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F.Y.I. - (For Your Information)

Caffeine     Decaf Processes     Health Issues     Kopi Luwak

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Coffee Glossary

Caffeine is a natural substance that is present in the leaves, seeds or fruits of more than sixty plant species worldwide. Many food and beverage products made with these ingredients naturally contain caffeine. In addition, caffeine is sometimes added to foods and beverages during the manufacturing process in order to enhance flavor or, in the case of medications, to enhance effectiveness. 

The majority of literature on caffeine shows that there are no health consequences associated with coffee consumption. However, for individuals who may wish to limit their caffeine intake, it is useful to know which common foods, beverages, and medications contain caffeine and in what amounts. 

Unless they are decaffeinated, coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, and colas all contain caffeine, as do some other carbonated soft drinks.

The amount of caffeine in any single serving of coffee, tea, chocolate, or cocoa depends on a number of factors, including: 

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  the variety of coffee bean, tea leaf or cola nut
  where the bean, leaf or nut was grown 
  the particular coffee "grind" or tea leaf "cut"
  how the product is manufactured 
  the method of preparation, e.g. the:
     - length of brewing or "steeping"
     - proportion of coffee to water
  the size of the cup, mug, etc. in which the beverage is served 

Colas derive less than five percent of their total caffeine from the cola nut. Much of the caffeine they contain is added during the manufacturing process to enhance flavor, and, therefore, caffeine content is consistent within a brand from can to can or bottle to bottle.

Full-bodied, dark-roast coffee may contain less caffeine than coffee made from milder, more lightly-roasted beans. In general, arabica beans tend to have less caffeine but milder flavor than robusta beans. Also, caffeine content of prepared coffee beverages may vary depending on the supplier's recipe formula, and espresso-based beverages may have 1 or 1.5 oz of espresso as a single 'shot" depending on the retailer.

Caffeine Content of Common Foods and Beverages

Product (8 oz. except as noted)

Caffeine (Milligrams)
Brewed Coffee 60-120
Decaffeinated Coffee 2-4
Espresso/Cappuccino (1 oz.) 30-50
Tea brewed 1 minute 9-33
Tea brewed 3 minute 20-46
Tea brewed 5 minute 20-50
Iced Tea (8 oz. / 12 oz.) 15-24 / 22-36
Hot Cocoa 3-32
Milk Chocolate (1 oz.) 1-15
Dark Chocolate (1 oz.) 5-35
Jolt soda (8 oz. / 12 oz.) 47 / 71
Mountain Dew (8 oz. / 12 oz.) 36 / 54
Coca-Cola (8 oz. / 12 oz.) 31 / 46
Pepsi (8 oz. / 12 oz.) 24 / 36
Decaf Processes2

Decaffeinated coffees have seen a recent rise in popularity because the best methods produce coffee equal in taste (at a price), and because they are more readily available in increasing varieties. The aim of decaffeination is to produce a coffee that retains its aroma and taste despite the processes necessary to remove the caffeine. As most flavor components develop during roasting, coffee is almost always decaffeinated in the green bean form, before roasting.

There are three methods of decaffeination, listed from least to most costly:

  1. Chemical Solvents (either Methylene Chloride or Ethyl Acetate) - This is the most widely used method because of the lower cost, and is the method for virtually all mass produced coffees. While the lower cost is a positive, other methods are recognized to produce a better tasting coffee, and there are a growing number of consumers that prefer chemical free methods of decaffeination. 
  2. CO2 (also known as the "Sparkling Water") Process - This method gets its name from the use in the process of sparkling water, more commonly know to many as "club soda". It has gained popularity because it is considered a chemical free process and results in a quality tasting product.
  3. Water Process and Swiss Water Process - While both of these are 100% chemical free, they differ in methods and results:
    The (standard) water process results in a loss of some of the coffee components, and has a reputation for yielding coffees that do not maintain their full flavor.
    The Swiss Water Process rapidly continues to rise in popularity. And this is in despite its higher cost because it produces the best flavor compared to any other decaffeination method, and using high quality beans, is equal in taste to the best regular (caffeinated) coffees.

The Swiss Water Process is used for all decaffeinated coffees offered by Cup of Heaven.

Health Issues

Given the popularity and ever-increasing consumption rate of coffee, there have been numerous studies on its health effects. We removed a wide range of studies once included here because the results vary and appear to be influenced by who is conducting or is behind the study. We do feel confident in suggesting that you always check first with your doctor regarding how your health is related to coffee consumption.

Kopi Luwak

Kopi Luwak (or Luak) is currently the rarest and most expensive coffee available, selling for about $300 per pound and often much higher. Even at this high price, it is in such high demand, it is difficult to find in stock. Kopi Luwak means "coffee luwak" or more descriptively, coffee from the luwak. A luwak is a small feral, nocturnal member of the civet family native to Indonesia. Part of its natural diet is finding and consuming the very best and ripest coffee berries. The actual coffee beans are not digestible to the luwak, and pass through its system. The beans are said to go through a chemical transition in the luwak's digestive system, somewhat like fermentation. This is supposed to reduce the natural acidity of the beans, as well as produce other favorable characteristics according to lovers of these beans.

In the meantime, China is in the midst of a campaign to exterminate thousands of civets, despite concerns expressed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Served as a delicacy in Guangdong province wild game restaurants, an unpublished report has suggested civets are a source of the deadly SARS virus. WHO has noted that scientists have not proven the virus can be transmitted to humans by the civets, nor whether other animals or humans are in infecting the civets. There were 30 to 40 civets that did have a virus similar to SARS in a group of 600 tested, but WHO considers this to be too small of a sample to be statistically significant.

Now more than ever, drinking this coffee is a very personal choice. Proponents claim brewed Kopi Luwak yields a cup of coffee with exceptional aroma and taste. However, these beans are "harvested" by finding them in the fecal matter of the luwak -- a fact that is (no pun intended) "hard to digest" for many coffee lovers. With concerns of a yet unsubstantiated, but possible link between civets and SARS, proponents of Kopi Luwak may find this new potential risk makes the "price" just to too high.

References: National Coffee Association of USA1, Specialty Coffee Institute1, International Coffee Organization(0arts)2,  and our good friends at Morning Star Coffee.


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