My relationship with coffee started in first year when I first saw it in a pot across the breakfast table. At first, I would only see it in the mornings, often accompanied by cream and sugar. Gradually, as I got to know it better, cream and sugar dropped out of the picture, and our rendez-vous in a cup alone became more frequent—sometimes extending into the night. It was a crazy love story alright: too little coffee and fatigue grew over me as I yearned for more; too much coffee and nausea, jitteriness and anxiety would follow. Just the right amount and I felt ready to take on the day.
Our love for something has a tendency to drive our curiosity to know more about it, and it was no different for me in the case of coffee: how do I fine-tune my caffeine intake so that it’s just the right amount?
Well, it turns out there are different ways of fine-tuning your caffeine intake
1. Cultivar determines caffeine content: Arabica or Robusta
Cultivar is a term used to denote species of coffee plants, which can be either Arabica or Robusta. A general rule is Arabica beans have about half the caffeine as Robusta. There are also variations in caffeine content depending on the variety within the cultivar.
2.The degree of roast has virtually no effect on caffeine content
Roasting is more about the flavour than caffeine content. There are laboratory analyses showing that darker roasts have less caffeine than lighter roasts. However, the difference is so minuscule it almost doesn’t matter.
3.How fine is your grind?
The finer the coffee grind, the higher the caffeine content. Different levels of coffee grinding is also related to brewing method. For example, beans used for filtered coffee are less finely ground than those used for Turkish coffees.
Brewing methods that take longer and use higher temperatures will contain higher levels of caffeine. This explains why espresso has a lower caffeine content than filtered coffee.
This one is pretty self-evident. Don’t drink 5 cups of coffee if you’re planning to do open-heart surgery afterwards.
Figuring out optimal caffeine intake can be tricky sometimes because it differs between people due to individual biology, and it also changes as time goes on due to tolerance.
Playing around with the variables led me to explore local coffee shops and the discovery of a wide range of coffee flavours and textures. I hope you have just as much fun as I did fine-tuning my coffee intake.
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