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Test to reveal if your coffee is fake

IANS  |  New York 

Is your cup of hot coffee brimming with ingredients like starch syrup that are neither sweet nor flavourful? Worry not as a test to detect counterfeit coffee is here.

According to a significant study, growing coffee shortages may increase the chance of having fillers in your coffee in the future.

With new test, it is now possible to know with 95 percent accuracy if coffee is pure or has been tampered with corn, barley, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, acai seed, brown sugar or starch syrup, researchers said.

These extra ingredients, though not harmful, make ground coffee go farther and increase profits for producers.

"With a lower supply of coffee in the market, prices rise and that favours fraud because of the economic gain," said lead researcher Suzana Lucy Nixdorf from State University of Londrina in Brazil.

The test uses liquid chromatography and statistical tools.

This gives the team a much closer look at the ingredients in an unbiased way, according to Nixdorf.

Chromatography is a powerful analytical technique that is very sensitive and highly selective.

"Because much of the coffee is composed of carbohydrates, researchers could develop a 'characteristic fingerprint' when using chromatography that separates out the real coffee compounds," Nixdorf noted.

The added, unwanted grain fillers generate different levels of sugars than the natural ingredients, so they are easy to identify.

According to researchers, after roasting and grinding the raw material, it becomes impossible to see any difference between grains of lower cost incorporated into the coffee, especially because of the dark colour and oily texture of coffee.

"Our test quickly finds coffee containing unwanted fillers before the beverage reaches stores and restaurants," researchers said.

The findings will be part of the 248th national meeting and exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, this week.

First Published: Mon, August 11 2014. 15:16 IST