Humans are the only life forms on Earth that seek out and consume caffeine for both its stimulatory and psychological effects. All other life forms know caffeine as a potent toxin capable of sterilization, phytotoxicity and anti-fungal properties. Caffeines intensely bitter taste has evolved as a primitive defense mechanism to discourage anything that would consume it, ensuring that coffee would survive for thousands of years in the wild, but for some reason, many humans desire the taste other creatures avoid.
There are more than 1,500 chemical compounds in finished coffee.300 heterocyclic compounds contribute to flavor and are responsible for producing the sweet/caramel/earthy- like aromas commonly found in coffee. There are over 550 additional compounds after roasting. The increase is almost three fold. For example, during coffee’s roasting process undesirable compounds such as Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and benzene are formed and later transferred to the brew. Their molecular and physiological effects, and interactions between compounds are areas of research that interest me most. Many aromatic compounds are carcinogens that increase the risk of cancer and other illnesses.
Finished coffee contains 60 Aromatic benzenoid compounds. Of all pollutants, Benzene is widespread in extremely small amounts and does the most harm. When benzopyrene are added, the total is entirely too much for the liver to detoxify and these solvents accumulate in the thymus, where they ruin the immune system. If benzene is present in the body, the intestinal flatworm uses the thymus for its secondary host, setting the stage for AIDS. Benzene is a notorious cause of bone marrow abnormalities and failure. Substantial quantities of epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory data link benzene to aplastic anemia and acute leukemia. Other major sources of benzene exposure are tobacco smoke, automobile service stations, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions; however, ingestion of benzene can also occur by consuming grilled or smoked foods, contaminated water, and commercially prepared beverages like coffee, soda, and tea. Benzopyrene is made in food that is exposed to direct flame or extremely high heat, like roasting coffee at nearly 500 degrees. Human exposure to benzene and benzopyrene is a global health problem. These solvents target liver, kidney, lungs, heart and the brain, and can cause DNA strand breaks and chromosomal damage.
23 Thiophens are in finished coffee. Thiophene was discovered as a contaminant in benzene. The thiophens are known to have a meaty aroma and are produced from a chemical reaction between sulfur containing amino acids and reducing sugars in the presence of heat, producing a form of non-enzymatic browning. Thiophenes are important heterocyclic compounds (whose molecule contains a ring of atoms of at least two elements - one of which is generally carbon) widely used as building blocks in many agro-chemicals and pharmaceuticals, i.e. NSAID non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Thiophenones are an active ingredient in medications used in the control of Staphylococcus epidermidis Infections by inhibiting biofilm formation.
Coffee contains 10 Quinoxalines, also called a benzopyrazine, in organic chemistry, which is a heterocyclic compound containing made up of a benzene ring and a pyrazine ring (see below). Quinoxaline derivatives are used as dyes, pharmaceuticals, and antibiotics such as olaquindox, carbadox, echinomycin, levomycin and actinoleutin. It has anti-tumor effects.
3 Indoles & 2 Quinolines - heteroaromatic compound (an organic compound with a ring structure that is both heterocyclic and aromatic) with fused benzene and pyrrole (see below).
Your cup of java contains 20 Alicyclic aromatic compounds. Of these, Xylenes are produced by the methylation of toluene and benzene, and is related to benzene. Xylene is in coffee, but also in carbonated beverages. Xylene and toluene are common brain solvents always seen in Multiple Sclerosis cases, which is a disease of the brain and spinal cord. Any of the four common fluke parasites and Shigella bacteria are also responsible. When an organ contains solvents, it allows parasites to multiply there. Parasites bring with them their own entourage of bacteria and viruses. This is how disease takes hold in the body. Xylene is a skin irritant and strips the skin of its oils, making it more permeable to other chemicals. This contributes to the development of or exacerbates Leaky gut. p-Xylene is the principal precursor to terephthalic acid and dimethyl terephthalate, both monomers used in the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles and polyester clothing. 98% of p-xylene production, and half of all xylenes produced are consumed in this manner. Xylene is used as a solvent. Areas of application include the printing, and leather industries. It is a common component of ink, rubber, adhesives, paint thinners and varnishes. Similarly it is a cleaning agent, i.e., for steel, silicon wafers, and integrated circuits. In dentistry, xylene can be used to dissolve gutta percha, a material used for root canal treatments. In the petroleum industry, xylene is a frequent component of paraffin solvents, and it is the active ingredient in ear wax removal products. The main effect of xylene is depression of the central nervous system, with symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Long-term exposure to low levels of xylene may lead to migraine headaches, irritability, depression, insomnia, agitation, extreme tiredness, tremors, impaired concentration, short-term memory, a decrease in balance, coordination, and reaction times. This condition is sometimes generally referred to as "organic solvent syndrome". If xylene is present in the body it invites any of four fluke parasites to use the brain as a secondary host.
9 Pyridines are in finished coffee. 60% of the initial trigonelline (an alkaloid) in coffee decomposes during roasting, leading to the formation of carbon dioxide, water and the development of a large class of aromatic compounds called pyridines. Pyridine is a basic heterocyclic organic compound that is structurally related to benzene. Pyridines are components of volatile organic compounds that are produced in roasting coffee, as well as frying chicken, potato chips and bacon. Cigarette smoke contains pyridine. It can be synthesized from acetaldehyde and ammonia. Pyridine is used as a precursor to agro-chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and is also an important solvent and reagent. It is used in the synthesis of sulfapyridine (a drug against bacterial and viral infections), antihistaminic drugs, as well as water repellents, bactericides, and herbicides. Pyridine easily dissolves in water and harms both animals and plants in aquatic systems. Imagine what pyridine will do to the friendly flora in your intestines. Pyridine is harmful if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Effects of acute pyridine intoxication include dizziness, headache, lack of coordination, nausea, salivation, and loss of appetite. They may progress into abdominal pain, pulmonary congestion and unconsciousness. Pyridine may also have minor neurotoxic, genotoxic, and clastogenic effects. Neurotoxin is a poison that acts on the nervous system. Genotoxic describes a poisonous substance which harms an organism by damaging its DNA. Clastogen can cause breaks in chromosomes that result in the gain, loss, or rearrangements of chromosomal segments and sister chromatid strand exchanges during DNA replication.
28 Thiazoles and 28 Oxazoles are aromatic compounds and as members of the azoles, they have anti-fungal properties and are part of medications you may recognize the name of like Fluconazole. Anti-fungal medications cause Candida to mutate and dive deeper into the body, where it waits in stealth mode for you to discontinue the medication and then comes back at you with a vengeance. Candida adapts to anti-fungals and renders the medication useless as a future Candida fighting strategy. Also, the process I just explained advances Systemic Candidiasis into the next stage. Thifluzamide, Tricyclazole, and Thiabendazole are marketed for control of various agricultural pests. Another widely used thiazole derivative is the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Meloxicam. Oxazole is a volatile liquid with weak basic properties that serves as the basis of a number of medicinal drugs. Thiazoles are formed via sugar degradation.
70 Pyrazines - are the second most abundant class of aromatic compounds and contribute to the roasted, walnut, cereal, cracker, or toast-like flavors in coffee. Along with thiazoles, pyrazines have the lowest odor threshold and therefore significantly contribute to coffee aroma.
37 Pyrroles - Pyrrole is a volatile aromatic heterocycle, like furan (see below) and thiophene. Pyrrole compounds possess a nutty odor and red color, responsible for some of the sweet, caramel-like, and mushroom-like aromas in coffee. Pyrrole is a precursor to the drug tolmetin and also in several drugs, including atorvastatin, ketorolac, and sunitinib. Pyrroles are classed as 'nerve poisons' and as such can cause damage to nerves, nerve cells and tissue, and they can interrupt messages being sent along your nerves especially within your brain, predisposing to ADD/ADHD and autism, learning disabilities, bi-polar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, criminal behavior, and substance abuse. Pyrrole disorder is a biochemical imbalance involving an abnormality in haemoglobin synthesis that can be acquired through environmental and emotional stress, the over use of antibiotics, and especially from ‘leaky gut syndrome’.
74 Furans - Furan is found in heat-treated commercial foods and is produced through thermal degradation of natural food constituents, including roasted coffee, instant coffee, and processed baby foods. Furan is highly volatile and listed as toxic and a possible human carcinogen.
16 Phenols - Phenolic compounds are volatile and mildly acidic with disinfectant properties, and a propensity to cause chemical burns. Phenol is a versatile precursor to a large collection of drugs, most notably aspirin but also many herbicides and pharmaceutical drugs. Phenols, also known as carbolic acid, is an aromatic organic compound with antiseptic properties, is used as a preservative in some vaccines and was once widely used as an antiseptic. Its corrosive effect can cause damage to mucous membranes due to a protein-degenerating effect. The herbicidal properties kill beneficial bacterial populations. Phenol may have harmful effects on the central nervous system and heart, resulting in dysrhythmia, seizures, and coma. Long-term or repeated exposure to the substance may have harmful effects on the liver and kidneys.
10 Hydrofurans, 9 Sulfur containing compounds and 150 Aliphatic non-aromatic compounds
56 Carbonyl compounds - ketones, aldehydes, ester and amides.
- 10 Ketones - Ketones are naturally occurring in coffee, but also generated from carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids in the blood (ketosis) after fasting, including a night of sleep; in both blood and urine in starvation; in hypoglycemia, due to causes other than hyperinsulinism, in ketoacidosis (usually due to diabetes mellitus), in various inborn errors of metabolism, and intentionally induced via the Candida diet and ketogenic diet.
- Aldehyde - Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde are naturally occurring aldehydes in coffee as part of its chemical makeup. Formaldehyde and Acetaldehyde are carcinogens. Acetaldehyde is also produced by the partial oxidation of ethanol by the liver enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase and may be a contributing factor to hangovers from alcohol consumption. Acetaldehyde is produced by Candida yeast as a byproduct of their digestion of glucose in the human host. This wreaks havoc on the liver. Some people have a deficiency of the enzyme responsible for the conversion of acetaldehyde into acetic acid, or nutritional deficiency that prevents this process and acetaldehyde builds up in the body.
- Esters are responsible for the aroma of fruits and other plants. Lactones contribute to the aroma of butter, cheese and various foods and fruits. Of all plant constituents, coffee has one of the highest concentrations of chlorogenic acids. When roasting coffee, some of these are transformed into chlorogenic acid lactones The reactions of lactones are similar to those of esters. Chlorogenic acid lactones, which include about 10 different chemicals in coffee, are the dominant source of bitterness in light to medium roast brews. Phenylindanes, which are the chemical breakdown products of chlorogenic acid lactones, are found at higher levels in dark roasted coffee, including espresso, and their bitterness is harsher than that of the chlorogenic acid lactones – explaining the bitterness of espresso coffee.
- Acrylamide in food is both carcinogenic (cancer causing) and genotoxic (can damage the genetic material of cells) and is a substance that forms when coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures. The darker the roast, the higher the levels of acrylamide are likely to be. In fact, coffee has been shown to be one of the major sources of this dangerous chemical in American diets. This toxic chemical has been found in cigarette smoke, along with dozens of other toxic chemicals. Acrylamide is a toxic substance that forms when foods containing simple carbohydrates and the amino acid asparagine are cooked together at high temperatures. Homemade or processed foods that have been fried, grilled, toasted or baked, like potato chips, french fries, burnt toast and baked, grilled or roasted carbohydrate foods are the most likely to contain acrylamide. The longer the cooking time and the higher the temperature, the more potential for acrylamide to form. Levels increase the more cooked and burnt the food is. The darker the toast, fries, chips, cookies etc, the worse it may be for exposure to this potentially dangerous compound. Small amounts of acrylamide are also used in water treatment, but the levels of this chemical in our drinking water are said to be strictly monitored and regulated. However, acrymlamide levels in common foods are significantly higher (sometimes as much as 500 times higher). When you consider that many these foods, with all the simple carbohydrates, sugar, salt and hydrogenated fats, are known to be unhealthy in their own right, acrylamide just adds further harm. This makes the case that much stronger for eating higher quality foods that are clean and nutritious in their most natural whole food form. Replace fried, roasted, baked at high temperatures, and processed foods with better alternatives, like lightly steamed vegetables, sprouted seeds and nuts and low sugar/high fiber whole fruits for snacks.
Coffee contains alcohols - ethanol and methanol, as solvents, possess denaturing (proteins lose structure, resulting in disruption of cell activity and premature cell death) properties, leading to their use as anti-microbial agents in medicine, pharmacy, perfumes, and industry as reagents, preservatives or solvents.
- Ethanol is used as an antiseptic in soaps and hand sanitizers to disinfect, but do not require drying due to the volatility of the compound. Ethanol's toxicity is largely caused by its primary metabolite, acetaldehyde, which is oxidized to formaldehyde and then to the poisonous formic acid (antibacterial) by alcohol dehydrogenase in the liver, in an attempt to create a less toxic or poisonous substance. Studies have shown increased cancer risk from consumption or the presence of ethanol. Ethanol occurs naturally as a byproduct of the metabolic process of yeast and is present in any yeast habitat.
- Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, denatured alcohol and wood alcohol, is highly toxic and unfit for human consumption. It is used in antifreeze, solvent and fuel production. Methanol is toxic by two mechanisms. First, whether it enters the body by ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin, methanol can be fatal due to its central nervous system depressant properties in the same manner as ethanol poisoning. Second, in the detoxification process, methanol is metabolized first to formaldehyde and then to formic acid or formate salts. Formate is toxic because it inhibits mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase, causing oxygen deficiency (hypoxia) at the cellular level, and metabolic acidosis, among a variety of other metabolic disturbances. These are poisonous to the central nervous system and may cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve, coma, and death. Additionally, if wood alcohol is present in the body, it invites pancreatic fluids to use the pancreas as a secondary host, leading to pancreatic dysfunction and diabetes.
Acetic acid and formic acid are metabolized and eliminated by the body, if certain dietary requirements are available, but they have specific toxic effects, including nerve damage, kidney damage, and is mutagenic causing genetic mutations in bacteria, and carcinogenic. These acids are corrosive and can cause tissue damage. Formic acid and acetic acid are responsible for the perceived acidity of coffee. The perceived acidity of coffee results from the proton donation of acids to receptors on the human tongue. The pH of a coffee has been found to correlate with the perceived acidity in coffee. Formic acid is 10x stronger than acetic acid (vinegar) and is the component of stings by fire ants, bees, wasps, hornets and nettles.
Nitrogenous compounds and Amines are formally derivatives of ammonia.
Water, Minerals, Carbohydrates, Proteins, Lipids
Waxes & Oils - There are hundreds of oils in coffee, and although very important to flavor and aroma, they are some of the less studied chemicals to date. Oils are one of the few chemicals in coffee that change over time during storage of the green coffee beans, and Arabica has over 50% more oils than Robusta, which is thought to contribute to aroma as well as taste differences. The majority of oils in a coffee bean are in the inner endosperm, not the waxy outer covering of the bean.
Alkaloids are any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds of plant origin that have pronounced physiological actions on humans. Nitrogenous organic compounds include many drugs (morphine, quinine) and poisons (atropine, strychnine). Caffeine is an alkaloid. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class. Coffee is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug, which is why the world produces more than 16 billion pounds of coffee beans per year. Unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world. There are several known mechanisms of action to explain the effects of caffeine. The most prominent is that it blocks the action of adenosine on its receptor and prevents the onset of drowsiness induced by adenosine. Caffeine also stimulates certain portions of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic effects of regular caffeine use include increased blood pressure and heart rate. Caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, increased heart and breathing rate, headache, anxiety, agitation, ringing in the ears, and irregular heartbeats, increase total cholesterol, increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and increased triglycerides. This can increase the risk of developing hypertension/high blood pressure, and also raises the level of homocysteine, all of which are associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Some research suggests an association between heart attacks and drinking coffee. The most important change you can make to reverse high blood pressure is to stop consuming caffeine, as in coffee (even decaf), tea, energy drinks, Vivarin or carbonated beverages. Try Chaga or dandelion root tea! Blood pressure is mainly controlled by the adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys. Whatever affects the kidneys is going to affect the adrenals too. Caffeine raises cortisol, insulin, blood pressure and heart rate. If you add sugar or a doughnut, the effect is intensified. Using artificial sweetener adds insult to injury. Caffeine increases urine output and can increase the amount of calcium that is flushed out in the urine. This can weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis. Caffeine makes tissues more permeable, allowing parasites, viruses and bacteria in the body to spread more easily and invade other systems. Caffeine can produce a mild form of drug dependence – associated with withdrawal symptoms such as sleepiness, headache, and irritability – when an individual stops using caffeine after repeated daily intake. Coffee is harmful when given rectally as an enema. Coffee enemas have been linked to cases of severe side effects including death. The purpose of caffeine for the plant is defensive, because as insects attack the coffee cherry, they are deterred by the bitter taste of caffeine and simply move on to other crops.
Fatigue will drive us to try quick fix methods, extreme measures and ineffective strategies that often times cause the same effect we are trying to remedy. It makes sense that people will go for caffeine, because it appears to give energy. Caffeine is the primary drug of choice for a world that is moving at a fast pace. We are wired and tired. Caffeine pulls the body away from its natural metabolism and causes fatigue or makes it worse. We either turned more and more to caffeine to get more energy or increased caffeine led us to fatigue. When a fatigued person uses caffeine, it slows down the healing process. Coffee is one of those ways that people try to avoid fatigue by artificially stimulating themselves. Caffeine provides a false sense of energy, by keeping cortisol levels up and that further stresses the body. It's like driving a car and keeping the RPM's of the engine unnaturally high. People fear fatigue, because they fear lack of $ = a lack of security in life. If they can’t work due to fatigue, they can’t make $. We keep pushing and stimulating ourselves with caffeine and sugar, which will eventually crash us. This is why we’ve got to welcome fatigue. Stop fearing, fighting and attacking it, and making it the enemy. Fatigue is a symptom that’s telling us the way we are doing life doesn’t work for us anymore. Fatigue is our friend, because it insists that we rest and take care of ourselves. Stimulants are creating the effect we are trying to remedy, so to get different results, we must change our strategy, stop the cycle and do those things that promote healing = relaxation. Then natural energy will be restored.
Sympathetic nervous system dominance (the stress response) is the opposite state of where healing of nervous system and body tissue happens. To heal fatigue, we need to increase parasympathetic nervous system dominance, because that’s what the body is insisting by going into fatigue. Caffeine may not be the cause of your fatigue, but if you are trying to manage your fatigue with caffeine, it will keep pushing you away from the healing process. The most extreme example of this is sleep deprivation. If you want to ruin the health and emotional state of a human being, don’t let them sleep for 4 days. They will go insane, become anxious, depressed, show every kind of mental instability and have immune issues. Lack of sleep is the same as lack of parasympathetic nervous system dominance (the relaxation response) which is where the body rejuvenates, recharges and repairs itself. All life forms and systems have periods of activity and periods of dormancy. There are no exceptions!
Of the over 1,500 compounds in coffee, less than 30 have been subjected to thorough research to determine their adverse health effects, including their potential carcinogenic classification. On the other hand, physiological effects are well documented, especially the stimulant effects of caffeine. Health claims for individual chemicals, or compound synergies are speculative and unproven, and research to reveal any negative effects have been avoided.
Benefit claims:Coffee may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, gallstones and kidney stones. You’ve already read how coffee may cause kidney damage, but the oxalic acid in coffee is one of the ingredients in kidney and gallbladder stones. You may have noticed that Quinoxalines is said to have anti-tumor effects. That pales in comparison to the fact that coffee contains an overwhelming number of cancer causing compounds. Coffee is said to be a source of antioxidants like chlorogenic acid that may help with weight loss and Green Coffee Bean Extract, particularly high in this antioxidant, are the latest popular supplement for body fat reduction. Your coffee has zero calories, fat, carbs, etc. What it does have is solvents, which are detrimental to health and gut flora. Gut flora have a profound impact on metabolism and weight loss or weight gain. In the longer term it has been associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. In fact, despite some potential longer term benefits, for many people coffee consumption may be having some very negative effects on our health in the present, particularly on our digestive system and stress levels.
If coffee had to get FDA approval today, it would be classified as a DRUG. You've read how many of the chemical components in coffee are also used to make pharmaceuticals. Seriously - what's the difference? There isn't any! This chemical cocktail is wreaking havoc on the systems of the body so slowly that people are oblivious to it and they are so addicted that they refuse to face fact.
Coffee is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world.Here are just some of the more common pesticide chemicals used on coffee farms to control major pests and pathogens. Even though many chemicals that have been found to be harmful to the environment have been banned or are strictly regulated in the U.S. and Europe, they remain legal to use in less-developed countries, including many countries that grow coffee.
- Endosulfan (brand name Thiodan) is used against the coffee cherry borer beetle. Though slated to be banned globally in 2011, Endosulfan has continued to be used around the world and it may take years to completely break down in the soil. Its breakdown products are more persistent than the parent compounds, making it toxic to mammals, birds, and fish. It effects the central nervous system, and causes kidney, testes, and liver damage. It has caused hundreds of poisonings and many deaths among workers in Columbia.
- Chlorpyrifos (brand name Dursban). A broad spectrum organophosphate used against the coffee cherry borer and coffee leaf miner. In 2000, the U.S. EPA banned most household uses. It is a contact poison that has caused human deaths, and has been linked to birth defects. It is extremely toxic to birds, freshwater and marine organisms, bees, and other wildlife. It can bioaccumulate and effect reproduction.
- Diazinon (brand name Basudin) is used against the coffee borer. It is highly toxic to wildlife and beneficial insects, and acutely toxic to birds. In the U.S. where it is still commonly used on turf grass, diazinon has caused the second largest number of total known incidents of bird mortality of any pesticide.
- Disulfoton is a systemic organophosphate insecticide used against the leaf miner. In the U.S., its use is restricted due to its high toxicity to mammals by all routes of exposure. It is also highly toxic to birds and fish. It is delivered in granular form, which poses the threat of runoff and contamination of other crops when applied on slopes, on which coffee is often grown. It degrades or is metabolized by plants into harmful compounds that are very persistent in the environment. It is classified as “Class 1a,” extremely hazardous (highest toxicity) by the World Health Organization.
- Methyl parathion (a.k.a. ethyl parathion, parathion) is a organophosphate used against the leaf miner. It is one of the most toxic pesticides, highly restricted in U.S. It is highly toxic to birds, animals and fish. Persistent in soil and will bioaccumulate. The Pesticide Action Network reports that there is evidence that methyl parathion is not used safely in Central America and is regularly misused in developing countries. It is classified as “Class 1a,” extremely hazardous (highest toxicity) by the World Health Organization.
- Triadimefon (brand name Bayleton) is a copper-based fungicide used against coffee rust. Only slightly toxic to birds, little is known about its effect on humans, but it is suspected that there is potential for reproductive problems with chronic exposure. It has been found to induce hyperactivity in rats. The major concern is that long-term use will result in copper accumulation in soils, such as been found in coffee farms in Kenya and in Costa Rica, where copper toxicity has been found in other crops grown in these soils, and copper impacts other biochemical and biological processes in soil. Little is known about the long-term effects in tropical ecosystems.
- Cypermethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid used against the coffee cherry borer. Birds that ingest contaminated insects die. It is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms.
My point is, everything that comes in contact with what you ingest, especially during the growing phase, becomes part of the food and then part of you. Everything that comes in contact with the earth, especially the worlds water cycle, ends up in you. What ends up in you, gets recycled back into the ecosystem. Everything profoundly affects everything else.
So, decaf is better - right? Actually, its worse.Millions of Americans drink decaf coffee to get that perfectly bitter taste without all the jitters, but decaf does have caffeine. In order for coffee to qualify as decaffeinated, FDA regulations specify that it must have at least 97 percent of its caffeine removed. What does that amount to? An eight-ounce cup of decaf coffee would have no more than five or fewer milligrams (mg) of caffeine (compared to the range of 40 to 180 mg typically found in one eight-ounce cup of brewed, dripped, or percolated java. While 97 percent of the caffeine must be removed, the caffeine content of the more “robust” Robusta species is almost double that of the more delicate Arabica, so the Robusta bean will have more caffeine left over than the Arabica bean after the decaffeination process is completed, which can lead to a lot of variance among brands. Coffee in America generally contains one or a blend of two bean types – the hardy Robusta bean and the sweeter, delicate Arabica bean. Robusta beans harsh taste is often considered inferior. Instant coffee brands like Folgers and Maxwell House tend to be Robusta blends, while coffee houses like Caribou and Starbucks pride themselves on their pure Arabica beans. There is no such thing as coffee with zero caffeine in it or caffeine-free. Beverages should only be considered ‘caffeine-free’ if there was never any caffeine in the ingredients to begin with. Coffee and non-herbal teas should not be labeled caffeine-free. Decaf coffee goes stale almost twice as fast as regular coffee.
Coffee beans are decaffeinated by softening the beans with water and using a substance to extract the caffeine. Water alone cannot be used because it strips away too much of the flavor. The goal is to extract the caffeine with minimal loss of flavor. Substances used to remove the caffeine may directly or indirectly come in contact with the beans, and so the processes are referred to as direct or indirect decaffeination.
The first decaffeination method was developed in the early 1900s, which used a repetitive rinsing process aided by the chemical benzene, which is no longer used because it is a known cancer-causing agent. Benzene is still in the finished product due to the roasting process, so nothing’s really changed. Of course, the F.D.A. is okay with benzene also being in soft drinks in remarkably high amounts, and in all microwaved foods.
Other early decaffeination efforts were abruptly terminated because the toxic solvent chloroform was used in the process. Another solvent, trichloroethylene, was used in the 1970s and then found to be carcinogenic, so it is no longer used. The industry then switched to dichloromethane. It became the solvent of choice in the early 1970's, because of its 'lower toxicity,' but it soon became public knowledge that dichoromethane was carcinogenic too, and its use came to a rapid halt. Methylene chloride, is not often used any longer, because it is alleged to cause cancer in humans.
The indirect decaffeination method.
- Indirect decaffeination process - coffee beans are soaked in water to soften them and dissolve the caffeine. The water containing the caffeine (and the flavor from the beans) is treated with a solvent, heated to remove the solvent and caffeine, and then returned to the beans. The flavors in the water are reabsorbed by the beans, which are then dried. This beans never touch the solvent themselves.
- Another indirect method soaks the beans in water to soften them and remove the caffeine, and then runs the liquid through activated charcoal or carbon filters to decaffeinate it. The flavor containing fluid is then returned to the beans to be dried. This charcoal or carbon process is often called "Swiss water process". This coffee is labeled naturally decaffeinated or Swiss water processed.
The common solvents used on the coffee beans include methylene chloride (aka methyl chloride and chloromethane), ethyl acetate, and highly pressurized carbon dioxide.
- Today, many brands use the Direct Process, which involves the chemical methyl chloride, aka chloromethane (a poison called by a different name is still a poison). Methyl chloride has the least affect on taste because of the way the chemical bonds with the alkaloids in caffeine. It leaves the other organic material alone, resulting in a superior tasting coffee. Methyl chloride, is listed as a carcinogen by the National Cancer Institute, but FDA regulations consider up to 10 parts per million (ppm) to be safe for consumption. Trace amounts of the chemical have been found in decaf coffee brews, but most blends are said to have a concentration at or below 1 ppm. A small amount of poison is still poison, which consumed daily has cumulative effects. It is a constituent of tobacco smoke. As a gas, methyl chloride produces central nervous system effects similar to drug intoxication. Exposure may cause drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, difficulty breathing, walking or speaking. At higher concentrations, paralysis, seizures, and coma can result. Ingestion causes nausea and vomiting. Chronic exposure to chloromethane (Methyl chloride) has been linked to birth defects in mice. In humans, exposure to chloromethane during pregnancy may cause the fetus' lower spinal column, pelvis, and legs to form incorrectly.
- The most widely used solvent today is ethyl acetate, a substance found in many fruits. Ethyl acetate is the most common ester in wine, being the product of volatile organic acetic acid and the ethyl alcohol generated during fermentation. When your coffee label states that the beans are "naturally decaffeinated," it is referring to this process, specifically using ethyl acetate. Although it really isn’t a natural process, it can be labeled “Natural Process" because the solvent occurs in nature. Ethyl acetate may be a natural substance found in fruits, but there is a difference between the naturally occurring Ethyl acetate in fruit and the chemical copy produced by industry. The industrial version is ethyl acetate ester of ethanol and acetic acid, which is manufactured or synthesized on a large scale for use as a solvent by combining ethanol and acetic acid or by combining two equivalents of acetaldehyde in the presence of an alkoxide catalyst. Ethyl acetate is a colorless liquid with a characteristic sweet smell and is used in glues, nail polish removers, decaffeinating coffee and tea, and as an additive in cigarettes. It is a carcinogen and one of the most frequently found toxins in cancer cases. Ethyl acetate is used primarily as a solvent and diluent, being favored because of its low cost, low toxicity, and agreeable odor. For example, it is commonly used to clean circuit boards. It is also used in paints as an activator or hardener. In perfumes, it evaporates quickly, leaving only the scent of the perfume on the skin.
- The coffee beans are soaked in compressed carbon dioxide at 250 - 300 times normal atmospheric pressure. It is a very effective solvent at extremely high pressures, so the caffeine dissolves into the solvent. The solvent containing the extracted caffeine is said to evaporate when the beans return to room temperature. This is technically another chemical method of decaffeination.
After the green beans are moistened, they are immersed into the chosen solvent. After the solvent performs its chemical reaction, the beans are rinsed with water. The final decaffeination phase is steaming the beans. Proponents of this decaffeination process tell us the rinsing and steaming processes remove all of the chemicals. If that were so, then why was it previously necessary to switch from benzene, chloroform and other toxins, which were also supposedly steamed-out? Inadequate labeling makes it difficult to choose coffee based on the method used to decaffeinate it. You must decide if trace amounts of these chemical solvents should be taken into your body via coffee and allowed to bioaccumulate.
11 Side Effects of Drinking Coffee1. Hydrochloric Acid
Drinking coffee on an empty stomach stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid (HCI), which should only be produced to digest meals. If your body has to make HCl more often in response to regular cups of coffee, it will have difficulty producing enough to deal with a meal.
In particular, protein digestion is profoundly adversely affected by a lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, causing protein foods to pass into the small intestine before being properly broken down. Undigested protein is associated in a variety of health problems, from food allergies, bloating and gas to IBS, diverticulitis, colon cancer and dozens of other health issues. Health and disease begins in the gut, so it's important to eliminate anything that interferes with its proper functioning.
2. Heartburn Problems
Coffee relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter contributing to the development of acid reflux and heartburn. This small muscle should remain tightly closed once you've eaten to prevent the contents of your stomach from coming back into the esophagus and burning its delicate lining with hydrochloric acid. Even decaf regularly causes heartburn problems for some people and researchers think other compounds in coffee can also contribute to acid reflux problems.
3. Ulcers, IBS and Acidity
Many of the compounds in coffee, including caffeine and the various acids found in coffee beans can irritate your stomach and the lining of your small intestine. It’s known to be a problem for those suffering from ulcers, gastritis, IBS, Crohn's and Leaky gut, and I advise clients with these conditions to avoid coffee and all sources of caffeine completely. I believe coffee consumption contributes to the development of these health issues, in the first place?
Ulcers are caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, but the acidic effect coffee on the stomach weakens the stomach lining making it easy for H. pylori to take hold initially.
Drinking coffee also irritates the lining of the small intestine, potentially leading to abdominal spasms, cramps and elimination problems, often alternating between constipation and diarrhea. This condition is known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and which is being diagnosed for frequently in recent decades.
4. Coffee as a Laxative
People who consume refined, processed foods have difficulty with elimination and may be dependent on caffeine, which stimulates bile, which then stimulates peristalsis; the process in the digestive tract that moves its contents toward the exit and makes us head for the bathroom. So, they need that first cup of coffee in the morning to have a bowel movement. Some people use coffee enemas as a laxative, but there’s a problem with this. By stimulating peristalsis, coffee also promotes increased gastric emptying, whereby the stomach's contents are quickly passed into the small intestines, often before the digesting food has been properly broken down.
Partially digested food is much more difficult for the absorption of nutrients, feeds pathogenic bacteria which produces gas, and slows motility, contributing to more constipation. It also increases the chances of irritation and inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract. Decaffeinated coffee has also been shown to have laxative and gastric emptying properties so it seems caffeine alone is not to blame.
5. Mineral Absorption and Kidneys
People are pushing their adrenal glands, the chemistry of their central nervous system and their body. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and the cost for excess caffeine use in the body varies. The blood stream, liver and bones need to give up minerals to manage the amount of caffeine that’s in the system. Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium (macro minerals) and zinc, boron, chromium (micro minerals) to help metabolize caffeine. To help caffeine give the body the hit that it wants to produce. This causes mineral deficiencies. Caffeine will burn water soluble vitamins - B & C. Coffee drinkers may have difficulty getting enough minerals in their diet, even if they eat mineral rich foods or take supplements. This is due to the way coffee affects iron absorption in your stomach and particularly your kidneys ability to retain calcium, zinc, magnesium and other important minerals. This predisposes to osteoporosis. Minerals are vital for good health, so anything that interferes with mineral absorption, especially the absorption of magnesium which is necessary to maintain bowel regularity, needs to be eliminated.
7. Stress and Tension
Drinking any amount of coffee will promote the release of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These chemicals increase your body’s heart rate, blood pressure and puts you into a state of physiologic stress – the old ‘fight or flight’ response.
Chronically elevated insulin deregulates blood glucose levels and predisposes the body to insulin resistance.
Caffeine will mimic the stress response, putting the body into sympathetic nervous system dominance which leads to increased cortisol and increased insulin, which signals the body to store fat and not build muscle.
Many people drink coffee to give them energy, but it goes further than just energy and turns into a kind of jittery tension that makes it difficult to relax. If you need something to push you to get your work done or stay awake, this is a symptom pointing to a life lesson that needs to be learned, a lifestyle change that needs to be made, and long-term - the health implications if this kind of ongoing stress is not stopped.
Turning on the stress hormones with a cup of coffee when you’ve eaten interferes with the digestive process. When your body is in a physiological state of chronic physiologic stress, it will divert its resources away from the digestive organs to the brain for quick thinking and to the limbs to be ready for a potential threat. Digestion shuts down as a result. This also contributes to malabsorption of nutrients, indigestion, acid reflux and heartburn.
Finally, the caffeine in coffee is known to interfere with GABA metabolism. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood and stress levels. GABA also has a calming effect on the gastrointestinal tract. The chemicals in coffee cause intestinal inflammation and kill beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Gut bacteria (good and bad) manipulate your genetics, influence metabolism and mood via the gut-brain axis. As you can see, your mood and your digestive system are intimately connected. The caffeine and other chemicals in coffee can negatively affect both mind and metabolism.
Many people are very protective of their coffee and probably won’t like to hear about all of the health problems associated with it. But if you've read this far, perhaps you feel there could be some truth to this and see the value of rethinking your beverage choices and eliminating coffee altogether.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms or conditions mentioned in this article, or you need help getting away from coffee, I can assist you to create and carry out a plan to replace coffee with healthy alternatives, as well as a simple ways to reduce caffeine withdrawal problems when you make the switch. Decaf can be used as a way to taper down, but not as a substitute, because it does contain caffeine and the chemicals used to remove caffeine are harmful. You will go through withdraw and experience headaches for about 3 days, but it is imperative that you go through detox as this will allow their system to re-regulate. I help you to wean yourself off of caffeine slowly, unless you can go cold-turkey. Black tea has much less actual caffeine and it has other caffeine-like substances like Theobromine, so it’s a great substitute while you are trying to get off coffee. Green tea is another alternative while reducing caffeine consumption. The goal is to get you off of as much caffeine as possible, because caffeine slows down the healing process. If it can't be 100% off coffee right now, take baby steps and work to reduce coffee consumption to no more than 1- 8 oz cup per day and then less. You want your body to reclaim its natural energy.
Knowledge is not power. Acting on knowledge is power. Information + awareness + decision + action = outcome.