CaffeineMaybe some day in the future we will discover that caffeine was the root of all humanevil, but studies on the long-term health effects of caffeine have been inconclusive andcontradictory as of yet. It was proven that a rat drinking 12-14 cups a day risked birthdefects; a stern warning to all you rats out there. Caffeine is a strong substance forsure, and if you experience any discomfort from it, the answer is quite intuitive:
• Drink less coffee!• Drink better coffee!
Remember that the pre-ground stuff in the can probably contains Robusta beans, whichhave more caffeine. Also, darker roasts will have a bit less caffeine than light roasts. Ifyou can, use less coffee and grind as fine as possible without clogging the filter. If youuse too little, you'll know by the flavorless, thin-bodied brown water that results.
• Drink decaf. There are many excellent decafs on the market these days. • Drink lo-caf. Partially reduce the impact of caffeine on your system with reducedcaffeine coffees. Blend and mix to achieve the balance that best suits you. If the acidityof coffee is bothering you, drink a darker roast.
Caffeine is a stimulant -- caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) by itsadenosine antagonist action. Moderate doses usually enhance alertness, concentrationand energy. These factors also mean that caffeine can interfere with sleep but as mostcaffeine is excreted in about two hours, this effect is minimal unless the caffeine is takentoo soon before falling asleep. Caffeine also appears to enhance exercise performance,increasing energy, endurance and calorie consumption during exercise. Most recentstudies indicate that genes also play an important role in your system metabolizingcaffeine. Some people will metabolize the caffeine quite easily whereas others need asignificantly longer time to break down the caffeine. So, it is a combination of thenumber of coffees you drink during the day and your body. You may need to considerstarting your day with caffeinated coffee and then transitioning to decaf later in the day. You may also need to restrict caffeine completely. The good news is that caffeine is nota flavor. Decaf coffee done right should also taste great.
Caffeine is a diuretic -- ingesting caffeine causes an increase in frequency of urinaryexcretion. Unless extra water is taken in to compensate for the increased volume ofurine that is lost, dehydration can occur.
Caffeine is addictive, it's true-- research shows that, although humans seem not todevelop tolerance to caffeine (i.e. do not need more and more, over time, to get thesame results, unlike, say, heroin) it does appear that caffeine does cause dependencein humans. This means that the body becomes used to receiving a certain amount ofcaffeine at regular intervals and temporary effects, such as headache or fatigue, will beapparent each time caffeine is not received when the body expects it. These symptomsare, however, short-lived and usually disappear in several days. Slowly tapering offconsumption of caffeine will minimize these effects.
Caffeine does not seem linked to cancer -- in fact, a study in 1986 showed that fourcups of coffee per day might actually lower the incidence of cancer compared withnondrinkers. Studies showing negative health effects of coffee were performed with ratsthat consumed more than the human equivalent of 24 cups of coffee per day. I believealmost anything in that sort of excess would prove to be unhealthy. There have beenconflicting recent reports about coffee and cholesterol.that unfiltered coffee raisescholesterol. This seems odd for a food with 0 fat. But there may be other chemicalprocesses at work.
Chemicals and DecafHere is the bottom line on the different decaffeinating processes:
Chemical Process -Methylene Chloride (Also called European Process or KVW)Coffee cuppers have been known to prefer decafs processed with methelyene chloridedue in most part to the residual acidity in the cup. Beans are soaked in near boilingwater, extracting the flavor oils and caffeine from the coffee. The water is separated intoa tank where it is treated with methylene chloride. It bonds to the caffeine and is theneasily removed from the flavor oils. The beans are reintroduced, absorbing their longlost flavor.
Why is Methylene Chloride Decaf not as scary as it sounds?
1. Methylene Chloride is allowed by the USDA in amounts of 10 PPM (Parts PerMillion). The European Union, under whose guidelines the German decafs areperformed, allows 3 PPM. The coffee tests at LESS THAN 1 PPM .every time.
2. The Methylene Chloride is never absorbed by the bean really. It is a solvent andtherefore does not bond with the coffee.
3. Methylene Chloride is highly volatile and completely dissipates at 170 degrees. Coffee is roasted for 15 minutes at 500 degrees and brewed at 200 degrees.
4. Methylene Chloride warnings concern situations and industries where people use thechemical directly, with over 25 PPM direct contact. Yes, it is nasty stuff.
5. I had believed Methylene Chloride use may contribute to the depletion of the ozonelayer. It appears to not be true, according to the World Health Organization that statesthat MC has no environmental impact, outside the chance of a chemical spill. Buthousehold bleach would have an impact in a spill too.
6. The fact is, MC is mostly employed under the most stringent environmental standardsin the world when it is done in Germany. We may periodically choose to offer an MCdecaf because of its outstanding cup qualities, but will only offer German-processedones for this reason. EU standards for non-emissions including vapor-reclaimationfrom coffee plants (even for roast smoke) is an assurance that this process is being
Chemical Process- Ethyl Acetate (Also called Natural decaf)Ethyl Acetate is a naturally occurring organic compound found in some fruits. You maybe interested to know that chemical processes are cheaper to the coffee consumerbecause caffeine is resold to cola manufacturers, diet pills, chocolate products, icecream treats, etc. It's very, very valuable stuff! However, the amounts of ethyl acetaterequired for commercial decaffeination infer that in essence this is syntheticallyproduced. That is why there is concern about the misuse of the term natural.
Swiss Water® ProcessThis is an "indirect" decaffeination method. Their facility is outside of Vancouver Canadaand uses water from the B.C. coast mountains. Beans are soaked in water and greencoffee extract less caffeine. A diffusion process takes place where the caffeine migratesfrom the coffee bean into the water and green coffee extract. This solution passesthrough a carbon filter which captures the caffeine. This process continues for about 8-10 hours until 99.9% of the caffeine is removed. The process is a net extractionprocess. It is 100% chemical-free process.
"Mountain Water Process"Since late '02, we have been obtaining water process decaf coffee that is remarkablygood quality from a factory in Mexico. The name of the company is Descamex, and theycall their process "Mountain Water Process Decaffeination" The water is from theglaciers of the Pico de Orizaba Mountain in Mexico. The process they use is claimed tobe similar to the one described above - using water to float the coffee oils and caffeinein a solution, then filtering the solution to remove caffeine, and returning the watersoluble oils to the coffee.
C02 processThe latest, much hyped decaf process has been disappointing. Some C02's approachthe chemical decafs in cup quality; others are nearer to SWP decafs. In this technique,supercritical carbon dioxide is used in a high pressure, high temperature environment. As I understand it, supercritical CO2 acts as the solvent penetrating the coffee andextracting the caffeine, so when the coffee returns to normal temperature and pressure,there is no residue once the CO2 floats away.
Coffee Growing and the EnvironmentIn general, coffee estates, fincas or plantations are more ecologically sound than neweragribusiness growers are. Without advertising it, some varietals are grown withoutagricultural chemicals by tradition, like Yemen Mocha and some Ethiopian coffees. Distinguish between certified organic coffees and ones that are certified to be free ofchemicals. The latter does not mean that the farm didn’t use agricultural chemicals. Wefind this category perplexing, since the trace allowable amounts of agriculturalchemicals that might be found in coffee would be obliterated in the roasting and brewingprocess anyway.
As far as chemical decaf and ozone depletion, we will let you know what chemical wasused in the process of our green beans. A related concern is the use of dioxins andchlorine to bleach paper coffee filters. Natural unbleached filters impart more papertaste into the coffee, but it is hardly detectable.
Flavored coffees use an unpleasant chemical called Propylene Glycol. Because theflavorings need to adhere tenaciously to the coffee in order to survive grinding andbrewing, Propylene Glycol is used to as a bonding agent. While considered food safe, Ihave seen it eat through the epoxy that holds plexiglass coffee displays together overtime. There are further reports that spectral analysis performed on some flavoredcoffees has shown the presence of other artificial compounds used for flavoring or as apreservative. Remember that the beans being flavored are cheap blends, since theirown flavor is insignificant. We suggest that if you want flavor, add a flavored sugar,syrup or cream to the coffee after brewing.
Our PositionThe Cosmic Bean Coffee Company will always offer organic, co-op coffees and naturaldecafs .but not exclusively. "Doing the right thing" is never an absolute, nor are theterms organic, natural, etc. We think it's important to offer people a choice. We simplycan't afford the high cost of many organics. We will always pass on all the informationwe have about the origins of our coffees. And we'll never do flavored coffees. Pleasecontact us with your comments, opinions, questions and answers!
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