29th
Jun
2015

Posted in Kafevend Blog

Last week, we had a look at the methods and reasoning behind coffee roasting and how it affects its taste. Today, we are going to take a look at one of the reasons that so many people drink the stuff in the first place- namely to get that caffeine kick! For some, the great taste of coffee is what they're after in a cup. Whilst they'd like others to develop the same passion for the bean, there's no denying that many of us are just looking for a pick me up- but how does caffeine do this, and is it worthwhile?

So what is it caffeine does to produce that world renowned buzz? Caffeine competes in our bodies with something called adenosine. Our bodies produce adenosine throughout the day and as it gradually binds to adenosine receptors, one of its main effects is to cause us to become drowsy, thus promoting sleep. Caffeine muscles in on its turf by binding itself to certain types of adenosine receptors. Unlike adenosine, caffeine doesn't cause drowsiness- quite the opposite! The blood vessels constrict and neural activity increases. The body releases adrenaline in response to the heightened activity causing a further peak. As you might have already guessed, it isn't all good news. It's always important to remember that caffeine is a drug, even if it is legal, and it's worth keeping in mind it has a number of potentially negative effects.

For those just looking to enjoy the taste of coffee but avoid the effects of caffeine, there is, of course, always the decaf option. There are several ways that this is achieved, though all involve the use of water in one way or another and use green beans. Certain chemicals such as ethyl acetate are also used in order to specifically extract caffeine. An example of one of these processes is the indirect method: the coffee is soaked in hot water for a few hours before being removed. A chemical, like ethyl acetate as we mentioned earlier, is then added to the water to remove the caffeine. This process is then repeated with the same water and new sets of beans until an equilibrium is formed, where the only thing the water is extracting is the caffeine and not all the oils and other tasty bits!

Caffeine isn't just found in coffee of course. Our other favourite hot drink tea contains it as well, along with other popular items like cocoa and chocolate, and soft drinks such as Coca Cola which use the kola nut. Coffee is the king however when it comes to caffeine content. A cup of instant has around double the amount compared to a cup of tea, and certain methods of preparation such as filtering increase the amount even more.

As ever, we hope you've found this article interesting and learnt a thing or two about your favourite drink. Be sure to tune in later in the week when we'll be taking a look at how we grind our coffee!

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