5 Myths and Misconceptions About Coffee (2022)

Coffee is one of them of the most consumed psychoactive drinks on the planet. It is a cornerstone of culinary identities around the world. Almost every country, region and culture has its own unique way of making and consuming coffee. But there is nothing simple about a cup of coffee. These grains of your kitchen are the sum total of a complex series of interactions between international corporations, toasters, loaders, sellers, wholesalers and even growers who put the seeds in the ground. It’s complicated. It’s a mess.

Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about coffee, to help you become a more informed consumer of this deliciously bitter elixir.

Be sure to check out our other coffee guides, such as The best espresso machines, Best latte and cappuccino machines, The best portable coffee makers, Best coffee subscriptionsi The best coffee grinders.

1. Coffee is not a grain

Coffee is not a grain. It’s a seed! Technically, it is the endosperm (melted) of a special type of berry, typically from the coffee plant. Initially, it is wrapped in a thin red fruit that is peeled during the cleaning process. Then it is a light silvery green color until roasted.

That doesn’t mean you can plant your own beans and grow your own coffee trees. The beans we grind and prepare are no longer plantable, due to roasting. Even so, it can take years before a coffee plant is ripe enough to produce the berries that contain the coffee bean. Not to mention Arabica coffee (the most popular crop) grows and thrives only in some parts of the world. It is a small demanding plant with very particular climatic needs, which brings us to the next point.

2. European coffee is not from Europe

Coffee beans do not grow in Europe. They grow in Central and South America, East and West Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Asia and Hawaii. So if you’re buying expensive imported coffee from Italy, France, or anywhere outside of these regions, you’re likely to get pretty bad coffee (unless you live in Italy or France, that is). This is because the best-tasting coffee is always roasted shortly before consumption.

If your coffee beans say they are from Ethiopia, this is where they were grown. But if the bag says they’re from somewhere in Europe, it probably means the coffee has been roasted there, and that’s bad. Roasting highlights the flavors of coffee, but these flavor compounds begin to decompose shortly after being roasted. Roasted coffee outside of your locality has probably been sitting in a shipping container or on a cargo plane for a long time. So when it comes down to it, all those flavors that make coffee so tasty in a Parisian coffee have been greatly degraded.

That’s why my advice is to always buy locally roasted coffee beans and grind them at home (with a grinder).

3. Dark roasts have no more caffeine

We often feel that dark coffee is “stronger,” that is, it contains more caffeine, and this is not strictly true. When green coffee enters a toaster, it is literally only roasted at different baking levels, just like morning toast.

Roasted roasts are among the most toasted beans and, as they do not spend as much time cooking, they actually contain month caffeine compounds intact than medium or dark roasted beans. Heat accelerates chemical interactions, which means it also breaks down caffeine compounds. Therefore, it is logical that the longer a coffee bean is roasted, the less caffeine it will contain when it is ground and prepared.

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