Scientist making baked goods filled with caffeine

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Do you need a caffeine fix but hate the taste?

A scientist has developed a way to eliminate caffeine’s bitter taste by adding it to baked goods.

Dr. Robert Bohannon, who owns Sips Coffee & Tea café and runs Environostics Inc. in North Carolina, has devised a way to give caffeine lovers a buzz through food like bagels and donuts.

“I was sitting with my milk and donut one day, and thought that I needed a jump,” Bohannon said. “I ordered some food-graded caffeine and asked a local baker to add it to donuts for me. But, the taste was very bitter.”

Since then, Bohannon has been developing a way to mask caffeine’s bitter taste by creating “buzzed” baked goods.

“The process is called micro-encapsulation,” he said. “Small solid particles of caffeine are taken and coated with some sort of edible material like vegetable oil. This way you can’t taste [the caffeine] anymore.”

Elisabeth Bright-See, a professor at Brescia University College and a nutrition expert, believes Bohannon is just attempting to add his products to the “addictive” list.

“There is no valid reason for adding caffeine to anything,” she said. “It’s not a necessary part of our diets.”

Dr. Leonard Piche, a registered dietitian and nutrition professor at Brescia, is concerned about “buzz” products’ effect on children. He said children already consume too much caffeine through pops and energy drinks and he believes adding baked goods could make things worse.

Bohannon doesn’t believe his products are a health concern.

“We are not talking about five grams of caffeine,” he said. “It’s just a cup of coffee.”

Although many university students love caffeinated products, several Western students disliked the idea of “buzz donuts” and “buzz bagels.”

Rahul Malhotra, a third-year engineering student at Western, said he prefers conventional means of caffeine intake like coffee.

Michelle Maccarone, a fourth-year psychology student, disliked the idea.

“I think it’s just going too far,” she said. “We are already putting enough caffeine in our bodies.”

Bohannon predicts his industry could become a $100-billion market. Although the product isn’t commercial yet, he said 1,000 convenience stores are willing to sell his products and he’s currently looking into collaborating with larger manufacturers like Krispy Kreme Donuts and Starbucks.

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