How does caffeine taste?

A number of caffeinated products such as caffeinated water have used buffering agents to hide the natural bitterness of caffeine. Caffeine is very bitter. Barq’s Root Beer contains caffeine and the company says that it has “12.78mg per 6oz” and that they “add it as a flavoring agent for the sharp bitterness”

There is some question of the validity of the caffeine as a flavor agent argument for soft drinks but regardless of whether caffeine is really used as a flavor enhancer it is tough for anyone who has ever had pure caffeine to argue with the fact that it is bitter.

Caffeinated products such as caffeinated water hide the natural bitterness of caffeine. In “The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug” the makers of Water Joe are quoted as saying that they rely on a method developed by a flavor chemist to masque the bitterness or caffeine. (page 206)

Ultimately, you can’t cut your caffeine intake by trying to consume less bitter-tasting drinks – coffee included. Beverage manufacturers are experts at flavoring and masking flavors to make them more addictive, regardless of the levels of caffeine in the drink. Sugar, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavoring agents will all easily overpower and balance out the natural bitterness of caffeine. Simply put: rely on nutrition label rather than your own taste buds.

12 thoughts on “How does caffeine taste?”

    1. caffine is very bitter take

      caffine is very bitter take it from some one who has drunk caffinated products since he was 4

    2. Cafeine definately has

      Cafeine definately has taste. Try decaf and cafeine coffee then u’ll taste the difference.Cafeine tastes bitter.

    3. Caffeine is extremely bitter

      I’ve tasted pure, powdered caffeine (extracted from coffee beans). It is extremely bitter taken as a solid or dissolved in water. The only comparably bitter substance that I’ve ever tried is dissolved codeine.

    4. You are incorrect. Water

      You are incorrect. Water Joe contains such a small amount of cafeine it is not tasted. Pure powdered cafeine is extremely bitter.

      1. I’m not sure, but I believe

        I’m not sure, but I believe that Water Joe contains buffered caffeine, which means it has really tiny globs of caffeine coated with a substance which has no taste and doesn’t dissolve in water but does dissolve in stomach acid. These globs are too small to see with he naked eye.

        When you drink Water Joe, the caffeine molecules never make it to your taste buds because of the coating. Once the Water Joe reaches your stomach, your stomach acid dissolves the coatings on all the little caffeine globs, thereby releasing the caffeine into your system.

        That’s why why Water Joe doesn’t taste bitter. It’s not because it has a small amount of caffeine. It takes far less than the 60 mg. of caffeine in Water Joe to impart a very bitter taste to water.

        This is just a theory of mine because I can’t find any evidence to prove it. However, I can’t think of any other way that Water Joe could have as much caffeine as it does and not taste horribly bitter.

  1. Barq’s and caffeine

    There seems to be some disagreement about Barq’s and caffeine content. In most locations Barq’s
    does have caffeine. Unless you purchase your Barq’s in Utah where it
    is made without caffeine in an attempt to appeal to the predominant Mormon
    population. It should also be mentioned that most root beers do not contain any

    For a short history of the caffeine content in Barq’s please visit the unofficial
    Barq’s blog
    entry on caffeine.

    1. Caffeine Powder

      I have ordered pure powder caffeine and I can say it is extremely bitter! It is very effective though… 🙂

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