5 coffee facts you shouldn’t believe (and one you should)

Coffee beans, bag and scoop on old rusty background Photo by Ilja Generalov/Shutterstock

If you’re like us, you likely celebrate coffee every single morning. But this past Tuesday, there was one more reason to rejoice; October 1st marks the fifth annual International Coffee Day. And what better way to acknowledge the holiday than by debunking some commonly held myths about the world’s (second) favourite hot beverage.

Fact or fiction: Coffee dehydrates you.

Caffeine is a diuretic, which is the reason chugging a coffee before you drive to the cottage is almost always a bad idea. That’s probably why people assume coffee dehydrates you. But, in fact, drinking a cup of coffee is actually equivalent to drinking a cup of water, and people build up tolerance to its diuretic effects over time. Science backs this up—in 2014, researchers at the University of Birmingham confirmed that coffee has no dehydrating effects.

Fact or fiction: Decaf coffee has zero caffeine.

There’s a reason they call it “decaf” rather than “nocaf.” Back in the 1980s, there were attempts to breed a caffeine-free coffee plant. But early trials failed, and we were left with plants that contain caffeine as a natural component. That’s why it’s impossible to create a completely decaffeinated bean.

Before you start worrying about insomnia, however, know this: Health Canada regulations require that any roast or ground coffee labelled “decaf” cannot contain more than 0.1 per cent residual caffeine.

Fact or fiction: Coffee stunts growth.

This myth dates back over 100 years, when Postum—a roasted grain drink “safe for young nerves”—launched a smear campaign against coffee.

Since then, some studies have indicated a possible correlation between coffee consumption and lower calcium intake, but the results are most likely due to subjects drinking fewer calcium-containing beverages. According to Harvard, “there is no scientifically valid evidence to suggest that coffee can stunt a person’s growth.”

Fact or fiction: Tim Hortons adds nicotine to its coffee to keep you hooked.

While there’s an entire Snopes article devoted to this topic, we went straight to the source.

“Tim Hortons would like to clearly state that there is absolutely NO nicotine or MSG in our coffee. Tim Hortons coffee has NO ADDITIVES whatsoever,” reads the Tim Hortons website. There you go.

Fact or fiction: You can leave your coffee at the cottage over the winter and it will be fine to use in the spring.

It depends on how you’re buying your coffee (whole beans or ground) and how you’re storing it. That’s what will determine how long your coffee will last.

Unopened coffee that’s been commercially vacuum-packed or canned can be stored for years. But that half-used bag of ground coffee? Throw it out or take it home when you close up your cottage at the end of the season.

Fact or fiction: Keeping your coffee in the freezer helps it say fresh longer.

This is a divisive topic, we don’t recommend bringing it up around the bonfire. In fact, it’s so controversial that even the Coffee Association of Canada doesn’t even take an official stance, and instead advises that coffee should be stored in a cool, dry place.

So, here’s what you need to know: moisture is death to beans. Expert coffee roaster Dillon Edwards told Epicurious that the problem lies in repeatedly moving a bag in and out of the freezer, which accelerates condensation build up. (It also doesn’t help that coffee can absorb odours from your fridge or freezer.) But if the bag is fresh and unopened? Then yes, it may extend your coffee’s shelf life.


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