What’s Really in That Coffee You’re Drinking?
This isn’t a story about whether that double soy latte you ordered really has an extra squirt of espresso. It’s about how much filler is in your cup. And we’re not talking about chicory.
Coffee is becoming a scarce commodity, thanks to climate change and other factors, which makes it more expensive, which in turn gives coffee marketers an economic incentive to do whatever they can to stretch the supply with fillers.
Chicory, widely used in New Orleans and the Acadian parishes of Louisiana, was perhaps the original filler in the U.S. But the locals decided they liked the slight peppery taste it added to coffee and it’s now looked upon as a condiment rather than a money-saver.
But for the rest of us, we’d like our coffee straight, thanks — without corn, barley, wheat or other common fillers. This may be getting a little easier thanks to a new test that’s being outlined this week at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Francisco.
“With our test, it is now possible to know with 95% accuracy if coffee is pure or has been tampered with, either with corn, barley, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, acai seed, brown sugar or starch syrup,” said research team leader Suzana Lucy Nixdorf, Ph.D., of the State University of Londrina in Brazil
The problem, she explains, is that “after roasting and grinding the raw material, it becomes impossible to see any difference between grains of lower cost incorporated into the coffee, especially because of the dark color and oily texture of coffee.”