Coffee ( Discussing coffee. This includes selection of brands, methods of making coffee, etc. Discussion about coffee in other forms (e.g. desserts) is acceptable.

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Old 19-05-2004, 06:04 PM
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Default Caffeine Comparison Chart

Caffeine Comparison Chart

Updated: Tue. May. 18 2004 8:52 PM ET

Canadians have become the largest consumers of coffee in North America. And to keep up with demand, cup sizes are getting larger.

But are we getting more caffeine than we should? CTV News and The Globe and Mail decided to find out how much caffeine were taking in, and whether its over the limits considered healthy.

Health Canada recommends no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. Our results suggest those popular 20 ounce jumbo cups of Starbucks or Second Cup house blends will deliver almost the maximum dose in a single serving.

Almost two-thirds of Canadians say they drink coffee every day. On average, we drink 4.5 cups a day, and the amount is going up every year. Coffee retailers are cashing in, opening up more and more retail outlets where every morning, coffee lovers line up by foot or by car.

With so many of us now slurping back coffee, CTV News decided to test caffeine levels to see how much Canadians are getting in that jolt of java.

We found that in pursuit of a bolder taste, specialty coffee houses are brewing their blends stronger, and coffee drinkers are taking in more caffeine. We asked a nutrition expert to comment on the results.

"There is absolutely a lot of caffeine in those coffees. Theres no question of that. My analysis of the data would indicate they are quite high," says food science professor Massimo Marcone, of the University of Guelph.

So which retailers serve up the most caffeine?

The lowest amounts of caffeine were found in the brands from JAVA Stop and Country Time.
We found 25 per cent more caffeine in samples from Timothys and Tim Hortons coffee.
The biggest bang for your buck, with more than double the levels of caffeine compared to the lowest levels, were found in coffee from Starbucks and Second Cup.
"Thats quite high compared to what Ive seen from European coffees... but also quite high overall," says Marcone.

This may be due in part to the types of beans used in North America. Arabica beans are the premium bean. But they are more expensive. Robusta beans are cheaper and are often mixed sometimes for taste, often keep costs down. They also contain two times the amount of caffeine contained in Arabica beans.

As well in Europe, many consumers prefer darker roasted coffee which contains less caffeine. In North America, lighter roasts are the norm. They contain more caffeine.

"Noticing how much we do consume of the coffee, many of us will be over the amount of caffeine that is permitted," Marcone said. "From anecdotal information I have, we actually consume more caffeine (here in North America)."

Caffeine: Benefits and dangers

Many of us say we cant get through the day without their daily cup of Joe. Its a powerful stimulant that keeps us alert -- and may even protect against Parkinsons and diabetes, according to some studies.

But caffeine also raises your heart rate, and may be linked to high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Its been linked to miscarriage in pregnant mothers.

Its also made us addicts, unable to imagine a day without coffee.

"You develop headaches, you are irritable, you seek caffeine to relieve those adverse effects," says Ahmed El Sohemy of the University of Torontos Department of Nutritional Science.

Research shows people often choose to keep getting their caffeine fix, rather than go through those symptoms of withdrawal, which may explain why coffee has become such a hot commodity.

El Sohemys research shows that there are two kinds of people-- those who detoxify the caffeine quickly, and those who take longer to metabolize caffeine. Those with the genes that make for a slower caffeine metabolism seem to have a two-fold increase in heart disease.

"What were finding so far is that depending on your ability genetically to detoxify caffeine, your response might be quite different than someone else," El Sohemy said.

Whats more, caffeine has an appetite suppressing effect. Adding lots of cream and sugar can have a detrimental effect on the overall diet. "Empty calories make you feel full, and displace more nutritious foods," El Sohemy said.

Responses from coffee companies:

"Our customers tell us that a great cup of Timothys coffee helps them get their day started. Part of that start comes from the enjoyable taste in the cup and part from the lift that caffeine gives to the brain and the senses."

Tim Hortons
"Since 1964, Tim Hortons has been serving customers our legendary coffee and baked goods. Always Fresh is more than just a slogan at Tim Hortons, its our customer promise. If our coffee is not served within 20 minutes of being brewed its not served at all. Brewing a consistent cup of Tim Hortons coffee begins with selecting choice 100 Arabica beans, roasted and blended to our own specifications. For more information on Tim Hortons and our products, please visit our web site at

Second Cup
"Second Cup is Canadas largest specialty coffee retailer, offering the worlds finest coffees. Typically, Second Cup uses more coffee to produce a richer beverage and the amount of coffee used directly influences caffeine levels. Second Cups decaffeinated coffee uses the Swiss Water decaffeinating process, which removes 99 of the caffeine from the bean."

Starbucks (Starbucks spokesperson Lara Wyss)
"We emphasize that any absolute numbers reported on caffeine levels in Starbucks coffee do not reflect what a customer would receive in every cup of Starbucks coffee. There are many variables that contribute to caffeine content from cup to cup.

"Regarding Starbucks regular drip coffees, customers can expect an average of 160 milligrams of caffeine per eight ounces.

"Regarding Starbucks decaffeinated drip coffees, customers can expect between 4. 8 milligrams and 11.2 milligrams of caffeine per eight ounces.

"Regarding one ounce of Starbucks espresso (which is one shot in an espresso-based beverage), customers can expect an average of 89 milligrams of caffeine.

"Regarding one ounce of Starbucks decaffeinated espresso, customers can expect an average of 4. 8 milligrams to 11 milligrams of caffeine.

"We strive to provide our customers not only with a coffee drink, but with the finest coffee experience the world has to offer. With this in mind, we select the finest quality Arabica coffees and roast them to the signature Starbucks RoastTM. Whenever we brew coffee at Starbucks, we use the standard two tablespoons of coffee per six ounces of water ratio established 60 years ago as the best way to extract coffees optimum flavour. Others might brew with less coffee and more water, and while proportionally this delivers less caffeine, it also means less flavour in the cup."


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