Starbucks Dark French Roast Coffee Is Allegedly Not 100% Coffee

If your coffee isn't 100% coffee, what is it? It's a terrifying thought, isn't it? We trust implicitly that any product labeled "coffee" is just that and nothing else. Especially if it says it's "100%" this type of bean or that type of bean, it doesn't even go without saying in that case, it's said. But apparently, we need to be taking a closer look at what's in our coffee. Or maybe just add "so you can see what you're getting" to the reasons you should brew with whole bean coffee. Unfortunately, not even whole bean coffee may be safe from additives.

A complaint filed recently with the North Carolina Department of Justice's Consumer Protection Division claims Starbucks Dark French Roast Coffee isn't all it claims to be. The product states on the package that it's "100% Arabica Coffee" (per NY Post). However, the complaint, and the independent lab findings that back it up, claim that the coffee contains potentially dangerous levels of an essential nutrient sometimes used as a coffee additive that is completely undisclosed on the package.

Potentially dangerous mineral levels

According to the New York Post, independent lab tests performed on Starbucks coffee found that Dark French Roast Coffee had 13% higher levels of potassium than the brand's house blend. These levels were also substantially higher than Dunkin' Donuts and Lavazza's dark roast blends. Specifically, the complaint states, "These significant variances ... can only be explained by the purposeful addition of potassium to the coffee during Starbucks' production process." The addition of potassium makes coffee less acidic and taste less bitter.

At face value, such a change may seem like a harmless addition, but not only do FDA regulations legally obligate the Starbucks Corporation to list the ingredients of any product including additives, but substantially high levels of potassium are potentially dangerous. According to the American Kidney Fund, high potassium levels can pose a threat to those with kidney problems. Perhaps even more frighteningly, if you drink high quantities of coffee, the adulterated dark roast could be dangerous for anyone. 

One cup of normal black coffee contains about 116 milligrams of potassium (per National Kidney Foundation). Have four cups and you're putting yourself into the high range. Tack on the extra 13% you'd be getting by drinking Starbucks Dark French Roast, and you're at a potentially dangerous level for even a healthy person. According to the Cleveland Clinic, too much potassium in the bloodstream, a condition known as hyperkalemia, can damage the heart and even cause a heart attack.

In the aftermath of the announcement, Starbucks responded to the claims, simultaneously acknowledging and dismissing the complaint. In a statement provided to the New York Post, Starbucks wrote, "We do not add potassium to Starbucks Dark French Roast coffee."