies have shown that kahweol is sensitive to heat and light, meaning its effects may be reduced or eliminated when exposed to these elements.

Kahweol’s Sensitivity to Heat and Light

Kahweol and cafestol are both sensitive to heat and light, which means that the optimal condition for preserving the beneficial properties of these diterpenes is to keep them away from these elements.

This is why light or medium roast coffee beans are used when making coffee, as the roasting process directly impacts the concentration of these compounds.

Furthermore, the fatty acid esters in which kahweol and cafestol are present can also be degraded by heat and light, reducing efficacy.

It is important to note that while keeping kahweol and cafestol away from heat and light will help preserve their beneficial properties, it is still important to consume them in moderation as they can still lead to potential side effects.

Kahweol’s Anti-Carcinogenic Properties

Kahweol has been studied to possess anti-carcinogenic properties and has been shown to induce apoptosis in human cancer cells. Besides human colorectal cancer, kahweol has also been studied for its anti-cancer properties against oral squamous and breast cancer.

Additionally, kahweol’s anti-proliferative properties have been studied in oral squamous cancer cells. These studies suggest that kahweol can potentially be used as a therapeutic agent to prevent cancer development and as an adjuvant therapy during cancer treatments.

Kahweol’s Neuromodulatory Effects

Kahweol, in addition to its effects on serum cholesterol, has also been shown to have neuromodulatory effects. Coffee contains diterpenes (cafestol and kahweol) and caffeine, the most studied and known neuromodulator as an adenosine receptor.

Kahweol acts by inhibiting cell migration, suggesting it may affect neuronal pathways in the brain. In vitro studies have demonstrated that Kahweol can reduce the expression of certain proteins involved in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, indicating that Kahweol may benefit cognitive health.

Kahweol has also been shown to increase the expression of proteins associated with brain plasticity, suggesting it may be useful for promoting learning and memory. Thus, the natural diterpene extracted from coffee beans is beneficial for raising serum lipids and exhibits various anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.

Kahweol’s Anti-Osteoporotic and Anti-Resorptive Effects

Kahweol, a diterpene found in coffee beans, has demonstrated anti-osteoporotic and anti-resorptive effects. Studies have shown that Kahweol can increase the production of alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme involved in the formation of bone tissue.

Similarly, Kahweol has also been shown to inhibit osteoclastogenesis and osteoclast activity in rats with osteoporosis. This is likely due to its ability to inhibit RANKL signaling, a process involved in controlling osteoclast differentiation and activity.

Furthermore, Kahweol’s antioxidKahweol’sperties may help protect against oxidative damage to the bones caused by free radicals. These results suggest that Kahweol may be useful for preventing and treating osteoporosis in humans.

Kahweol’s Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidative Properties

Kahweol has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, making it a potentially useful addition to any health regime. Research has found that kahweol can regulate a variety of inflammatory mediators, reducing inflammation.

Additionally, it exhibits anti-osteoporotic and anti-resorptive effects and neuromodulatory and anticarcinogenic properties. Regarding antioxidative benefits, kahweol is resistant to heat and light degradation, making it an effective additive in food products and supplements.

This makes kahweol an ideal choice for anyone looking to increase their antioxidant intake while also benefitting from its other health-promoting effects.


In conclusion, Kahweol is an important component of coffee that has been studied for its potential health benefits. While it is sensitive to heat and light, it can still be beneficial if consumed appropriately.

Studies have shown that Kahweol has anti-carcinogenic, neuromodulatory, anti-osteoporotic, anti-resorptive, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative properties. Thus, coffee is an important component that can provide numerous health benefits when consumed in moderation.


All of the information provided was based on several studies. Since these sources were used in multiple sections of this article, we decided to add these sources here for further reading.

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Disclosure: No compensation or free products were received in exchange for writing this review.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.