CityGreens Consumer Awareness Initiative. How to check for adulteration in Coffee Powder

Did you ever step into a Barista or Starbucks or Cafe Coffee Day outlet, just to sniff the smell of the freshly ground coffee? If you did, you would agree that very few things in the world may beat that smell.

Coffee prices vary a lot with season and variety and hence there is enough incentive for adulterators to play around. If people were buying coffee beans, they could be sure of the quality. But usually, people buy grounded coffee powder making it difficult to look for the presence of adulterants in coffee powder.

Adulterants used in Coffee:
The commonly used adulterants in case of coffee are chicory, caramel and date seeds. These are generally mixed with the coffee beans before grinding. Once the mixture is ground, it is very difficult to find out the presence of any of these just by the way of visual inspection. However, all these adulterants have different properties from coffee beans and one can rely on these properties to determine the quality of the coffee.

Ways to find adulteration in coffee:

  • Pinch Test – take a little coffee and squeeze it between your fingers. If it forms a cake like coherent mass, it is adulterated with Chicory. This is because Coffee grains are hard and large, they do not stick together. The grains of chicory, however, are small and soft and tend to stick to each other. So, if the grains in your coffee like to stick together, it’s probably not coffee.
  • Water Droplet Test – place a pinch of coffee powder on a plate.  Put a drop of water on it. If it absorbs the water readily and becomes soft, it contains Chicory. If it takes time to absorb water and remains hard, it is coffee.
  • Tumbler Test – take a transparent glass. Fill it with water. Drop a pinch of coffee powder on it gently.
    • if the powder floats for some time before falling down, it is Coffee.
    • if the powder sinks quickly, it is Chicory or some other seed.
    • if it readily diffuses brownish or yellowish color, it contains Caramel or Chicory.

These are simple and easy tests that one can carry out at their home, free of cost, and be sure of the quality of their coffee.

Food for thought:
What, do you think, people drink more – tea or coffee?

We answered that in our post on adulteration in tea leaves. Here is a different question to wit you. Between a tea lover and a coffee lover, who is likely to drink more number of cups of her favorite drink on any given day? How many?

The answer lies in following cues:

  1. Turkey tops the list in largest per capita consumption of tea at 3.15kg
  2. Finland tops the list in largest per capita consumption of coffee at 12kg

Enjoy your cup of Coffee or Tea.

Stay Safe!

Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.

He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.

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