Coffee Myths EXPOSED!

Over the past several years, there’s been a lot of misinformation circulating about coffee (especially decaf) that’s either just plain wrong or misleading. One of the things DecafDivas wants to do here is to provide a place that you can come to, to find out what’s current and factual— and if you don’t see the answer to your question, send us an email and we’ll look into it!

Bogus Decaf…

For example, one of the latest controversies swirling around decaf, concerns whether decaffeinators are really removing all the caffeine they say they are. First, rest assured the decaf beans you purchase and then brew at home are decaffeinated (to the extent that anyone sensitive to caffeine should not be affected by drinking several cups of it). There is a problem though, in some coffee houses and restaurants where brewed decaf coffee has been found to contain far too much caffeine. This may be because proper precautions weren’t taken in cleaning machines prior to grinding decaffeinated beans, to avoid a contamination issue.  Or maybe the same brewing equipment used for regular coffee is used for decaf and this equipment hasn’t been properly rinsed before changing over to decaf. It’s also possible that regular coffee may sometimes get accidentally confused with decaf. Either way, it’s not the fault of the “coffee” but rather “operator error” that’s causing the problem.

This Decaf Diva is not afraid to be vocal, encouraging coffee houses to make sure their staff understands how to carefully and correctly brew a great cup of decaf. And the first step is making absolutely sure it’s decaf!

Darker Roasts Have LESS Caffeine… Darker Roasts Have MORE Caffeine…

While it is true that the darker coffee is roasted, the less caffeine it will contain, the reduction is not significant enough so that a caffeine sensitive person could drink a dark roast of regular coffee and not be affected. The fact is, you have to remove at least 97% of the caffeine in coffee for caffeine sensitive people to be able to drink a few cups and not notice it. And that’s the standard (with slight variation from country to country) that is used around the world. The differences in caffeine removal from one decaffeinator to another aren’t in the actual decaffeination process itself but in the flavor you end up with in your cup.

Conversely, some people think that because dark roasted coffee has some strong taste attributes it also is “stronger” coffee and may have more caffeine. Obviously, because of the very slight diminution in caffeine content as coffee is roasted darker, this is not the case either.

Espresso Has More Caffeine…

Likewise, with espresso, because the flavor is so much more intense, people believe that it will be more likely to keep them awake at night and that it is generally more stimulating. While espresso is more concentrated, on a serving-by-serving basis, this is not true. In fact, generally one cup of espresso has about the same amount of caffeine as one 6 oz. cup of coffee.

Coffee is not good for your Health, especially your heart… even decaf coffee!

Try as they might, researchers have not been able to find any direct or even any general links between moderate coffee consumption (less than six cups a day) and various diseases, including heart disease. In fact, over the past several years, some research findings indicate that coffee can have healthful effects for those with diabetes (and this includes decaffeinated coffee!) and for heavy drinkers, liver disease. That said, you should always consult your doctor about any concerns you have regarding any of the foods and beverages you consume and not use “common” general knowledge to manage your own specific health issues.

Another myth around coffee and a healthy heart comes from some research that came out years ago indicating that decaffeinated coffee may be bad for your heart and/or increase you cholesterol. This finding was actually an artifact not of the decaffeinated coffee, but the brewing method used. It turns out that brewing methods that do not use a paper filter leave a set of compounds in coffee called cafestols and these compounds can increase your cholesterol by as much as 25%.

Espresso and espresso based coffee drinks are a sign of true sophistication….

While espressos, lattes and cappuccinos can be delicious, and require a considerable amount of skill and experience to prepare correctly, they aren’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to coffee. In fact, if you really want to taste the coffee (and not the brewing method) sometimes the best way is to simply drip brew a single cup of coffee into a cup using just boiled water, a funnel and a rinsed paper filter. This is a preferred brewing method by many coffee professionals.  

Unless coffee is labeled with some kind of certificate, it was produced under inhumane conditions for its workers….

If you are drinking high quality coffees and paying a good price for them, chances are the workers producing those coffees were paid above average wages and have better than average working conditions. Generally, it is the low quality, low priced coffees that require workers to accept substandard pay and working conditions. Remember the old adage, “you get what you pay for?” That goes for the farmer too…