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Black Insomnia Coffee

The World's Strongest Coffee is Now Available in the United States

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Black Insomnia Coffee

Like the race to make the world's hottest pepper, there's also a heated competition in the culinary world to create the strongest cup of coffee. Right now, the apparent winner is Black Insomnia Coffee, which launched in South Africa last year. With a whopping 702 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce serving, Black Insomnia is four times stronger than the average cup of joe. If the idea of trying some makes your eye twitch with excitement, we have some great news: The coffee is now available in the United States.

Previously, the aptly named Death Wish Coffee was believed to be the strongest coffee in the world. But Grub Street reports that they were dethroned after Black Insomnia Coffee hired a lab in Switzerland to conduct an independent study to see which beans were strongest. While Death Wish came in at a powerful 660 milligrams of caffeine per serving, Black Insomnia is the clear winner. (You can see the results in this PDF.)

You can soon, and very conveniently, purchase a bag of this potent stuff on Amazon, but be careful. As Food & Wine points out, medical experts discourage consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine during any given day—and just a single cup of Black Insomnia is nearly double that amount. If you decide to throw caution to the freshly-ground wind, a 16-ounce bag of beans will cost you $19.99.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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science
Why Adding Water to Your Whiskey Makes It Taste Better
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iStock

Don’t ever let people tease you for watering down your whiskey. If they’re true aficionados, they’ll know that adding a splash of water or a few cubes of ice to your drink will actually enhance its natural flavors. But how can something as flavorless as water make a barrel-aged scotch or bourbon taste even better? Chemists think they’ve found the answer.

As The Verge reports, researchers from the Linnæus University Centre for Biomaterials Chemistry in Sweden analyzed the molecular composition of whiskey in the presence of water. We already know that the molecule guaiacol is largely responsible for whiskey’s smoky taste and aroma. Guaiacol bonds to alcohol molecules, which means that in straight whiskey that guaiacol flavor will be fairly evenly distributed throughout the cask. Alcohol is repelled by water, and guaiacol partially so. That means when a splash of water is added to the beverage the alcohol gets pushed to the surface, dragging the guaiacol along with it. Concentrated at the top of the glass, the whiskey’s distinctive taste and scent is in the perfect position to be noticed by the drinker.

According to the team’s experiments, which they laid out in the journal Scientific Reports [PDF], whiskey that’s been diluted down to 40 percent to 45 percent alcohol content will start to show more guaiacol sloshing near the surface. Most commercial whiskey is already diluted before it's bottled, so the drink you order in a bar should fall within this range to begin with. Adding additional water or ice will boost the flavor-enhancing effect even further.

As for just how much water to add, the paper doesn’t specify. Whiskey lovers will just have to conduct some experiments of their own to see which ratios suit their palate.

[h/t NPR]

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Starbucks
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Food
It’s Still Summer, But Pumpkin Spice Lattes Are Already Here
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Starbucks

It’s August, so go ahead and gird yourself for pumpkin season. Yes, that tell-tale sign of impending autumn, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, is about to come back, according to Fortune. The company hasn't released a specific launch date, but it just announced that a new bottled version of the latte will be coming to grocery stores this month, along with pumpkin spice ground coffee.

Last year, the PSL arrived in Starbucks stores on September 1; the year before, it was September 8. There's no denying that the coffee chain is forcing its fall favorites on us earlier and earlier. Early enough to make us consider getting that Pumpkin Spice over ice, in fact.

The much-derided orange beverage is just the most famous example of a marketing trend that spreads far beyond coffee. As early as late July, pumpkin-flavored snacks, cookies, cereals, and other foods you wouldn’t think should taste like pumpkin start hitting stores, giving the people what they really want: to pretend they’re cozying up in a scarf on a rainy fall day instead of sitting in front of their air conditioners in their underwear.

Why does Starbucks keep pushing the starting line of the fall season closer and closer to mid-summer? Dollar bills, obviously. In the first decade after the drink’s launch in 2003, the company sold around 200 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes. In 2015, Forbes estimated that it would make $100 million from the PSL that fall alone. Despite the online hate, a huge chunk of people loooove their PSLs.

These days, it’s not fall until someone starts hating on the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Besides, climate change will eventually render seasons moot, right?

[h/t Fortune]

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