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Puroast Coffee Files Complaint with North Carolina Attorney General Alleging that Starbucks is Selling Coffee Adulterated with Potassium

Wednesday, 02 November 2022 02:00 PM

Puroast Coffee

Undisclosed Chemical Alters Flavor by Artificially Reducing Acid Level

HIGH POINT, NC / ACCESSWIRE / November 2, 2022 / Puroast® Coffee Company Inc. has filed a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General that alleges Starbucks Corporation is adding high levels of potassium to some of its coffee labeled "100% Arabica Coffee" and not disclosing the fact to consumers. By adulterating the coffee with the chemical Starbucks is deceiving consumers, artificially changing the flavor of its coffee.

Puroast Coffee, which is headquartered in High Point, N.C., says the abnormally high levels of potassium were discovered in bags of Starbucks Dark French Roast Coffee sold at grocery stores. Independent laboratory tests conducted in August by Salam A. Ibrahim, Ph.D., a research professor at the North Carolina A&T State University, confirmed the presence of abnormal amounts of potassium in the Starbucks Coffee. While baseline amounts of potassium are present naturally in coffee and other foods, the amount of potassium found in the Starbucks Dark French Roast that was tested at North Carolina A&T far exceeds what was found in other national coffee brands and is not statistically explainable as an organic deviation, according to Dr. Ibrahim.

"The facts coming from Dr. Ibrahim's study are conclusive - Starbucks is adding potassium to roasted coffee, significantly altering brew acid levels and flavor. This is an unprecedented deception by a national brand that has far reaching implications for consumer trust of the purity of coffee," says Kerry Sachs, CEO of Puroast Coffee. "It is well-known that adding buffers like potassium to coffee reduces acid and bitterness. Coffee companies are required to disclose additives, whether it's a flavoring or some other non-coffee ingredient. It's hard to understand why Starbucks is doing this without telling anyone."

Sachs said Puroast discovered the adulterated Starbucks Dark French Roast Coffee because the company regularly monitors other brands in the market. "Puroast Coffee is 100% pure coffee that has less acid and more antioxidants than any other brand. We do it naturally, without any additives. It is the core of our business and why we've built a loyal consumer following," Sachs said. "It matters to us when a company is doing things artificially, and we strongly believe it will matter to coffee consumers - especially when the company is not disclosing it is adding chemicals to its coffee."

"The tests completed by labs at North Carolina A&T found Starbucks Dark French Roast had potassium levels that are more than 14 standard deviation points above the other national brands we tested. This is a significant spike that suggests potassium was added to the coffee during processing," said Dr. Ibrahim. "The result is the pH level for the Starbucks tested was 5.7. Average pH levels for coffee are typically 4.85 to 5.2. By adding potassium, Starbucks is reducing the acidity level of its Dark French Roast and artificially making the flavor smoother. These tests show that potassium is being added, but this chemical ingredient is not disclosed on the packaging."

Dr. Ibrahim said the testing process used to find the high potassium levels follows accepted scientific peer review methodology and relied on sophisticated analytical equipment. Previous studies, including a 2016 National Institutes of Health report, show traditionally higher levels of acid in Starbucks Coffee. This fact, combined with the extraordinary high potassium levels detected by Dr. Ibrahim, leads to the conclusion that Starbucks is intentionally adding potassium to their coffee. The Starbucks Dark French Roast Coffee tested was purchased between June and August 2022 at four different grocery store chains in California, Florida, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

According to the complaint filed at the end of September with the North Carolina Attorney General on behalf of Puroast Coffee by the Puryear and Lingle law firm in Greensboro, Starbucks is violating North Carolina labelling statutes by not disclosing the potassium ingredient on their packaging. Puryear and Lingle said the complaint against Starbucks has been referred by the state Attorney General's office to North Carolina Department of Agriculture for a formal investigation.

Dr. Taka Shibamoto, who conducted prior acid chemistry studies on coffee at the University of California, Davis, reviewed the North Carolina A&T findings and said his opinion is the data was conclusive that Starbucks was adding potassium, likely potassium carbonate, as a buffering agent resulting in a corresponding decrease of acid in the coffee.

"Puroast is the only company I'm aware that is producing low acid coffee without the use of buffering agents," Dr. Shibamoto said. "The pH differences between Puroast and the other coffees tested was significant enough to have our study accepted for publication. A follow-on study presented at the American Chemical Society proves roasting such as that Puroast could be using, convert certain acids into quite strong antioxidants such as polyphenols."

Puroast Coffee is 100% pure coffee that is naturally 70% lower in acid and has seven times higher antioxidant levels than green tea and more than five times more than other coffees. This data was confirmed by the published research of Dr. Shibamoto. Lower acid levels in coffee are important to consumers looking for smoother tasting coffee and those trying to limit acid intake because of heartburn or acid reflux disease.

The amount of potassium found in the Starbucks Dark French Roast that was tested at North Carolina A&T exceeds what was found in other national coffee brands tested and is not statistically explainable as an organic deviation, according to Dr. Ibrahim. Not disclosing the addition of the chemical is particularly worrisome for some people who have health conditions that require them to adhere to low potassium diets. According to the National Kidney Foundation, hyperkalemia is a medical issue that results when someone has too much potassium in their blood. Potassium helps nerves, muscles and your heart operate properly, but high levels can be dangerous and lead to serious heart problems. The National Institutes of Health recommend adults get between 2,600-3,400 milligrams of potassium a day, but for people with hyperkalemia, kidney disease, heart issues and conditions such as Addison's Disease, the recommended daily intake of potassium can be 2,000 milligrams or lower.

"Consumers have a right to know what is in their coffee. Starbucks is a global brand and one of the most recognized coffees in the world. If they are adulterating coffee and not disclosing chemical additives, it could shake consumer confidence in the entire coffee category," Sachs said. "Puroast Coffee has a unique combination of flavor and wellness benefits which have been verified by independent scientific testing as 100% natural. We're encouraged that the North Carolina Attorney General has referred the complaint to the state Department of Agriculture, which we hope will act to stop Starbucks sales of mislabeled coffee."

About Puroast Coffee

Puroast Coffee Company Inc. was founded after a 1986 visit to a coffee plantation in foothills of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela. The quest for a great, smooth cup of coffee developed into a business focused on coffee that has exquisite flavor, proven lower acid and higher antioxidants. The company originally sold its coffee through natural food stores and co-ops in California. Today, Puroast Coffee can be ordered through the company's online store; via Amazon; at leading retailers, including Kroger, Publix, Ralph's, Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, Market Basket and Natural Grocer; and at the Puroast Coffeehouse in Miami. Learn more about "The Best Coffee in the World, For the World" at

Media Contact

Kerry Sachs
Puroast Coffee

SOURCE: Puroast Coffee

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