Sadly, coumarin itself has languished under a
toxicity cloud for my entire career. Many suggested
substitutes recreate some aspects of the lactonic hay
note, but they all miss key parts of the complex character of coumarin. Also occasionally called methyl
2-pyrrolyl ketone, 2-acetyl pyrrole (FEMA# 3202,
CAS# 1072-83-9) is an interesting caramel character
with no obvious lactonic notes. Nevertheless, it does
capture a vital dusty element of the coumarin profile
– the bit that reminds me of the caramelic note of
burnt hay (minus the lamb).
Note that the dose rates given throughout this
article are the levels suggested for use in flavors
intended to be dosed at 0.05% in ready-to-drink
beverages or in a simple bouillon.
Chocolate and Cocoa: Here, 2-acetyl pyrrole adds
pleasant authenticity to chocolate flavors at around
500 ppm and to cocoa and dark chocolate flavors at
Coffee: Similar levels, in the region of 500 ppm
are equally effective in coffee flavors, adding complexity and realism.
Licorice: A level of 800 ppm provides welcome
depth to licorice flavors and prevents them from
falling into the trap of being too simplistic and one
Malt: Levels of 2-acetyl pyrrole in malt flavors
vary depending on the profile of the flavor involved.
Typical malted milk flavors are best served by around
1,000 ppm but much higher levels work well in
aggressively malty flavors.
Molasses and Brown Sugar: This ingredient
really comes into its own in molasses and brown
sugar flavors, enhancing the impact of the flavors
significantly. A level of 3,000 ppm is a good start in
molasses flavors and a slightly lower level, nearer
2,000 ppm works better in typical brown sugar
Tea: An addition of 2-acetyl pyrrole is most effective in red tea flavors, such as oolong, and here 3,000
ppm is a reasonable starting point. It is also quite
effective in black tea flavors but a better level is 1,000
ppm in this category. The use of this ingredient in
green tea flavors is a matter of opinion, personally I
think it does not work so well.
Vanilla: This chemical only plays a small part
in the character of vanilla bean style flavors, but it