This website is dedicated to everything delicious and outstanding that this planet holds. Yes, you will find reviews of some rare coffee beans, like Black Ivory Coffee, or nearly lost once, Geisha Coffee… However, from time to time, we will also warn you about some products that can harm your health. This post is about the so-called battery coffee, so far found only in Vietnam and yes, this “coffee” is toxic. Let’s check what battery coffee is, where you can find it, and most importantly, how to avoid it.
What is Battery Coffee?
This coffee has many names, such as “dirty” coffee, battery-powered coffee mixture, and substandard coffee mixed with battery powder. It is precisely what the name indicates; low-quality coffee beans that are processed together with battery powder mixture giving the coffee beans extra dark color. This battery powder is manganese dioxide that used to be the batteries’ core. Surely, not the best way to recycle batteries, right?
How Widespread is Battery Coffee in Vietnam?
In April 2019, there was a police action in Dak Nong province (Central Highlands of Vietnam) where they closed down one coffee plant. During the raid, they seized 21 tons of prepared coffee-battery mixture, 40 liters of solution containing battery powder, taken from used D batteries and two barrels filled with battery shells. F*** knows how many tons of this shit went out to the market before the raid.
How to Avoid Fake Coffee in Vietnam?
Maybe this is just a small producer and the practice is more common than we think. Maybe! I reckon that someone is hiding the real numbers to protect the country’s economic reputation. After all, Vietnam is the second biggest coffee exporter in the world and as you probably know this industry is thriving. The bottom line is, you get what you pay for, and checking the traceability should become a habit.
Is Battery Coffee Harmful to People?
According to common sense, this stuff can kill you if you consume it regularly. Manganese oxide, which is present, is a toxic compound that can cause severe poisoning, ending in damaged organs if you consume as little as 0.5 milligrams of the chemical. On top of that, this black powder also has heavy metals, such as lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd). Poisoning caused by these heavy metals can have serious health effects, such as damage to the brain, kidney, liver, cardiovascular system, and different fertility problems.
Are there Other Tricks With Vietnamese Coffee?
If you have been to Vietnam, you know how sacred the money is there. Probably as elsewhere in the world, to be honest. But seriously, the business decisions are typically made with the most significant profit in mind. So to answer the question above; people’s creativity has no limits and highly sweetened coffee can hide some unethical production steps. According to Says.com, there was a raid in 2015, where they seized suspicious black liquid used as a substitute to the Vietnamese coffee.
If you would quickly look and smell this dark liquid, you’d easily mistake it for the real coffee brew. It is that similar to the real coffee, but not surprisingly, it brings much more money to the seller. With a liter of this chemical (1 liter costs about 17 USD), one can sell 400 cups of coffee. Compare that to the same amount of ground coffee (a cheap ground coffee cost about 7 USD per kg), which cannot make more than 40 cups. What is more concerning is the fact that this chemical is coming from China – a country where morality is right after freedom.
Is This Fake Vietnamese Coffee Toxic?
City Chemistry Association said the liquid likely contains dangerous heavy metals such as lead and mercury which, if consumed regularly, can accumulate and cause liver and stomach cancer. Again, you can’t know for sure how widespread is this practice.
Battery Black Pepper
Later, there was a news report, which claimed this battery coffee mixture was prepared to be sold as black pepper and not as coffee powder. However, as I said before, this can be just fake news to calm down people and save the respect of Vietnamese coffee beans. Politics is complicated and more often than not, lacks real common sense.
Should I Still Drink Vietnamese Coffee?
Of course, my friend! You should drink this delicious Vietnamese coffee. One “bad example” doesn’t make all coffee poisonous. Also, if you don’t give a damn about climate change, this shouldn’t bother you at all. Enjoy your illusion of the perfect world. Only God knows (keep calm, it’s just a metaphor) how far are we from having questionable dark liquid as the only coffee available on the market. It’s not a secret that there is more than half of the world’s coffee in danger of extinction!
Please be realistic and accept the tempting opportunities for the production of fake coffee. People must earn a living. Keeping an open mind and enjoying the present moment is a good start. Be aware that the world is not yet a sad coffee-free place and you can make a change by supporting fair trade. Occasionally treating yourself with premium coffee is a tasty joy with a good purpose. Our number one is for sure the Black Ivory Coffee. Which one is yours?