Coffee Corner: Coffee Myths Debunked

Post by Grant Mouton

There is a lot of conflicting information floating around about coffee. Some is passed down from generation to generation, some found on the internet and some would seem as truth where it really shouldn’t be.

#1: Want to keep your coffee fresh? Store it in a freezer

Don’t do it! The only way to have fresh coffee is to buy fresh coffee, grind it yourself as needed and to not buy more than a two weeks supply.

Unfortunately neither vacuum sealing nor freezing helps with this. If you can’t manage to do the above mentioned points, the best way to store your coffee is in a cool, dark place with around 50% humidity. Freezer air is very dry and the moist coffee will tend to equalize with its surroundings, so freezing would dry the coffee out causing it to be stale.

#2: Strong coffee is a dark roast

To answer this we need to define what “strong” coffee is. The most common answer I got when I asked people what constituted as a strong coffee is “a dark roast” and the reason being “because it is bitter”. Other answers included “coffee with a lot of caffeine” and “espresso”.

Now none of these answers are exactly incorrect because there isn’t a standard definition of what it is that makes a cup of coffee strong. So I’ve taken it upon myself, without consulting any authorities to standardize the definition: A strong cup of coffee has a higher percentage of coffee (oils) in solution than other cups, i.e a high coffee:water ratio.

From this definition we can tell that a dark roast coffee could be stronger because the darker the roast is, the higher the solubility of the coffee – however the darker you roast, the lower the caffeine content. Moreover, espresso can also be considered correct as it will also have a higher coffee:water ratio than other brewing methods.

The best way to ask your barista for a strong cup would be to ask for a “high yield” coffee. The barista would then dial in the necessary settings in the equipment to give you that high coffee:water ratio that results in more flavor.

#3: Can I get a tall flat white?

No, no you can’t! Why? Because there is no such thing. The same thing goes for: Cappuccino, Cortado, Macchiato, Gibraltar and Café Bon Bon.

These coffees have special names for a reason, their names are in essence their ratio or recipe. Each of the aforementioned has a very specific ratio of espresso and milk. Change that and you have a different drink entirely. Just yesterday I saw a “Macchiato” the size of a latte in Avenues mall, when an actual Macchiato is a double espresso with just a tablespoon of milk foam! I’d be happy to mention the ratio’s of the various drinks in the comments below if someone is interested.

#4 Coffee dehydrates you

Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes you to urinate more frequently. However, your drink (unless it is an espresso) makes a significant contribution to your daily water intake. Only excessive coffee intake may cause dehydrating effects.

So why do some stores serve water with your coffee? To help you taste the coffee better. It is simply a way of cleansing your palate between sips.

#5: Espressos contain more caffeine than brewed coffee

If you are talking about concentration of caffeine then yes, its a slightly more concentrated dose. However, by drinking a small cup of brewed coffee you will be ingesting significantly more caffeine. An espresso contains roughly 40mg of caffeine, whereas a short cup of drip or filter coffee will have around 100mg. Also, don’t be fooled – darker roasted coffee (as mentioned earlier) contains less caffeine than lighter roasts.

#6: Coffee is good/bad for your health

Honestly, I have done extensive reading on this subject and I have read articles stating that coffee prevents cancer only to read one that suggests it can cause it. Similarly, I have read that it aids in weight loss but also read that it has no effect on it. Coffee itself contains very few calories, negligible amounts of vitamins and minerals etc. so I think it is safe to say that moderate to high consumption of coffee will not have any significant effects (positive or negative) on your health.

Keep sipping!

Post by Grant Mouton
Self–proclaimed coffee guru, coffee education addict, SCAA/SCAE accredited.
Brand manager at % Arabica.


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24 comments, add your own...


  1. cajie says:

    Good stuff right there. I am learning a lot about coffee.

  2. Re. says:

    Hi Grant, is there a way to contact you regarding an issue with one of your baked goods?

  3. Tima says:

    I love your articles– they’re always so informative! I did have one tangential question: What does the “%” in Arabica’s logo stand for? I can’t figure it out and it’s been eating at me!

  4. jm says:

    tried your coffee its real good but its cold (i know you mentioned it in previous post about tastes buds flavors and stuff etc) but it should be warmer specially with the cold weather.
    fell in LOVE with your salted chocolate fudge cake.

    • Grant Mouton says:

      Hello JM,

      Feel free to ask our baristas to make it extra hot, they won’t have a problem making it just the way you like.

      :)

  5. Visakar says:

    If I drink espresso during the evening, I can’t sleep at night. Is this common problem or only I have this issue.

    • Grant Mouton says:

      Hello Visakar,

      People have different sensitivities to caffeine, however a large dose should only push your circadian rythym back about an hour. If you don’t like decaf, try eating a banana as the potassium is said to aid the

  6. MJ says:

    Great article. I just want to add a couple of things in terms of benefits vs. Bad effects; in a recent study, coffee was found to be a ‘sirt food’ which can generally be described as a metabolism booster. Between that and it’s diuretic properties, if ingested black with no sugar, it helps you lose calories / water retention, but only if you’re already eating healthy. The argument against coffee is of course, if you have high blood pressure… Stay away from it. Good thing for me, my blood pressure is great!

  7. Grant,

    I was at Arabica Friday morning and ordered an Americano. I found it surprisingly hot, like really hot. Is that usually the case with Arabica’s Americanos? Because I remember you writing about how great tasting, high quality coffee should never be too hot.

  8. mentabolism says:

    Could you provide more info on the ratio of espresso to milk for those drinks.
    Thanks

    • Grant Mouton says:

      Hello mentabolism,

      The ratios are as follows:

      Macchiato- 1 part espresso to one part milk foam
      Cortado – 1 part espresso to one part steamed milk
      Cappucino – 1 part espresso; 1 part steamed milk; 1 part milk foam
      Cafe bon bon – equal parts espresso, condensed milk and steamed milk

  9. Abdulaziz says:

    You should post a novice’s guide to a specialty coffee house. Basically, a guide on how to maneuver through the menu and the jargon baristas throw at you.

    It seems like such a wonderful world that is too passionate for a novice to stroll through easily.


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