I’m a firm believer that the best coffee for you is the one you enjoy drinking the best. If The Best Part Of Waking Up for you is Good To The Last Drop, then l’chaim! You enjoy that pre-ground tinned coffee to your heart’s content. But I would be remiss to inform you that your morning cuppa may be hiding a secret ingredient: ground up cockroaches.
According to a news.com.au article, this creepy crawly discovery was made somewhat by accident. As recounted by University of Montana biology professor Douglas Emlen to NPR, in the late ‘80s, then-student Dr. Emlen was driving cross country with his entomology professor who would go 45 minutes off-route to find a fresh ground cup of coffee. And while Dr. Emlen notes that the professor was a coffee junkie and the late ‘80s weren’t exactly the golden years of good coffee, these weren’t the reasons the professor would make such lengthy detours.
As the story goes, after years of handling cockroaches—as entomologist are wont to do—the professor had developed an allergy to them; it was so bad that the professor would have a reaction whenever coming into contact with them. That professor, according to Dr. Emlen, had the same reaction when drinking pre-ground tinned coffee.
Dr. Emlen tells NPR:
And it turned out when he looked into it that pre-ground, you know, your big bulk coffee that you buy in a tin, is all processed from these huge stock piles of coffee. These piles of coffee, they get infested with cockroaches and there’s really nothing they can do to filter that out. So, it all gets ground up in the coffee.
The occurrence is so common that the FDA has an acceptable level of “insect filth and insects” that can be in coffee. That standard, according to the FDA’s website, is no more than 10% of the total coffee beans “by count are insect-infested or insect-damaged.” That's a lot of beetlejuice.
It's worth noting that small-batch specialty coffee roasters have to follow the same FDA standard, so just because there is a maximum allowable amount doesn't mean every tin of coffee is mostly cockroach legs. It nonetheless seems like good information to know when deciding whether or not its worth it to pay a little more for a grinder and whole bean coffee.
And I'm not here to play coffee police, you do you, but I'm adding this as reason 1031 to my list of reasons why I drink fresh ground coffee. (Until I'm at Grandma's house, and then it's a tin for the win. Gimme that tasty bug brew.)
Top image via Adobe Stock/Ananaline