I want to preface this by saying that I love coffee. I love coffee more than any other beverage. If there is a fresh pot brewing within 20 feet of me I am liable to turn into a living, drooling version of Homer Simpson (mmm…coffee!). If I could handle the caffeine I would probably drink 4-5 cups a day. However I have very strong reactions to the caffeine – my heart rate rockets to crazy high levels (170 resting heart rate, anyone?!), I get the shakes, my concentration disappears completely and I have a prevailing wobbly feeling for hours after even having a few sips of “high-test”. I also get debilitating caffeine withdrawal headaches that can last for days. And, before you say that it’s psychosomatic, I’ve done blind tests before and it is NOT all in my head. Anyway, I stopped drinking real coffee years ago, excepting the occasional treat when on holiday because I miss it!
Well I read something today that may change my habits forever: I was casually browsing List Verse this afternoon on my lunch break and I discovered something very disturbing. Rather than try to paraphrase I will just go ahead and quote directly from the site:
4. Decaf Has No Caffeine
The Myth: Decaffeinated coffee contains no caffeine
International standards require decaf to be 97% caffeine free (EU standards are a little stricter at 99.9%). The process of removing caffeine is a long one and it also means that many other chemicals (up to 400 in fact) that are essential to the taste of coffee are lost. If you have an allergy to caffeine, you should probably keep away from all forms of coffee – decaf included. But for those who can cope with caffeine – unless you really can’t stand the slight “high” produced by it, you will have a nicer tasting drink if you just opt for regular coffee. And if that hasn’t convinced you – the chemical often used in decaffeinating coffee beans (dichloromethane) is also used as a paint stripper.
Now, I have always known that decaf coffee contains some caffeine, and that I am prone to get headaches with decaf as well, but what I did not know was that the caffeine in decaf coffee was removed using paint stripper.
In fact, I was once told that all coffee is naturally decaffeinated and that the caffeine is added after processing. I can’t remember who told me that, but I believed them and I have even told other people this (what has turned out to be a) myth.
So, does this mean I can switch back to regular coffee? If I thought my heart could take it I would switch back in a minute. I would drop everything this second, drive into town and go to my favorite café (Café Koko, in case you’ve forgotten) and buy the largest cappuccino they would make me. As it stands, I’m afraid I’m going to have to think about giving up decaf as well. Which is a shame because I certainly do love coffee…..
p.s. I know I linked you to the List Verse website, and I think everyone should go there to at least read the rest of the Food Myths list, but for heaven’s sake please be careful – this is the most addictive website I have ever seen. Each list is more interesting than the last one and, to make matters worse, at the bottom of each page they link to SIX more lists that you might enjoy. And each of those leads you to SIX more and before you know it you’ve spent hours on the site reading hundreds of lists. Then even longer on Wikipedia finding out more information about your favorite lists and subjects or looking up people/things just to get more information. Honestly, it’s a trap! Don’t ever go there!! Except do go there, because the site is amazing.