Coffee FAQs

Acidity in Coffee FAQs

Is there acidity in coffee?

Coffee has literally hundreds of different taste and composition characteristics, and one of those is acidity. The acidity varies greatly from coffee to coffee. Non-citric acidity is generally considered a good quality in coffee, especially in Central American and East African varietals. However, the acidity in coffee can cause difficulties for persons with a history of reflux or other gastric or digestive problems.

What causes the acidity in coffee?

While coffee is naturally acidic, coffee grown at higher altitudes, and coffee grown in soil rich with volcanic ash are known to be more acidic than other coffees. Acidicity is also effected by roasting times and temperatures.

Is there a way to brew the acidity out of coffee?

Cold-brewing is the best way to significantly reduce the acidity in coffee.


Allergen FAQs

Do your coffees contain gluten, tree nuts, coconuts, or other allergens?

None of our single origin or blended roasts contain gluten or allergens. With the exception of Cafe Fair Hazelnut, all of the flavorings for our flavored coffees are listed by our flavoring suppliers as Allergen-free, and do not contain gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, coconut, milk, celery, mustard, or sesame seeds.  Click here to see a detailed spreadsheet containing most of our flavored coffees.

What ingredients are in your flavored coffees?

The ingredients of our flavored coffee vary little from one flavored coffee to another. In addition to the coffee beans, all flavored coffees are made with a flavored syrup, which we receive from food ingredient and flavoring houses.

The composition of the flavored syrups is made up of Natural and Artificial Flavorings, Propylene glycol, Glycerine, Ethyl Alcohol, and water. Some may contain Caramel coloring. To our knowledge, none contain any additives from palm oil. Propylene glycol (PG), the primary soluble agent, is one of the most common carriers used in food ingredient composition
and in a wide range of consumer products. It is also not considered an allergen or irritant.

 

Brewing FAQs

How many cups do Individual Coffee Packets make?

It all depends on how strong the person likes their coffee. For some it might make about 2-3 cups, while others use a pack for 12 cups. Experiment on your own. We recommend about 4-6 cups for a medium strength cup (Note: for coffee, a cup is 6oz).


Caffeine FAQs

How much caffeine is in coffee?

While coffees vary in caffeine levels depending on genetics and growing conditions, typically a cup (coffee cups are 6 oz) of well prepared coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine. Dark roasts have a little less than light roasts as the higher roasting temperatures break down the caffeine. A pound of coffee yields about 40 cups of well made coffee.

Coffee that has been decaffeinated is typically 97% caffeine free. The remaining 3% is very tightly bound to the coffee bean and only a tiny amount of this caffeine gets extracted when brewing. For all intents and purposes, a cup of brewed decaf coffee is virtually free of caffeine. For more information about caffeine in coffee go to http://www.ico.org/caffeine.asp#content.

How much caffeine is in tea?

Tea contains more caffeine by weight than coffee, but since less tea is used in the prepararation of tea, there is on average less caffeine per cup than coffee. 
For more information about caffeine in tea go to http://www.ico.org/caffeine.asp#content.

 

Calorie and Nutrition FAQs

How many calories are in your flavored coffee?

Our flavored coffees all contain less than two calories per 6oz cup.
 

Caffeine and Decaf FAQs

How Much Caffeine is in Coffee?

While coffees vary in caffeine levels depending on genetics and growing conditions, typically a cup (coffee cups are 6 oz) of well prepared coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine. Dark roasts have a little less than light roasts as the higher roasting temperatures break down the caffeine. A pound of coffee yields about 40 cups of well made coffee.

Coffee that has been decaffeinated is typically 97% caffeine free. The remaining 3% is very tightly bound to the coffee bean and only a tiny amount of this caffeine gets extracted when brewing. For all intents and purposes, a cup of brewed decaf coffee is virtually free of caffeine.

For more information about caffeine in coffee go to http://www.ico.org/caffeine.asp#content.


How Much Caffeine is in Tea?

Tea contains more caffeine by weight than coffee, but since less tea is used in the prepararation of tea, there is on average less caffeine per cup than coffee. 

For more information about caffeine in tea go to http://www.ico.org/caffeine.asp#content. 
 

Decaffeination FAQs

How is coffee decaffeinated?

Drinkers of decaffeinated coffee can choose from a wide variety of unblended, blended, and flavored coffees with little sacrifice to flavor. Since the introduction of decaffeinated coffee to the United States just before World War I, the coffee industry has developed several methods to remove caffeine with a minimal loss of flavor and quality in the brewed product. A coffee must have at least 97 percent of its caffeine removed to qualify as decaffeinated in the United States.

Although caffeine is water soluble above 175F, water alone is generally not used to decaffeinate coffee because it strips away too many of essential flavor and aroma elements. Decaffeination involves the use of a decaffeinating agent. To give the best taste, the decaffeinating agent must be very selective at removing caffeine without disturbing the flavor components. The two best at this are carbon dioxide (Chem Free) and methylene chloride (Euro Decaf). Carbon dioxide is the bubbles in beverages and what we exhale with every breath. Methylene chloride is a light organic chemical that evaporates at warm temperatures. The processes are explained in more detail below:

What is the difference between Chem-Free and European Decaf processes?

Chem Free Decaf Process:

The green (unroasted) beans are first softened by steam, to allow the solvent to penetrate the bean. Next, the beans are immersed in liquid carbon dioxide which is under very high pressure. It penetrates the beans and dissolves the caffeine. The carbon dioxide is then drawn off, leaving the beans 97 percent free of caffeine. The solvent residue remaining on the beans dissipates as a gas when the beans return to normal pressure. All coffees labeled “Chem Free” (and all Café Fair decafs) use this process.
 
Euro Decaf Process:
 
This method is similar to the chem-free process; however, methylene chloride is used to remove the caffeine rather than carbon dioxide and since methylene chloride is a liquid it is not under high pressure. After soaking the caffeine laden solvent is drained away, and the beans are steamed a second time for 8 to 12 hours to evaporate any remaining solvent. Finally, air or vacuum drying removes excess moister from the decaffeinated beans. Virtually no solvent residue remains after roasting the beans. For this process we only use a decaffeinator in Hamburg Germany, because they a very diligent about removing the solvent.

Why does decaffeinated coffee costs more?

Decaffeinated coffees are usually priced higher than the same brand's non-decaffeinated coffees because of the additional labor, equipment and material expenses required for caffeine removal. For example, beans are shipped to Europe to be decaffeinated, then back to our facility in the U.S. for roasting.

 

Freshness FAQs

Does Steep & Brew put "Best By" or "Roasted On" dates on their bags?  

While we don't have a clear freshness date or Sell By date on our bags, we actually do have a manufacturers date code on all our bags. This enables our route reps and sales associates to monitor product freshness, and provides a means to identify product based on specific production dates should we ever have a production or mislabeling issue that would require recalling product.  This code is a commonly used manufacturing code consisting of a letter, and a number (i.e. a5, B3, etc). The letter represents the week of the year - between caps and small letters, there are 52 unique letters, one for each week of the year. The numbers 1 - 6 represent Mon-Sat. We only produce one run of a particular roast/flavor and package size on any given day, so we can identify exactly which production roast each bag is from by comparing the code on a bag to our code chart.

We've been hesitant to use clear "Best By", or  "Produced On" dates for a number of reasons, the greatest being that with coffee it can create confusion, even among the most astute shoppers. For example, if comparing two different bagged brands, one with a Best By date of January 15, 2015, the other with a Production Date of July 15, 2014, which would you choose if shopping on December 15, 2014? Which is freshest? Our research shows most would choose the January 15th date, regarding the July 15th coffee as old. What they don't know is that most of the better known bagged coffee companies set their Best By date at one-year from actual production. In all likelihood, the coffee with the January 15th date would be 6 months older than the coffee with the July 15th date. Though it appears transparent, including dates can actually mislead consumers, as not all dates mean the same thing. Some use 270 days, a couple use 180 days, only one that we know of uses 90 days. We target 60 days. In addition, our research with focus groups also revealed that few coffee drinkers had a clear idea of what is "fresh" for coffee, and how old is too old. 
 

2015 Steep & Brew Date Code Chart 
Week Code Week Code Week Code Week Code Week Code
12-15-14 M 02-23-15 c or #C 05-04-15 e or #E 07-13-15 G 09-21-15 m or #M
12-22-15 E 03-02-15 N 05-11-15 u or #U 07-20-15 x or #X 09-28-15 O
12-29-15 p or #P 03-09-15 R 05-18-15 Q 07-27-15 o or #O 10-05-15 w or #W
01-05-15 y or #Y 03-16-15 S 05-25-15 A 08-03-15 W 10-12-15 h or #H
01-12-15 a or #A 03-23-15 F 06-01-15 f or #F 08-10-15 B 10-19-15 q or #Q
01-19-15 D 03-30-15 l or #L 06-08-15 t or #T 08-17-15 g or #G 10-26-15 X
01-26-15 b or #B 04-06-15 V 06-15-15 k or #K 08-24-15 s or #S 11-02-15 P
02-02-15 T 04-13-15 J 06-22-15 I 08-31-15 Z 11-09-15 H
02-09-15 U 04-20-15 z or #Z 06-29-15 d or #D 09-07-15 i or #I 11-16-15 v or #V
02-16-15 K 04-27-15 n or #N 07-06-15 r or #R 09-14-15 Y 11-23-15 j or J

Add 1-5 to any letter for M-F of the week indicated - i.e. M1 would have been produced on Mon 12/15/2014, M3 on Wed 12/17
 

How old is too old? Does coffee go bad?  

Like wine, fresh roasted coffee beans have complex flavor profiles, with hundreds of taste and flavor characteristics per cup of brewed coffee. Fresh roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide, and when exposed to oxygen, flavor. Coffee vacuum-sealed in oxygen-barrier film bags, with degassing valves will maintain its freshness for an extended period of time, but will still lose flavor over time. While properly stored coffee almost never goes bad, its flavor does becomes bland and unremarkable. Though inoffensive, its flavor is a pale ghost of its original self.

Coffee can become musty, moldy, or mildewy in improper storage condition.
 

Shipping FAQs

Why do you charge a flat rate for shipping?  

Our flat shipping charge ($5.50) is based on the average minimum charge to ship our orders via UPS Ground in the continental U.S. While the average order does cost us over $10.00 for handling, packing and shipping, we only charge the $5.50 rate to help defray the costs. 

We've priced our premium arabica coffees well below that of national premium brand name coffees, so that even with the flat shipping charge, our online customers will only pay about what they would at grocery for those same lesser quality national brands (based upon typical sized orders 4-6 bags). Some customers combine orders with family and friends to further defray the shipping costs. We also keep our prices well below that of other online competitors.

 

(Updated 03/31/2015)