Caffeine in your Coffee: one R and three B’s
You might have observed once or twice when trying out a new coffee order or a new brand that it affects you in different ways. Some can keep you buzzing and energized in one hot cup while others need two or three times that much just to have the same effect. Well, you can pin that on the caffeine. We all know what caffeine does; it keeps us awake and alert, helps lift our mood, or just as a quick energy boost. What most people do not know is that caffeine works like medicine in which its effectiveness depends upon the “dosage”.
The amount of caffeine in a single serving of coffee depends upon 4 primary factors: 1 R and 3 B’s. The R would be for the type of Roast was used for the bean. On the other hand, the three B’s stand for the Brew technique was used, the Bean that was used in brewing and finally, the Brand. These factors combined have given coffee its spectrum of flavors and caffeine levels that cater to the different tastes of coffee lovers around the world.
On brew techniques, Espressos reign supreme in the caffeine content because of its concentrate nature. Coming up second is the drip followed next by the brew. These techniques offer moderate amounts of caffeine per serving. Instant coffee hast the least amount of caffeine retained in the brewing process.
Beans and their caffeine content contrast as much as they differ in flavor and character. Beans that have come from the Latin Americas commonly have higher amounts of caffeine than those that are reaped from the Middle East. Oriental beans vary highly, depending on the country of origin.
As for brands, the caffeine content is sometimes found on the packaging. This is presented as a percentage usually ranging from 1.0% to 1.4%, which signifies the amount of caffeine per bean. The difference between percentages may seem minor but it is important for you to have a clear picture on what you are purchasing.
Light and Dark: Caffeine and Roasts
There is a popular speculation that dark roasts have more caffeine than lighter roasts. This might seem like a plausible statement as darker roasts have the stronger flavor characteristics. However, the opposite is actually the truth. To understand why, one must first familiarize one’s self with how the roasting process works and how it affects the beans.
After processing the coffee beans, they are put in an oven like machine that heats them to temperatures ranging from 165 °C (329 °F) to 245 °C (473 °F). In this process, the beans will lose up to 28% of gross weight by dehydration and the removal of some compounds like inherent acids. This is why darker roasts are less acidic. The final temperature depends upon what type of roast you want to achieve.
The beans will have its first crack, or the indication in which it emits a cracking sound and loses most of its moisture, at around 165 °C to 205 °C depending on the bean. This means the bean is ready as a light roast. The bean is still a bit acidic at this state and most of the caffeine remains intact. This gives the light roasts the highest caffeine content among the roast types. If you happen to find yourself buying New England or Cinnamon roasts, then you should know that these are light roasts and are sure to have higher concentrations of caffeine.
Between 210 °C and 225 °C, the beans cross the medium roast territory. At the latter end of this range, the second crack also happens. This is where a less audible cracking sound is heard, signifying that the bean has expanded substantially and lost all of its moisture content. Acidity and caffeine are significantly reduced as well. If you want coffee that balances between roast and origin flavors, as well as moderate amounts of caffeine per cup, then try brewing your own City or Full City roasts.
Finally, between 230 °C and 245 °C, the beans have been heated and cooked in a level that they have lost most, if not all, of their acidity and origin flavors. They now acquire full-bodied roast characteristics that are popular in European and Oriental cultures. These dark roasts also have the least amount of caffeine per serving. Popular variants of this roast include the aromatic French and Italian roasts with their almost-black beans.
Purchasing different roasts of the same origin bean can give you some idea on which roast is to your liking. Home roasting your own coffee beans can also be a great way of trying out the difference between these roasting levels. Roasting and brewing your own beans at home gives you fresher alternatives and economic advantages. You also get to have more control over the quality of your drink and experiment on your own tastes.
The Importance of Knowing
Getting to know the amount of caffeine in your coffee might seem mundane for you. Some people would just drink their one or two cups of coffee in the morning and they are good to go. For others, getting to know the specific details on their caffeine intake is important, either as a fascination or for health reasons.
Most health authorities claim that the safe amount of daily caffeine intake is around 300-400 milligrams per day. If you tally that up with the fact that a 7 oz. cup can contain an average of 100 mg of caffeine, that should give you a rough estimate of 3 to 4 cups a day. That is only a rough estimate as caffeine varies in amount depending on the factors above. By understanding these factors, you could get a clearer picture of your caffeine intake. It is always a good thing to know more about anything you are putting in your body and caffeine is no exception.
Preferences: Choosing to your Liking
In the end, choosing which roast you prefer all boils down to your predilections. Do you like stronger, tart flavors with a quick pick-me-up with one drink? Then the light roast is perfect for you. Alternatively, would you rather leisurely enjoy two or three cups a day with bittersweet roasted tones? If that were the case, a cup of French roast would be a perfect addition to your daily routine. No matter what you choose, you should always enjoy your coffee in moderation, as with all of life’s simple pleasures.