|What is it?!?
1,3,7 - trimethyxanthine
Caffeine is a mild central nervous stimulant, found in over 60 species of plants and trees cultivated by humans. It is an odorless, flavorless, bitter alkaloid which varies from plant to plant. Many people consume caffeine for its benefits of increased awareness, alertness and energy (not to mention the flavor of the beverage which contains it). When taken in moderation, it increases concentration, and improves performance on both mental and physical tasks. Caffeine takes effect approximately 5 minutes after ingestion, reaching its highest level 20-30 minutes later; It takes the body anywhere from 3-6 hours to clear itself of caffeine. When this drug is respected in moderation, it can be very beneficial, as well as enjoyable. So....sit back, take a sip and read on!
How Much Caffeine is There in...
Pop, Soda, Cola or whatever you happen to call it:
|Figures are in milligrams per 12 oz. serving
(National Soft Drink Association).
|Mountain Dew &
Diet Mountain Dew
Caffeine Content in Varietals / Straight Coffees:
Caffeine content in any plant will vary depending on the sample taken, the growing region, growing conditions, etc; the figures given should viewed as estimates. (Source for some of the figures: Newsletter - Mountain Bros. Coffee Co., San Francisco)
|Figures are percent of caffeine in the beans.|
|Costa Rica Tarrazu||1.35%|
|Ethiopian Harrar - Mocha||1.13%|
|Jamaican Blue Mountain
|Mexico Pluma Altura||1.17%|
|Dark Roasted Coffees|
Caffeine Content of Coffee & Tea:
|Figures are milligrams of caffeine per serving size.|
|Robusta Coffee||5 oz.||150 - 175mg|
|Arabica Coffee||5 oz.||80 - 100mg|
|Instant Coffee||7 oz.||60 - 100mg|
|Auto-Drip||7 oz.||80 - 150mg|
|Espresso||1.5 - 2 oz. oz.||60 - 100mg|
|Teas Teas Teas Teas|
|Green Tea||8 oz.||10 - 20mg|
|Oolong Tea||8 oz.||15 - 60mg|
|Black Tea||8 oz.||30 - 120mg|
Caffeine & Your Health
Addiction & Caffeine
In moderation, caffeine can have very positive effects. It gives us more energy, clarity of thought, elevation in mood, greater physical energy, etc. Studies have clearly shown that caffeine helps produce more, and often better work, by increasing alertness and mental stamina.
The key to these and other benefits, however, is in consuming caffeine in moderation. Just exactly how much caffeine is "enough?" When is it "too much?" Well, naturally the actual amount will naturally vary from person to person. Some people can't consume caffeine at all, without experiencing some negative side effects, while others seem to be able to drink coffee all day long without any negative consequences at all.
The average dose of caffeine that can be consumed in a day without negative side effects, is between 2 - 3 cups of brewed coffee (around 160 - 300 mg) [One must also take into consideration all other caffeinated beverages and food (i.e. chocolate, soft drinks, etc) consumed in a day].
When one regularly consumes caffeine, the body becomes less sensitive to it. When caffeine intake is then reduced, blood pressure drops, causing an excess of blood in the vessels (and in the head). This results in the famous "caffeine headache." Other symptoms reported when reducing or eliminating caffeine consumption are irritability, restlessness, fatigue, inability to work, etc. These symptoms can usually be relieved with normal pain / headached relief medicines, or by simply having a cup of tea or coff (or soft drink, chocolate, etc - though coffee & tea are less threatening calorie-wise). Since there is no harm in moderate, daily consumption, these possible side effects can easily be avoided.
Too Much! (Can Caffeine Be Lethal?!)
Obviously, even a great thing like caffeine has its limit. If too much is taken in, in too short a time period, unpleasant side effects can be experienced. Nausea, confusion, excitability, etc. are some symptoms that have been reported with very large doses of caffeine. The DSM-3-R (Desk Reference to the Diognostic Criteria), used for medical / psychological diognosis, actually lists a diagnosis for caffeine intoxication:
There have even been cases where a person died from caffeine toxicity, but they are strange and rare - like an individual who died after ingesting over 3 grams of caffeine intravenously! In order for the average person to risk toxicity from caffeine, s/he would have to drink over 60 - 100 cups of strong coffee in a short period of time (the amount would be less for small children, since they metabolize caffeine slower).
Basically, consuming too much caffeine (exactly how much varies greatly), will probably be very unpleasant, but will not kill or even permanently damage you. Unless you are guzzling coffee by the gallon, or are extremely sensitive to it, there is no real danger present in that precious cup of java.
Pregnancy & Caffeine
Consuming caffeine during pregnancy has long been suspected to cause malformations and problems with the fetus. There have been studies to try and verify this; when rats ingested caffeine, it did cause some malformations. However, to compare the same rate to humans, a to-be mother would have to drink about 70 cups of coffee every day! Even taking this into consideration, it would probably still be wise to consume caffeine in moderation.
Caffeine & Osteoperosis
Over the years, there has been much debate about the relationship between caffeine and bone deterioration due to calcium loss. In the studies that were conducted, "There was a significant association between drinking caffeinated coffee and decreasing bone mineral density at both the hip and the spine..."[in women] (Journal of AMA, 26 Jan. 1994, p. 280-283). However, they went on to say that "Bone density did not vary...in women who reported drinking at least one glass of milk per day during most of their adult lives." Therefore, as long as a person regularly drinks milk (even in your café latte), there is no danger of caffeine related calcium loss.
General Health Concerns
O.K., so you love your coffee or tea, and you're wondering if it is too good to be true. Could it really be healthy to have caffeine every day, more than once? Well, many extensive studies have been conducted, and research is on our side:
When all evidence is viewed, any links between moderate coffee consumption and major health defects, such as cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, etc. have been both inconsistent and inconclusive. This is all great news to the coffee lover! Coffee is no longer considered a health hazard, as it once was; so sit back and take a sip as you peruse the rest of my site.
Tea & Caffeine
Tea, like coffee, contains caffeine. By weight, tea has more caffeine than coffee. However, since you use far less tea to make a cup than you do coffee, by the cup it has much less caffeine. There are two methods of removing caffeine from tea. The first is a chemical process, using chemicals such as benzine or dimethyl chloride. The vast majority of specialty teas on the market today are chemically treated because:
The other method of decaffeinating teas, is called natural water process. It involves compressing leaves before withering (which removes some juices and enzymes), and then steaming them (see also Tea Growing & Processing). This process is repeated until the caffeine level is reduced. This method is preferred by those wishing to avoid chemicals at any cost. It should be noted, however, that flavor is lost during this method of decaffeination.
In addition to caffeine, tea contains two other alkaloids:
Even though they are both present in tea leaves, caffeine is found in greater quantity than both theobromine and theophylline. Although tea has very little caffeine compared to coffee, the addition of these other two alkaloids probably explains why a cup of tea can still give you that "lift," without the coffee jitters.
For some people, coffee produces stomache irritability, sleeplessness and nervousness. These symptoms are most often attributed to caffeine, but can also result simply from poor quality coffee (robusta), or improperly brewed coffee which produces a bitter, highly acidic cup of coffee (see also Cupping & Coffee Terminology).
Some of you may be concerned about your caffeine consumption in general, or possibly just in the latter half of the day. Gloria Jean's Courmet Coffees offers superior quality decaffeinated coffees to serve you, so that you do not have to give up what you love about coffee...you just give up the caffeine.
How is it Done?
The decaffeinaton process (coffee) involves the removal of caffeine from coffee beans in their green state before the previous oils and flavors have been developed through roasting. This should not effect the flavor of the coffee, because caffeine is both tasteless and odorless.
Most roasters use their worst beans for decaffeination, and use a chemical solvent to remove the caffeine. During this process, the green beans are immersed in hot water, which raises the temperature of the beans and draws the caffeine to the surface. A chemical solvent is then used to extract the caffeine. The beans are rinsed, dried and sent to the roaster. However...
The CO2 Decaffeination Process:
This method is a major benefit to those who wish to avoid any form of "chemicals" in their food.
The Direct Contact Method:
This second method uses a natural occurring chemical, which avoids the suspected dangers of substances used in the past to decaffeinate coffees.
Subsequently, all the caffeine that is removed from the coffee beans does not go to waste. After removal, it is sold to other companies and you receive it in foods, soft drinks, cold medicines, stay-awake pills, etc.