Your Coffee Might Have Dirt in It

Scientists say 'fillers' in ground coffee becoming more common amid shortage

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 13, 2014 10:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some things are better left unknown. Java lovers who prefer to buy their coffee pre-ground may be in for a shocker with the latest news out of Brazil: It might well be tainted. Amid recent coffee shortages, the ground variety has been found to contain anything from brown sugar, corn, wheat, soybeans, and seeds to wood, dirt, and twigs—which isn't merely unpalatable, but could be dangerous to those with allergies. "Corn is very common because it tastes sweet, and people don't perceive the added sugar. The same [goes] for brown sugar," a researcher tells Yahoo.

Because the filler ingredients are hard to detect via taste and smell, a team of scientists in Brazil is developing a test that uses something called liquid chromatography, which can separate ingredients with extreme precision. With coffee being made of carbohydrates, the researchers say they should be able to create a fingerprint of the beans, and anything else would be spotted as the imposter, reports Time. "I hope the [coffee] industry will [use] this method to really guarantee quality without using fillers," says the researcher. Not convinced? The squeamish might shift to buying whole beans and grinding them at home. (Check out the fungus doing so much damage to coffee in Latin America.)

  (Shutterstock)
  (American Chemical Society)
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