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"Caffeine Molecule" is the first of a series of mouthwatering paintings depicting the building blocks of favorite foods and flavors. Caffeine is made from carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen.
Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug. It is found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants. It is most commonly consumed by humans in infusions extracted from the bean of the coffee plant and the leaves of the tea bush, as well as from various foods and drinks containing products derived from the kola nut. Other sources include yerba maté, guarana berries, guayusa, and the yaupon holly.
In humans, caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant, temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. It is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug, but, unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is both legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world. Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks, enjoy great popularity; in North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily.
Global consumption of caffeine has been estimated at 120,000 tonnes per year, making it the world's most popular psychoactive substance. This amounts to one serving of a caffeinated beverage for every person every day.
Common sources of caffeine are coffee, tea, and (to a lesser extent) chocolate derived from cocoa beans. Less commonly used sources of caffeine include the yerba maté, guarana and ilex guayusa plants, which are sometimes used in the preparation of teas and energy drinks. Two of caffeine's alternative names, mateine and guaranine, are derived from the names of these plants.
One of the world's primary sources of caffeine is the coffee "bean" (which is the seed of the coffee plant), from which coffee is brewed. Caffeine content in coffee varies widely depending on the type of coffee bean and the method of preparation used; even beans within a given bush can show variations in concentration. In general, one serving of coffee ranges from 80–100 milligrams, for a single shot (30 milliliters) of arabica-variety espresso, to approximately 100–125 milligrams for a cup (120 milliliters) of drip coffee. Arabica coffee typically contains half the caffeine of the robusta variety.
In general, dark-roast coffee has very slightly less caffeine than lighter roasts because the roasting process reduces a small amount of the bean's caffeine content.
Tea is another common source of caffeine. Although tea contains more caffeine than coffee (by dry weight), a typical serving contains much less, as tea is normally brewed much weaker. Besides strength of the brew, growing conditions, processing techniques and other variables also affect caffeine content. Certain types of tea may contain somewhat more caffeine than other teas.
Tea contains small amounts of theobromine and slightly higher levels of theophylline than coffee. Preparation and many other factors have a significant impact on tea, and color is a very poor indicator of caffeine content. Teas like the pale Japanese green tea, gyokuro, for example, contain far more caffeine than much darker teas like lapsang souchong, which has very little.
Caffeine is also a common ingredient of soft drinks, such as cola, originally prepared from kola nuts. Soft drinks typically contain about 10 to 50 milligrams of caffeine per serving. By contrast, energy drinks, such as Red Bull, can start at 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving. The caffeine in these drinks either originates from the ingredients used or is an additive derived from the product of decaffeination or from chemical synthesis. Guarana, a prime ingredient of energy drinks, contains large amounts of caffeine with small amounts of theobromine and theophylline in a naturally occurring slow-release excipient.
Chocolate derived from cocoa beans contains a small amount of caffeine. The weak stimulant effect of chocolate may be due to a combination of theobromine and theophylline, as well as caffeine. A typical 28-gram serving of a milk chocolate bar has about as much caffeine as a cup of decaffeinated coffee, although some dark chocolate currently in production contains as much as 160 mg per 100g.
(Primary source: Wikipedia)
December 28th, 2011
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