Caffeine: The Dirty Truth

Will that ink black cup of coffee really get you on the straight and narrow after you’ve seen the bottom of a few too many shots of Patron? Or is your daily cup of joe really dehydrating you while perking you up?

WebMD examined 8 different common beliefs about caffeine and compared them against available studies to determine if they were fact or fiction. If you’re wondering if you’re working under any misconceptions about the brew, check out their opinions.

Oh, and that sobering up bit? Sorry…no:
Actually, research suggests that people only think caffeine helps them sober up. For example, people who drink caffeine along with alcohol think they’re OK behind the wheel. But the truth is reaction time and judgment are still impaired. College kids who drink both alcohol and caffeine are actually more likely to have car accidents.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Pregnancy – Part Two

The most often used mood-altering drug around the world, caffeine has nearly an equal amount of advocates as it does detractors — it’s even moving into the holy ‘anti-oxidant’ status, previously reserved for the likes of broccoli and pomegranate.

But up for debate is how much should be consumed by pregnant mothers, and we found this interesting article that highlights different studies and their findings, with an overall recommendation that coffee consumption be either avoided or greatly reduced while pregnant.

Recipe: Coffee Liqueur

Perk up your favorite cocktail with a little homemade coffee liqueur! Our favorite is a recipe from A.J. Rathbun (author of Luscious Liqueurs):

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup instant espresso powder
  • 2 & 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans of your choice
  • 3 cups brandy
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine instant espresso powder, sugar and water in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat; stir occasionally until mixture is almost at a boil.
  2. Lower heat & keep it at a low simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat and let syrup cool completely in the pan.
  4. Put syrup, coffee beans and brandy in a glass container with a tight lid, stir well.
  5. Seal and place the container in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight.
  6. Let mixture sit for 2 weeks — swirling it occasionally.
  7. After 2 weeks, add vanilla, stir again and reseal. Let it sit again for 2 more weeks in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight.
  8. Carefully strain liqueur through a double layer of cheesecloth into a pitcher.
  9. Strain again through two new layers of cheesecloth into one large bottle or a number of smaller bottles — your preference.

Makes about 3 pints.

New! Coffee – A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying

We just got in a batch of Kenneth Davids’ seminal coffee book, Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying and we highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in an in-depth explanation of pretty much all there is to know about coffee.

Covering the entire lifecycle of your favorite bean, this book talks about history, agriculture, roasting, tasting, grinding, brewing and serving — a resource-rich compendium that will most certainly answer any coffee-related question you might have had.

Kenneth also authors the website Coffee Review, which provides detailed assessments of hundreds of different coffees from around the world. If you’re looking into trying out some new coffees, his website is definitely a place to start your research.

Decaf Coffee Secrets

If you’re like us, you might regard decaffeinated coffee as a disturbingly man-made mutation on the bland side of the flavor spectrum. Not that we’ve ever actually tasted it — we’re working largely from gross assumption here — but we often get raving reviews of Lavazza’s DEK decaffeinated coffee, so our interest was piqued: How is the caffeine removed from the bean, without it losing all it’s flavor?

We found that there are three different methods for decaffeinating coffee: Organic solvents, water or carbon dioxide. The roaster often performs each method before they begin the roasting process.