|04:02 pm - Delusions of Competence, or: On caffiene|
So, I haven't posted in a while, and I figured I'd take a few moments to share a back and forth with Phil Broughton, better known as
"Herr Direktor" of Funranium Labs. Funranium makes a rather excellent little drink: a cold-brew vacuum extracted coffee, from really
good beans. Phil calls this brew Black Blood of the Earth. This is a reference to the movie "Big Trouble in Little China". You can
read more about the product at His Site
I ordered a case of the stuff recently, and after trying small doses for an extended period of time, decided to email my findings,
as well as some notes about my own unique physiology to him. While some might deem the information I provide to be an "overshare", I
have a legitimate interest in the chemistry involved, and feel the info provided is requisite to explain the scenario adequately.
From: "Dan Mahoney, System Admin"
To: Phillip Broughton
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2011 22:57:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Local Pickup Option?</p>
On Thu, 15 Sep 2011, Phillip Broughton wrote:
> Welcome to the ranks of the Test Subjects.
I'm rather enjoying BBOTE, and figured I'd make a few comments. Science
would say "observations".
I'm 325 Lbs. Despite being that heavy, I exhibit very few of the typical
health issues attributed to heavy people. I have a "slow" liver, which is
to say, my caffeine half-life is long. This is probably largely due to
some of my liver being highly fatty, due to a surgery a few years ago (a
I can easily fall asleep fully wired, my mind racing, and other than some
very lucid dreams, generally will wake up the following day feeling
refreshed. The same is true if I go to sleep very inebriated. My friends
only hate me because they're jealous.
At any rate, my caffeine half life is on the order of several days, even
after a full detox state. I am *not* your average caffeine consumer, and
I find that BBOTE affects me differently from normal coffee. You seem
bothered by the people who view BBOTE as simply a more hyper drug delivery
mechanism as opposed to a smoother, better drink, so I wanted to say a few
words on that.
My relationship with caffiene and coffee:
I'm a sysadmin. My mental chemistry is such that caffeine is a focus drug
for me. Code works better, background noise filters out more smoothly,
thought processes and goal visualization are better.
I've never drank it for the taste, and while I'll admit BBOTE is sweet and
palatable, I've always drank my coffee mixed with other things.
I can appreciate taste and quality. However, just because I like the
taste of turbinado sugar and kosher salt over their more generic
equivalents doesn't obligate me to always consume them straight, and in
general while I appreciate the tastes of coffees, it's always when cut
with dairy. To put a science twist here, we could say that I'm only
changing one variable: the coffee. The drink method is always the same.
I stopped drinking coffee and switched to tea a few months ago, as strong
coffee makes my stomach attempt to eat itself, and the only way to make
the gut stable was to add half and half. (the lactose keeps the
stomach at bay). The higher the fat content, the less the reflux.
How BBOTE seems to work differently:
1) It would seem that the acidity of the coffee, or the other ingredients
in traditionally brewed stuff, are at least partially responsible for the
jitters. With BBOTE and 2% milks, I get smooth, focused mental states,
without the "cornholio effect" that drinking a similar amount of espresso
and cream would give me.
2) As I'm given to understand, caffeine works by binding to the same
receptors in the brain and body as a similar neurotransmitter, Adenosine.
I believe that I've reached the point of being "fully blocked", above
which there is no more noticable effect. While I'm aware that of course,
greater quantities of the drug can go outright to the level of "poison"
and risk kidney/liver damage, I've definitely exceeded 100ml/day to no
major damage. I don't plan to continue doing so in any kind of quality,
but there may be a fascinating avenue for study here.
3) While I would go through a *pitcher* of tea, I can get similar effects
from ONE GLASS of bbote and milk. What this equates to is fewer bathroom
runs. I think this is actually the most ideal side effect.
What I'd like to see:
1) I'd like to know what the real number is, as far as caffiene goes.
While there's a fun-factor in not knowing, I'm more curious as to my own
phisiology, and how it reacts so differently. How would I go about
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem00/chem00291.htm lists a
possible procedure that doesn't seem to involve a chromatograph.
2) I've got several different varieties of BBOTE, but I haven't been able
to find info on all of them. It would really be neat if you had
information about ALL of the origins you've carried on your site, like the
malabor, and the death wish. Tell us the stories! We want to know!
3) Since I've discovered BBOTE, my local coffee shop, The Grind in Redwood
City, hasn't done their usual level of business with me. While you are
also a small, local business, there's an option that intruiges me: what
would be the possibility of doing science, and BBOTEifying a few of their
house blends as a custom order, so I could compare levels on the same
beans, which differ only by prep methods?
I think that's all I've got. Thanks for putting up with my blather!
He replied less than 24 hours later, in equal depth and volume. I've removed the "quoted" portion, as well as sanitizing the email
From: Phillip Broughton
To: "Dan Mahoney, System Admin"
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2011 09:46:12 -0700
Subject: Re: Local Pickup Option?</p>
I'm not sure bothered is quite the correct term. Disappointed perhaps?
I'm resigned to the fact that there are a lot of people who shotgun
BBotE just for the kick without ever taking the time to enjoy what
they're drinking. I've got a similar feeling about how I watch far too
many people consume good alcohol; it grows out of their experience of
bad booze, throwing it back to get it the hell away from your tongue.
Making a cocktail or whatever still makes me happy as you're tinkering
with the BBotE and finding new things in it that work for you.
In short, yer doin' it rite :). For the record, what is your normal
preparation mix? When tea just won't cut it or the whim takes her, My
Lovely Assistant prepares Retiro (the only BBotE she actually likes)
with a ~5:1 milk to BBotE mix with a teaspoon of, as you mentioned,
As far as going above my normal recommended daily allowance, I do it
fairly regularly but not by much and I space out the consumption. 75ml
in the morning with email checking ritual and 75ml more in the late
afternoon to fight the siesta impulse, so more than 100ml, but not all
that much more and separated by more than 6hrs. More than that and I
start getting the overdose indicators (tinnitis, auras).
The concentration effects you discuss were first described by a former
housemate and puppeteer who declared that BBotE gave him "delusions of
competence". The ability to sit down, think of something "impossible",
and then focus and make it happen. This generally agrees with the
hallucinogenic properties of caffeine (intense focus, detail study,
with auditory & visual effects at higher doses). My reckoning of what
is going on is that I've managed to selectively extract caffeine while
leaving the theophylline (a definite stimulant we normally use as an
asthma medication) behind. Theophylline is also present in tea in high
quantities, but a hot elution of coffee will give you a big hit of
both chemicals. Theophylline is also the first liver metabolite of
caffeine. So, if I give you a caffeine-only hit with BBotE, you get
theophylline no faster than your own liver can make it and get to
enjoy the caffeine effects alone for longer.
Or, at least, that's my observation.
As far as getting hard numbers, it has proven harder than I expected.
Currently have quite a few samples in the hands of a food scientist
out in College Park, MD. That first methylene chloride extraction
method was where we started that destroyed the GC column, followed by
a gravimetric attempt that proved impossibly wrong. I think I can be
patient and wait for the scientist with actual expertise in this field
to figure it out.
The reason I don't list the sourcing for all BBotE varieties is that I
don't have permission from their roasters to mention them. Santa Cruz
Roastin Co., Ritual Coffee, Death Wish, and Caffe Vita have been most
kind in letting me promote their wares while making something
delicious from them; not everyone wants to be associated with what
some see as a dangerous product lest there be liability issues. *sigh*
However, I have done my best to tell the tale of the tastings that
made those given varieties the regulars that they are...though you may
have to dig a ways back.
Ah, The Grind. I know them well from my days in Mountain View. If you
have some beans you'd like to volunteer for experimental processing,
I'd be happy to turn them into BBotE for you and see what happens.
Since you'd be providing the beans, I'd have no option but to make the
resulting BBotE drastically cheaper for you of course. Need at least
2lbs of any given variety for a good statistical sample.
Alright, enough of *my* blather. Thanks for dropping a line and back to work.
All in all, I'm extremely satisfied with this purchase, and if you come to my Thanksgiving Thing (which is perhaps the subject of my
next post), I'd love to share some with you.