by Dish Staff
John Metcalfe shares the grim news:
No doubt about it: there is trouble in coffee land. Drought and the spread of “leaf rust,” a plant disease, has left growers suffering in Brazil, the source of roughly a third of the world’s coffee supply. This one-two punch to the java industry has kicked prices up to their highest point in years and fanned fears of a global shortage (though those worries seem to have been premature). With the future uncertain, some unscrupulous folks in the supply chain have decided to get sneaky. They’re increasing profits by padding ground coffee with filler ingredients, say researchers. These adulterants range from relatively harmless things like chicory and brown sugar to more eyebrow-raising stuff like acai berries, soybeans, and peanuts, which could be problematic for those with allergies. …
Coffee fillers have become visible enough that they’ve attracted the attention of scientists at Brazil’s Universidade Estadual de Londrina, who [Monday] announced they’ve developed a new test to detect non-coffee ingredients. Standard methods now involve peeking at grounds under a microscope or simply tasting the brew; this updated technique, however, uses liquid chromatography and statistical analysis. The researchers believe this way provides a comprehensive view of the coffee’s chemical makeup, while removing any potential biases held by human taste-testers.