October 26, 2007

If You're Drinking Decaf, You're Probably Too Tired To Read This

The NYTimes has a short piece about their recent discovery that decaf coffee actually has caffeine. Well, ok. 

They cite a study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology (from 2006) that found that



decaf.JPGThey also tested 6 cups from the same Starbucks (one in Florida) and found 12mg/16oz.

The article also references the recent Consumer Reports article testing of 6 cups each of 6 different brands of decaf.  Here's an interesting statement by Consumer Reports:

One of the six cups (12oz) from Dunkin' Donuts had 32 mg; one from Seattle's Best had 29 mg; and one from Starbucks had 21 mg.

What's weird about it is that Starbucks actually tells you there are 20mg in a 12oz cup of decaf.  So why did only one of the tested cups have that much?  Keep in mind, the toxicology journal article found an average of 9mg/12oz at one store,  6mg/16oz in another store.  We can assume the beans are the same, so the answer, obviously, is in the preparation of the beverage, not the decaffeination process.  Specifically, temperature and time.

Have you noticed that Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts coffee is so hot it makes you want to punch a harp seal?  And do you remember when McDonalds got sued because some damn fool used coffee as an eyewash and burned her corneas out? 

And have you noticed that the coffee you make at home is never as good as the one at the store?  And never as hot?  And never as good? 

Professional coffee makers heat the water that goes into the grounds to F195; your countertop bling-bling does 180.  Think 15 degrees doesn't matter?  

The hotter the water passing through the grounds, the more caffeine; but the more acidic.  I'll say it backwards, too: the colder the water, the less caffeine, but less acidic.  Did you ever wonder why no one ever orders Starbucks black?  It's because they're all dead.  If your machine isn't pushing 1200 watts, it's not even trying to extract caffeine from the coffee.  It's giving it a gentle misting, like you might to do to a baby, or when cleaning the leaves of a rubber plant, or when peeing on a friend.  Or something.  

Also, the last ounces out of the grounds are more bitter than the first.  They also have less caffeine.  You know those auto shut off coffee pots in hotel rooms, that stop dripping when you pull the carafe (and consequently flood because you didn't know you needed to put the cover on to get it to work?)  Each cup you pour is different in taste and composition.

That said, coffee on a hotplate burns fast, very fast.  So drink fast.

Also see:

What's The Healthiest Coffee To Drink?

"A cautionary tale about working to hard."





Comments

I may be having a "not enou... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2007 5:36 PM | Posted by Lexi: | Reply

I may be having a "not enough coffee" day because I can't figure out how to reply to the two posts you linked.

To this post: I knew decaf had caffeine, but I never realized it was that much at starbucks! no wonder when I was "off coffee" and got a decaf at *$'s I quickly got back on. I was thinking more along the lines of

re: caffeine w/drawal-- I get headaches for about 3 days and am sluggish and slow for about 30 days after. The best thing I've found to counter that after the initial headache phase is to go jogging/walking every morning. However I've been preferring coffee the last several months to an early morning jog. I quit caffeine about twice a year.

Alone's response: interestingly, Starbucks had reported less caffeine in their decaf in earlier years. I don't know what to make of this.

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I just now sent a URL for ... (Below threshold)

October 27, 2007 10:19 AM | Posted by AK: | Reply

I just now sent a URL for this to a friend whose migraines are triggered by coffee.

Am wondering if all coffee or just some brands of it, have tyramines. My pal has had worse reactions to some coffees more than to others.

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Maybe it wasn't Starbucks c... (Below threshold)

October 27, 2007 12:45 PM | Posted by Stephany: | Reply

Maybe it wasn't Starbucks coffee. Maybe it was generic beans sold in Starbucks bags.

Actually, the Starbucks coffee beans you buy in a supermarket like Acme aren't the same ones used in the Starbucks coffeehouses. I think a buyer from Acme told me it was the same company as MAxwell House, but I am not sure about that.

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I have a heart condition th... (Below threshold)

October 28, 2007 9:39 PM | Posted by mark p.s.: | Reply

I have a heart condition that can be triggered by caffeine. I learnt decaf wasn't decaf the hard way. Someone should sue them.

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I wish they had the equival... (Below threshold)

October 29, 2007 9:06 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

I wish they had the equivalent of dipsticks (eg like Test Tape/Dextro Sticks for testing sugar content of liquids)to test caffeine levels in liquids. That would be a huge help for those of us who have to either control intake or avoid it entirely.

Like this? http://www.livescience.com/health/060511_dipstick.html

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I drink Starbucks black and... (Below threshold)

October 29, 2007 9:26 PM | Posted by flamenguista1107: | Reply

I drink Starbucks black and I'm pretty sure I'm still alive.

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I have to weigh in on the "... (Below threshold)

November 6, 2007 11:07 AM | Posted by KWL: | Reply

I have to weigh in on the "Urban Myth" of suing McDonalds for "too hot Coffee, Duh!" Not sure how to title it, not really an urban myth but the problem is that the woman who sued was right in suing.

Yep. She was absolutely right and any vendor serving coffee out of those Super-Urns (coffee urns, the large stainless steel vats that hold and heat coffee) should have been sued long before someone got that hurt.

The problem is that these things super-heat that cup of coffee. Sitting there for hours soaking up more heat than you'd ever think possible.

This problem came into specific relief for me some months after this story when I was traveling to a distant city and stopped at a roadside Burger King for a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee. Holy Cow! Holy Nuclear Flaming Cow! I couldn't touch the cup of coffee until I got to my destination let alone drink it. And as I watched them pour it from their urn through the drive-up window, and have some restaurant experience myself, I knew immediately the problem and the seriousness of it.
So, as you are always pointing out, there's usually more than meets the eye on at least some reflection.
Thanks for your excellent posts, you put a shine on an otherwise dull-blogging universe.
KWL

Alone's response: you are correct, and actually they use this case to describe what a frivolous lawsuit _isn't._ But my point in the statement (beyond the joke) was to highlight hot water (195)=good coffee; cold water (170)=crap.

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Actually, there's one insta... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2007 12:13 AM | Posted by amberite: | Reply

Actually, there's one instance in which cold water makes good coffee -- but it has to be from really great beans, and it has to be actually cold water, icy, not even lukewarm. Toddy coffee. The stuff comes out more caffeinated than espresso and with a fantastic flavor -- you know how people describe notes in coffee, like wine, but they hardly ever seem to be right? Toddy process brings out all the notes, so you can really taste that there's a chemical in the bean with a flavor resembling coconut, or vanilla, for instance. I have no clue how to make it, but a shop I go to in Portland (Blend) makes a wonderful one.

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I have yet to hear of someo... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2007 3:34 PM | Posted by judy: | Reply

I have yet to hear of someone having the same problem as i do...I drink a cup of home brewed Starbucks decaf. Instant migraines that lasts a couple of days. Tried different types, same thing. And it makes me sleepy. I don't have this problem with other coffee, or caffiene. ??

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I have yet to hear of someo... (Below threshold)

July 26, 2010 5:36 AM | Posted by Club Penguin Cheats: | Reply

I have yet to hear of someone having the same problem as i do...I drink a cup of home brewed Starbucks decaf. Instant migraines that lasts a couple of days.

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I have yet to hear of someo... (Below threshold)

July 26, 2010 5:38 AM | Posted by Club Penguin Cheats: | Reply

I have yet to hear of someone having the same problem as i do...I drink a cup of home brewed Starbucks decaf. Instant migraines that lasts a couple of days.

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I have yet to hear of someo... (Below threshold)

July 26, 2010 5:40 AM | Posted by Mary: | Reply

I have yet to hear of someone having the same problem as i do...I drink a cup of home brewed Starbucks decaf. Instant migraines that lasts a couple of days.
club penguin cheats

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