Two years ago, meat manufacturers were publicly flayed for using pink slime to beef up their products. And as disgusting as it is, our outrage might have been a little misdirected: Meat didn’t even make the cut when the Journal of Food Science published a list of most frequently adulterated foods that same year.
Producers of olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, orange juice, apple juice, and coffee are the most likely to use replacement ingredients to make a few extra bucks; this, in our minds, is no better than high school kids selling pot mixed with oregano to seventh graders.
The infographic below, from the American Chemical Society, shows the most common additives in coffee.
Coffee, the second most traded commodity in the world, is regularly cut with additives like chicory, soybeans, starch, acorns, seeds, or even twigs after it has been ground. And the problem is only going to increase as climate change creates a global coffee shortage and pushes prices up, making it more profitable for fraudsters.
According to the American Chemical Society, Brazil will produce 42 billion fewer cups of coffee this year than usual because of drought. Which means not only is your morning coffee costing you more, but it’s also more likely to be of a lower quality.
Ground coffee is usually tested by taste, smell, or a look under the microscope, reports Quartz. (Photo: @denny_christ)
To combat this growing problem, researchers in Brazil have come up with a new test that identifies the chemical ingredients of ground Joe. “The test uses liquid chromatography, a process that separates individual components from a mixture and identifies each one according to its chemical content,” reports Quartz. With a 95% accuracy rate, it’s simpler and more precise than any previous method used to I.D. fillers.
Hopefully that means the end of counterfeit coffee, because the only additives we want in our Java are Frangelico and THC.