Why is coffee allowed on food stamps

Things to know about coffee and coffee substitutes

By: Jutta Kamensky - Consumer Service Bavaria

Coffee wakes them up Spirits, is an expression of lifestyle and brings cosiness to the coffee shop. The Favorite drink of Germans Tastes good at any time of the day, whether as a classic roasted coffee, ready-mixed or coffee substitute. For perfect and healthy enjoyment, it is worthwhile to use the small one Coffee bean and take a closer look at their way into the cup. Because the type of coffee, production and preparation not only influence the quality and aroma of the brown gold. The ingredients of espresso and Co. also have an effect on that Wellbeing out.

  • Coffee - a much-loved treasure
  • How is coffee made?
  • From green coffee to roasted coffee
  • Store coffee properly
  • Offer in the trade
  • Coffee substitutes
  • preparation
  • Coffee and health
  • Unwanted substances in coffee

Coffee - a much-loved treasure

With just under 150 liters per year, Germans drink on average more coffee than mineral water and beer. When we talk about coffee, we mean the coffee bean as well as the infusion made from roasted and ground beans that have been scalded with hot water. Coffee got its name from the Arabs. They called the brown liquid "Kahweh" or "Qahwah", which translates as life force or strength. In recent years, the former luxury drink has regained its prestige and value. After crude oil, coffee is the second most important commodity on the world market.

How is coffee made?

Coffee tree and coffee cherries

The starting point for coffee production is the coffee tree of the genus Coffea. In order for it to bear fruit, it needs special climatic conditions and a lot of care. That is why coffee is only grown in tropical regions around the equator, on the so-called coffee belt. On the world market, Brazil is the main supplier of coffee beans, ahead of Vietnam and Colombia. The dark red fruits of the coffee tree are called coffee cherries. In them lie their seeds, the coffee beans, well protected with silver skins, parchment skin, pulp and cherry skin.

Types of coffee

Almost the entire coffee production consists of the varieties Arabica (Coffea arabica) and Robusta (Coffea Canephora). With a share of 61 percent on the world market, Arabica is economically more important. Arabica grows at heights between 600 and 2100 meters, Robusta at lower altitudes up to 900 meters. Coffee that grows above 1000 meters is called highland coffee and stands for high quality.

Arabica and Robusta

Arabica coffee offers a greater variety of aromas and flavors than Robusta. It has twice the sugar and fats, but only half the caffeine. Arabica coffee tastes mild and finely aromatic, Robusta is more earthy, woody or straw-like. Robusta can be roasted darker than Arabica and contains hardly any acid. Arabica is better suited for filter coffee, while Robusta is often used for espresso. It forms a nicer "crema" (coffee foam), which ensures that the aromas in the cup do not dissipate so quickly. In stores, the beans are often offered as a mixture.

Harvesting and processing of green coffee

The ripe coffee cherries are usually picked by hand or with machines once a year. Then the pulp and protective layers are removed from the coffee beans using various methods, and they are washed and dried. These greenish coffee beans, the so-called raw coffee, can now be packed in sacks on their way to the consumer countries. Coffee beans from Latin America, Asia and Africa are also "fairly traded", as can be seen from the corresponding seal on the packaging.

Article: Fair Trade - fair trade: an idea with success

From green coffee to roasted coffee

In the consumer country, the green coffee is processed into roasted coffee, decaffeinated or soluble coffee. When roasting, the green coffee is heated dry and fat-free at 100 to 200 degrees Celsius. The coffee gets its typical brown color and characteristic aroma during roasting. After the roasting process, the coffee is immediately cooled to protect the aroma and packed airtight. Real coffee beans are labeled “100 percent roasted coffee”.

Influences on the coffee aroma

Roasted coffee owes its individual note to more than 800 different aromatic substances. The types of coffee and their mixing ratio are also decisive for the taste, as well as the duration and temperature of the roast, the method of preparation and the degree of grinding of the coffee powder. Strongly roasted coffee is less acidic. Coffee made from finely ground powder tastes more intense because the aromas can dissolve better, but it also quickly releases bitter substances into the water. If the coffee is ground too coarsely, the aroma often falls by the wayside.

Store coffee properly

Coffee stays fresh for a long time if it is stored in a cool, dry and airtight place. It is best to leave it in the original packaging and also put it in a well-sealable can or a container made of earthenware. The refrigerator and freezer provide good protection for the aroma of the coffee. Whole beans, optimally packaged, retain their full aroma for around 8 weeks, ground coffee that has already been opened for a maximum of 14 days.

Coffee offer in stores

The trade offers roasted coffee as whole beans, freshly ground and vacuum-packed, as well as soluble coffee. These products are available untreated and treated as decaffeinated coffee or soft coffee. The range of instant coffee specialties is constantly growing. Coffee substitutes made from cereals and other plants have also been on the market for many years.

Instant coffee

In the production of soluble coffee, which is also called instant coffee or coffee extract, green coffee blends are cleaned, dark roasted and coarsely ground. The coffee powder is brewed with water, which dissolves all important aromas and ingredients from the coffee bean. The water is removed from this viscous concentrate by spray or freeze drying. In the last step, the easily soluble powder or granulate is created.

Gentle coffee

In order to make roasted coffee more digestible, special processes are used to reduce irritants in particular. Soft coffees are intended for people whose stomach, intestines or bile are sensitive to normal roasted coffee. They are available with and without caffeine, and can also be bought in a soluble form. Coffees that are naturally “naturally mild” are also more easily tolerated and untreated.

Decaffeinated coffee

For the caffeine-free variant of the brown gold, the caffeine is usually extracted from the coffee beans in their raw state using organic solvents or carbonic acid. From a purely legal point of view, decaffeinated roasted coffee may contain a maximum of one gram of caffeine per kilo of coffee solids, and soluble coffee up to three grams. You can also reduce some caffeine by choosing the type of coffee if you buy Arabica coffee (1 - 1.5 percent) with only half as much caffeine as Robusta (2 percent).

Instant coffee specialties

In addition to the large range of roasted coffee, more and more soluble coffees with flavor ingredients are being added. The manufacturer already mixes sugar, milk powder or aromas such as amaretto and vanilla into this beverage powder. To consume the powder only has to be poured over with hot water. Even the classics among coffees such as cappuccino, iced coffee and Viennese melange are available in cans, glasses or as sachets for a cup. And there are ready-to-drink coffee specialties with a high proportion of milk in the refrigerated section. Caution is advised with coffee blends that are packaged similarly to pure coffee beans, but contain e.g. caramel flavors. Here it is advisable to read the label carefully.

Coffee substitutes

Because real coffee beans used to be so expensive, the poorer citizens cooked an alternative from roasted grain. Carbohydrate-rich plants such as cereals, acorns, sugar beets and roots form the basis for the substitute coffee to this day. Sometimes figs are mixed in as a sweetener.
Grain coffee often contains a mixture of roasted rye, wheat, or barley.
Malt coffee created by malting barley before roasting.
Chicory coffee is a slightly bitter-tasting coffee substitute made from the root chicory.

Manufacture of coffee substitutes

First you soak the plants or steam them so that the starch breaks down more easily into caramelizable carbohydrates. Then the coffee substitutes are roasted. During production, it is allowed to add small amounts of edible fats, sugar and table salt. Coffee substitute is usually available in the trade in ground form for filter coffee, or as an instant product.

Coffee preparation

The enjoyment value of coffee increases with the professional preparation, the dosage, the correct brewing temperature and water quality, as well as the equipment used. Coffee can develop its full aroma best if the beans are ground shortly before the coffee is brewed.

Dosing of the coffee powder

Normally strong coffee infusion
6 - 8 grams of coffee powder per cup
(150 ml)
a barely heaped tablespoon
8 to 10 grams of coffee powder per cup
(100 ml)
6 to 8 grams of coffee powder per espresso cup (25 - 50 ml)
a barely heaped tablespoon
Instant coffee
1.5 to 2 grams of instant powder per cup
(150 ml)
a lightly heaped coffee spoon

Brewing temperature and water quality for the coffee

Water for a good coffee comes fresh and cold from the tap and is brought to the boil as quickly as possible. Before coming into contact with the coffee powder, it should cool down slightly. The optimal water temperature is between 86 and 89 degrees Celsius, but always below 96 degrees Celsius. Water with a medium water hardness (8.4 to 14 degrees German hardness) is ideal.

How to prepare coffee

The type of preparation ultimately determines the taste and budget of the coffee connoisseur. Those who prefer it conservative, prefer the paper filter or the pot infusion. To do this, the coffee powder is put into the pot and water is poured over it. The French method with the French Press is also simple and widespread. When it comes to coffee machines, the palette ranges from the common household coffee machine to the portion coffee machine with pads and capsules, portafilter machines for espresso and fully automatic machines. Pads are made from filter paper, capsules from aluminum or plastic. Capsules are therefore laborious to dispose of.

Coffee and health

The coffee drink consists of 99 percent water and is very figure-friendly with 3 kilocalories per cup (without milk and sugar). With a cup of coffee (150 ml) you can meet up to 10 percent of the requirement for niacin, a B vitamin that is necessary for the production of energy in the body and for skin and hair. The most effective ingredient in coffee is caffeine.


Caffeine belongs to the group of alkaloids. These are nitrogenous compounds that are found in many plants. It has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system 20 to 30 minutes after drinking coffee. It reaches its highest concentration in the blood after about 90 minutes. Caffeine can promote concentration, keep you awake, and has a mild diuretic effect. In larger amounts, caffeine leads to insomnia, anxiety and palpitations in some people. If you consume caffeine regularly, the effects will flatten as your body gets used to it. Coffee substitutes do not contain caffeine.

Caffeine content of various drinks (according to cup portions)

Average caffeine content per serving
Decaffeinated coffee
Source: AID e.V. (2016)

Coffee enjoyment in moderation

The German Nutrition Society recommends drinking a maximum of four cups of coffee (half a liter) with 350 milligrams of caffeine per day. Coffee is not a liquid scavenger, as has long been claimed. The glass of water with your coffee doesn't do any harm, but it doesn't have to be for health reasons. Children are particularly sensitive to caffeine; coffee is not suitable for them. Since caffeine reaches the unborn child via the placenta, pregnant women should not consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine (around three cups of coffee) per day.

Coffee promotes digestion and metabolism

Coffee can raise blood pressure slightly. However, it is still unclear whether it has a decisive influence on the development of high blood pressure. Coffee probably lowers the risk of diabetes mellitus and Parkinson's. The small espresso after meals helps with digestion because it stimulates the secretion of stomach acid. People with sensitive stomachs should therefore prefer to prepare decaffeinated or special mild coffee.

Unwanted substances in coffee

Coffee can be attacked by mold during storage and transport. The mold toxin ochratoxin A damages the kidneys in large quantities and can lead to cancer. The European Union has therefore set maximum levels for this mold toxin, which are regularly checked by food controls. Other carcinogenic substances in coffee are acrylamide, which is produced when foods are browned, and furan. Acrylamide is currently found in roasted coffee in harmless quantities. Coffee substitutes usually have three times the acrylamide content. The volatile furan is also formed during the roasting process. According to the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, there is currently no acute health risk.

LGL contribution: coffee, coffee substitutes


  • Deutscher Kaffeeverband e.V. (Ed.) (2012): Fascination Coffee. Bucher Verlag Munich
  • Weichselberger J .; Hierl, T. (2012): The coffee book for beginners, professionals and freaks. Braumüller Verlag Vienna

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