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YouTue / Wired

What's in Your Cup of Coffee?

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YouTue / Wired

Have you ever wondered what gives coffee its distinctive odor? How about those chemicals in coffee that aren't caffeine -- what are they, and what do they do? In this super-short video from Wired, we get a breakdown of what's in a typical cup of coffee...and why good things sometimes come in small doses.

If you like your data in old-fashioned "written" form, check out this Wired page, which conveys roughly the same info. For instance:

Putrescine
Ever wonder what makes spoiled meat so poisonous? Here you go. Ptomaines like putrescine are produced when E. coli bacteria in the meat break down amino acids. Naturally present in coffee beans, it smells, as you might guess from the name, like Satan's outhouse.

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HuskeeCup
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Food
Drink Your Coffee Out of a Cup Made From Coffee Waste
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HuskeeCup

Your coffee habit isn’t exactly good for the environment. For one thing, 30 to 50 percent of the original coffee plant harvested (by weight) ends up as agricultural waste, and there aren’t many uses for coffee husks and pulp. While coffee pulp can be made into flour, and in Ethiopia husks are used to brew a type of coffee called bruno, typically most of the byproducts of your morning coffee go to waste.

Huskee has another use for coffee husks. The company makes stylish coffee cups, returning coffee back to its original home inside the husk, in a sense. The dishwasher-friendly and microwavable cups are made of husks from coffee farms in Yunnan, China. The material won’t burn your hands, but it keeps your coffee warm as well as a ceramic mug would.

A stack of black cups and saucers of various sizes on an espresso machine.
HuskeeCup

Designed for both home and restaurant use, the cups come in 6-ounce, 8-ounce, and 12-ounce sizes with saucers. The company is also working on a lid so that the cups can be used on the go.

Huskee estimates that a single coffee drinker is responsible for around 6.6 pounds of husk waste per year, which doesn’t sound like much until you begin to consider how many coffee lovers there are in the world. That’s somewhere around 1.49 million tons per year, according to the company. Though coffee husks are sometimes used for animal feed, we could use a few more ways to recycle them. And if it happens to be in the form of an attractive coffee mug, so be it.

A four-pack of cups is about $37 on Kickstarter. The product is scheduled to ship before February 2018.

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science
The Brain Chemistry Behind Your Caffeine Boost
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iStock

Whether it’s consumed as coffee, candy, or toothpaste, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. If you’ve ever wondered how a shot of espresso can make your groggy head feel alert and ready for the day, TED-Ed has the answer.

Caffeine works by hijacking receptors in the brain. The stimulant is nearly the same size and shape as adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down neural activity. Adenosine builds up as the day goes on, making us feel more tired as the day progresses. When caffeine enters your system, it falls into the receptors meant to catch adenosine, thus keeping you from feeling as sleepy as you would otherwise. The blocked adenosine receptors also leave room for the mood-boosting compound dopamine to settle into its receptors. Those increased dopamine levels lead to the boost in energy and mood you feel after finishing your morning coffee.

For a closer look at how this process works, check out the video below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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