December 15, 2015

Do You Know the Truth Behind These 6 Coffee Myths?


There are 1,090,000,000 articles about coffee on Google. And that’s only the ones in English. So it’s no surprise that in these literal billion articles, there are a few myths flying around.

SPANISH VERSION: ¿Sabes La Verdad Detrás de Estos 6 Mitos del Café?

So the question is, do you know your coffee fact from fiction? Read on to find out about the six biggest, most pervasive myths in need of busting.

Myth #1: Bulletproof Coffee Promotes Weight Loss, Makes You Smarter, and Is “Myotoxin-Free”

Ever imagine what your coffee would be like if you added “Brain-octane oil” and yak butter in it, and then blended it? Well Dave Asprey, inventor of Bulletproof coffee certainly did, and his hot, oily, caffeinated smoothie became, at one point, the most popular drink in Silicon Valley.

Aside from a range of purported health benefits including an improved memory and accelerated weight loss through ketosis, the main draw to Bulletproof coffee is it’s promised sustained energy boost, which allegedly lasts 2-3 times longer than the usual kick a regular cup of coffee would give you. If you wanted to learn more about weight loss check out

Countless articles have since popped up all over the internet, including a personal study by celebrity barista Matt Perger – who actually bought a blood ketone meter and tested his own blood several times a day to measure his induced state of ketosis.

But stop! Don’t jump on the myth bandwagon just yet, because the bottom line of Bulletproof coffee is that it’s ooookkaaayyy – IF you’re cool with skipping breakfast, eliminating all carbs from your diet (eeek!), and drinking an oil slick of a drink with 460+ calories in it. (For the record, I’m not.)

The myotoxin part of the Bulletproof coffee promise, on the other hand, has been proved to be completely and utterly bogus. Wet-processing usually takes care of that little problem in specialty coffee, along with meticulous grading practices. But even more so, the high heat of roasting actually destroys nearly all of these sinister sounding mold strains. Not cool trying to accuse the coffee production industry of sloppy storage, Dave Asprey!

In conclusion, drinking Bulletproof coffee as-is isn’t going to give you all those promised health benefits; it comes with serious lifestyle changes. Also, “myotoxins” don’t exist in any kind of specialty coffee.

yak butter bulletproof coffee

Should you really be adding Yak butter to your coffee? Credit: Esther Lee

Myth #2: Takeaway Coffees Taste the Same as Coffee Drunk In-House

My first experience of takeaway coffee was a disappointing one. I had visited the same cafe the day before, had my drink made by the same barista, and ordered the same drink. It was actually almost shocking as to how different the drink tasted as compared to the one I had in-house.

The cappuccino I enjoyed in the store was creamy, sweet, and aromatic. So why was the exact same drink I carried in my paper cup flat, boring, and tasteless?

My first assumption was that the barista was having a bad day and messed up my order, so I returned multiple times ordering cappuccino after cappuccino, all made by the same guy. It wasn’t till my sixth visit that I realised something blatantly obvious – it wasn’t the barista, it was the damn cup it came in!

Look at how a takeaway coffee lid is made. It has one tiny hole for sipping, and that’s it. The hole isn’t big enough for foam to flow effectively out of it, effectively cancelling the creamy mouthfeel so characteristic of a cappuccino. To make matters worse, the foam of my drink adhered to the lid, completely removing it from my drink.

Scientifically, it’s also easy to see how a regular takeaway lid inhibits flavour. The extra surface area coverage prevents any aroma from escaping and not being able to smell coffee while drinking coffee makes the drink taste incredibly bland. To experience this phenomenon in a more exaggerated manner, try covering your nose while drinking a glass of wine, and then unpinch your nose once the wine is in your mouth. You’ll be smacked in the face with flavour once your olfactory senses are back in action.

I could write an essay about how tastes and smells are linked, but to save you a lot of trouble, here’s a quick trick you can do to make your takeaway coffee tastes better. Just poke an extra hole in the lid.

In fact, FoamAroma, a US based startup, took it upon themselves to fix this problem faced by on-the-go coffee drinkers around the world by creating lids that allow you to smell while you drink on the go. Plus, the extra hole lets foam flow out smoothly. Ingenious!

Sniff sniff slurrrrrp. Credit:

Myth #3: Darker Roasted Coffee = Stronger Coffee

While darker roasted coffee definitely has certain pronounced, strong flavours (smokey/chocolatey), associating it with strength (aka: caffeine potency) is a pretty big myth amongst regular coffee drinkers.

The general assumption is that since it tastes more intensely of coffee, it must have more caffeine in it. This is completely untrue; in actual fact, dark roasted coffee and light roasted coffee have more or less the exact same amount of caffeine in it per gram.

Another rumour circulating the coffee world in recent times was the exact opposite: that higher roasting temperatures burned off caffeine. Again, totally false! Roasting coffee for longer periods of time does indeed create water loss and shrinkage, so as a result it can be assumed that there is a higher concentration of caffeine in dark roasted coffee, since the overall mass of the bean has been affected. However, this has very little to do with the actual caffeine content of a finished, brewed cup of coffee.

Different levels of roast

That colour has nothing to do with caffeine. Credit:

Myth #4: Espresso Is THE Most Caffeinated Drink You Can Order

Sometimes it’s just one of those days where you need an extra jolt of caffeine to get you through the day. But did you know that espresso isn’t the most effective solution to a dreary monday morning? (Even though it’s delicious, obviously.)

Surprisingly, filter brewed or drip coffee contains much more caffeine per cup than an espresso. Yeah, you read that right! One shot of espresso typically contains 47-65 mg of caffeine, whereas an 8-ounce cup of coffee has 95-200 mg – that’s about double the kick you could be getting.

The science behind this has much to do with the time of extraction. An espresso is extracted in a rough 30-second timeframe, where brewing takes nearly three times that time. Albeit the concentration of caffeine is higher in espresso, but diluting that with milk and sugar is often detrimental in the pursuit of getting your fix.

Pulling espresso shots

Looking for caffeine? Espresso isn’t your answer. Credit:

And then there’s cold brew, which if brewed over an extremely long period of time (10-12 hours), can have an even higher amount of caffeine per ounce. While the cold brewing method doesn’t use heat to extract caffeine, the full immersion contact – coupled with the brewing time – makes for some pretty potent stuff.

Verdict? Get that cappuccino or latte because it tastes creamy and awesome, but if you really need the extra vitality, order a hot or cold brew.

need caffeine

Caffeine jolts: cold brew is your friend. Credit:

Myth #5: When in Doubt, Always Order a Latte

Partly due to second-wave coffee houses and pop culture popularising the term “latte”, it seems fairly common for new coffee drinkers to fall back on it – especially with third-wave coffee getting increasingly complicated and intimidating.

Confused customer and dispelling coffee myth

WTF is a Cortado? And a uhm- picco-wha?? Credit:

This does make sense to an extent – the latte is the weakest drink you can order from a cafe, and the milkiness makes the drink very approachable and likeable for newbies. (It also has a cool sounding name which makes you feel like a business executive every time you order it.)

However, you definitely shouldn’t just limit yourself to the latte. So here are some regular fail-safe go-to drinks that I usually fall back on as a professional.

Situation #1: You’re in a super reputable, amazing café and you want some easy drinking.

Get a flat white. It tastes more prominently of delicious coffee, and it’ll probably come with some kickass instagram-worthy latte art. (It can be hard to pour complex latte art in a skinny latte glass.)

latte art rosetta

Just look at that gorgeous latte art. Credit:

Situation #2: You’re in a dodgy café and you’re not too sure how good the coffee is.

Get an iced long black. It’s nearly impossible to botch. If the espresso is too acidic, it’ll still work since it’s a cold drink and won’t be too overwhelming. If the espresso if too bitter, it’s not that bad since it’s been stretched considerably with iced water.

iced long black

The iced long black: notoriously difficult to mess up. Credits:

That said, don’t be afraid to experiment with other café menu item. You might just find something that’ll be your new favourite drink. Baristas are more than happy to guide you through anything you would need to know – which brings me to my next myth…

Myth #6: Don’t Tell Your Barista How You’d Like Your Coffee to Be Made

You might have read an article or heard about a barista throwing a whole lot of shade on some poor schmuck who decided they wanted to add hazelnut syrup in their coffee. And now you’re absolutely terrified of ordering your coffee they way you really want it because you feel guilty or judged.

The truth is, if you’d like your coffee to be done in a certain way, any barista would be grateful to receive specific instructions along with your order. I mean it. It helps us ensure you get the best possible drink, and it also makes our job a lot easier.

However, it always takes two hands to clap, so it should also definitely be your responsibility as a customer to actually have an inkling of what you’re actually ordering. Being informed makes communication smoother between the two parties – and, as a result, makes everyone happy! (That said, there is a balance: being over-the-top specific can also be a little weird.)

Let me give you some examples.

Bad order: “I’d like a strong coffee, but a bit sweet, oh and with milk too.”

This is super vague and confusing.

Good order: “I’d like a strong cappuccino, with some sugar in it.”

This is pretty clear but leaves some room for interpretation and assumption, aka error.

Great order: “I’d like a cappuccino with two shots of espresso in it and a cube of sugar mixed in, please.”

Specific and to the point – perfect.

Over-the-top order: “I’d like a cappuccino with exactly 58ml of espresso in it, milk steamed at exactly 64 degrees C, a ratio of foam to milk at precisely 1:3, and ? of a cube of raw sugar muddled in, please.”

This is slightly annoying, considering this might not be the recommended dosage/ratio the store makes their standard coffee. It goes up to very annoying if you have, like, 30 people behind you waiting to order too.

So there you have it – ordering coffee is pretty easy and actually not that difficult.

So now you’re six steps closer to being a walking-and-talking coffee encyclopedia. But did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments, on facebook, and on instagram.

SEE ALSO: How Does Coffee Affect Your Brain? Are You Addicted To Caffeine?

Edited by T. Newton.

Perfect Daily Grind.