Food & Diet

Things in Your Coffee (That Aren’t Coffee)

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The quality of the coffee we drink every day has been decreasing for a while now. Since coffee supplies are not so generous, coffee producers started mixing real coffee with some other ingredients that don’t necessarily negatively affect its taste, but in most cases you can feel the drop in quality. And on top of that, the prices of coffee have gone up. So basically, you are drinking a more expensive coffee of poorer quality. On the up side, there are now tests that can accurately determine what exactly is contained in your coffee.

The so called ‘fillers’ don’t have any flavor and most of them are not harmful, but if you are buying coffee, the only natural thing is to get coffee. The U.K. Royal Botanic Gardens and the Environment published a study in 2012 which showed that there is a great chance that 70% of all the coffee in the world may not exist anymore by the year 2080 because of the changes in climate. Even Brazil, the leading country when it comes to production of coffee has seen a significant drop, as in 2014 it produced 42 billion cups of coffee less than the previous year.

So, you must be wondering what the things that end up in your coffee are. Here are some of them.

1. Barley

These are roasted barley grains that don’t contain caffeine and have a coffee-like taste. It has a slightly bitter taste with less richness of taste than espresso, but when combined with real coffee you can’t really tell that it has been put inside. In Italy, these grains are sometimes used as a substitute for coffee and many people enjoy it knowingly. But when we want coffee, give us coffee, and not some grains or other replacements.

2. Chicory

Chicory is a plant whose roots are ground and commonly used as a substitute for coffee. This plant is grown all around the world, but the biggest producers are in France and South Africa. It doesn’t contain any of the oils that are commonly contained in regular roasted coffee and it is caffeine free. Many people buy chicory individually and drink it instead of coffee, and sometimes you can find a mixture of ground coffee with ground chicory root, and some people choose to buy that mixture. However, on most ‘pure coffee’ packaging you will not see chicory as an ingredient even if it is.

3. Cocoa seeds

Coffee beans and cocoa beans are actually quite alike when it comes to their properties. Cocoa beans are ground into cocoa powder which is then roasted and husked. When cocoa is added to a coffee mixture, you will definitely feel some difference, even though you might not realize what it really is. Cocoa beans are somewhat cheaper and more available than coffee and they are commonly added to it.


4. Soybeans

This filler can be dangerous, as there are people who have soy allergies. This is where the tests that can spot the difference between pure coffee and a mixture of coffee and other ingredients come in handy. Soy is usually also dangerous for people suffering from hormonal diseases, so knowing that it is an ingredient in something we consume daily is crucial.

5. Rice

Rice is sometimes even used on its own as a replacement for coffee. It is an inexpensive substitute that can be convenient as a hot drink when you have already had enough coffee for the day. In coffee mixtures it is also used as a filler as it doesn’t actually spoil the taste of coffee, but it does spoil the quality.

6. Starch syrup

Starch syrup is a thick and translucent sugary syrup which contains a mixture of several types of sugar. In the process of production, it gets a brownish color which helps it blend perfectly with the color of coffee. This can be dangerous for people who think they are drinking pure coffee while they are actually consuming sugar (and they might have to stay away from it, if they are for instance diabetic). This is where not declaring an extra ingredient on the coffee label can be dangerous. Not to mention that starch syrup shouldn’t even be put close to coffee.

7. Wheat

Many of the instant coffee packages contain wheat as a side ingredient. This makes it dangerous for people who are gluten sensitive if they are unaware of it. Besides that, the coffee you thought was calorie-free turns out to be packed with carbohydrates, which can really disrupt your process of losing or maintaining weight.

8. Sticks

Yes, you read it right. There are sticks in your coffee! Besides that, you may also encounter twigs, husks, clumps of earth and such ingredients that shouldn’t be consumed. When ground into what the manufacturers call coffee, you can’t feel the difference. The scariest thing is that these impurities are often probably added to coffee intentionally and not by accident, according to Nixdorf and her colleagues from the State University of Londrina in Brazil.

The existing tests which can help determine the level of purity of coffee can give the testers a close look into all that is contained in this, cherished and loved by many, beverage. Grain fillers and other ingredients rich in carbohydrates are the easiest to discover because they contain different sugar levels than the ingredients that are there naturally (i.e. coffee beans). The mentioned additional ingredients are only some of many. There are some that are worse – for example mold. There actually is mold in your coffee, because coffee producers sometimes don’t pick only the healthy beans, but put even those damaged and moldy into the mixture. This leads to coffee being packed with toxins which can lead to several health complications, the worst of them being brain fog, according to Dave Asprey, the author of The Bulletproof Diet.