5 Myths and Misconceptions About Coffee (2023)

Dark roasted coffee has stronger, bolder flavors, but it doesn’t contain more caffeine. You might see dark-roast coffee labeled as French roast or Espresso roast, but that just means the beans are likely roasted twice to get a richer, toastier flavor. 

A mini myth bust: There is no such thing as an espresso bean. Coffee for espresso is just regular old coffee that’s ground very fine. Espresso roast is a marketing term.

4. Starbucks Coffee Isn’t Burned

Some coffee aficionados turn their noses up at Starbucks coffee because of its typically toasty and smoky flavors, but that’s not the result of Starbucks mishandling its beans. It’s a billion-dollar corporation, and as with all fast-food joints, the goals of a giant coffee roaster are a little different from those of your local roaster. 

Starbucks coffee can taste “burnt” because the default roasts it ships to every one of its stores are typically on the darker side. There’s nothing inherently low quality or less than about dark roasts. A dark roast can be every bit as good (or every bit as bad) as a blonde or medium roast. For Starbucks, a dark roast is just an easier way to maintain a consistent flavor profile in every Starbucks location. Just like with a McDonald’s, the goal isn’t delivering haute cuisine but a product that tastes the same no matter where you buy it. 

That said, Starbucks (and other mass-produced coffee) falls prey to the same issues that make buying roasted coffee from another country a bad idea. Because it makes coffee beans on such a large scale, you never know how long they’ve sat on a shelf or how far away they were roasted. (But hey, given that coffee is often a lesser ingredient in Starbucks drinks, you may not care.)

Tip: If you want good, flavorful coffee for home, find a local café that roasts its own beans. I guarantee there’s one within 100 miles of you, and they’re going to produce coffee that tastes much better than anything a mass producer can make. 

5. Decaf Is Good, Actually

Decaf coffee is unfairly maligned. It’s often associated with lower-quality flavor and coffee drinkers who aren’t “real” coffee fans. Both of these things are false. That’s just plain-old gatekeeping. 

There are plenty of reasons to drink decaf coffee. You may have a caffeine sensitivity, or you may just enjoy the taste of espresso after a meal without having to pay for it by tossing and turning in bed all night. 

There are a few different ways coffee is decaffeinated, but the Swiss Water Process produces, in our opinion, the best decaf coffee. Using this process, the unroasted green coffee beans are washed in such a way that much of the caffeine content is extracted prior to roasting. The roasting lowers the content further. Extracting the caffeine in this gentler way preserves the flavors of the coffee bean. The carbon dioxide process is also good.

Other methods of decaffeination typically involve chemical solvents that can affect the flavor of the coffee. So next time you’re shopping for decaf, be sure to check the bag and see which decaffeination process it uses. It should say “water processed” or something similar. This directory site may also help you find good decaf brands.

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