Recipe–Does Caffeine Cook Out Like Alcohol During Baking?

Q:

Dear Caleb,

On my blog, one of the readers asked if caffeine cooks out.  My limited research says it doesn’t, but everything I found was opinions.  Do you know anything about caffeine?  I am pretty sure it doesn’t cook out, but some people said cooking it made it more concentrated.  I read that caffeine can soak out here.

Main article: Decaffeination

Extraction of caffeine from coffee, to produce decaffeinated coffee and caffeine, is an important industrial process and can be performed using a number of different solvents. Benzene, chloroform, trichloroethylene, and dichloromethanehave all been used over the years but for reasons of safety, environmental impact, cost, and flavor, they have been superseded by the following main methods:

  • Water extraction: Coffee beans are soaked in water. The water, which contains many other compounds in addition to caffeine and contributes to the flavor of coffee, is then passed through activated charcoal, which removes the caffeine. The water can then be put back with the beans and evaporated dry, leaving decaffeinated coffee with its original flavor. Coffee manufacturers recover the caffeine and resell it for use in soft drinks and over-the-counter caffeine tablets.[118]

Just Curious,

–rebecca

And this is what my brother wrote.

A:  Caffeine has a crystalline structure. In cooking or baking it is going to act like salt or sugar. When you cook or bake something with coffee as an ingredient the water will cook out but the caffeine stays in the food.
Yes, you can soak it out if you remove the water somehow other than evaporation because the caffeine is dissolved in the coffee. I don’t know why you would do that because you would also remove all of the coffee taste.
Cooking it technically makes it more concentrated but it will not make the effect of the caffeine stronger. You are concentrating it because you are removing water so there is more caffeine per volume of water in the food. It will not, however, give the food any more “kick”. Think of it this way. If you put one cup of strong coffee in a recipe of brownies and put the brownies in the oven, then the water will evaporate out of the brownies while they cook. You have less water in the brownies when they are finished baking so the caffeine is more concentrated per ounce of water but you will never have more than one cup of coffee worth of caffeine in the recipe. Hope this makes sense.

I TOLD YOU HE WOULD KNOW!!

Thanks bro,

–rebecca

P.S. “Caffeine” is one of those “i before e” words that doesn’t follow the rule.

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2 Responses to Recipe–Does Caffeine Cook Out Like Alcohol During Baking?

  1. Lisa Buchanan says:

    Interesting! Thanks!

  2. brooke says:

    Thanks Rebecca–and Caleb. You are star researchers! I’ll pass this on to Tadd since he roasts his own coffee beans–now when he is out of decaf beans and we need decaf to go with dessert he can attempt to extract the caffeine himself.
    I’ll sub in ginger ale on those recipes :) PW has a note at the bottom of the apple dumplings saying that will work anyhow.

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