Argh! Trans fats in COFFEE

February 2, 2007

My friend and I were having dosai at Saravanna Bhavan (a truly great Indian vegetarian restaurant, at Bellilos Road off Serangoon Road) after Thaipusam photography yesterday when the Indian lady at the next table kept smiling at us. She was probably amused to find two Chinese guys obviously relishing traditional Indian foods like dosai and idly.

And so we got talking and… surprise, surprise… suddenly her husband mentioned trans fats!

We were actually talking about the prata at the restaurant being microwaved (a minus point for Saravanna Bhavan!) when the husband said something about trans fats. Perhaps he misunderstood that microwaving produces trans fats, but no matter, all of us ought to avoid both anyway.

I asked why he was concerned about trans fats. He said he was “old” – actually he looked only late 50s or early 60s at most – and he needed to watch his health. Good for him.

And I am much encouraged that I had met a total stranger who shared similar concerns. What’s the likelihood of that happenning. There must be a reason for our chance meeting. The word for it is serendipity.

Anyway, our convesation drifted to the subject of coffee. And then trans fats came up again. I had totally forgotten all about it, but the “local” coffee that I enjoy is usually roasted with sugar and margarine! Argh!

This upsets me. It not only shows how pervalent trans fats are, but also how well hidden they are.

If someone like me, who makes effort to avoid consuming trans fats, still ends up taking it without realising, what about others?

Do my fellow citizens deserve to be poisoned just because they are not extra careful? More and more, I am beginning to feel that a ban on trans fats is a must.

Labelling alone won’t do. Unless my cup of kopi-O-kosong or kopi-O sui tai comes with a Nutrition Facts Label.


  1. Noooooo! Not my kopi!

    How to avoid this? Before your post I was actually interested in finding out where Singapore kopitiam coffee usually comes from. I suspect Indonesia mostly, but I also wanted to know where the roasting and grinding is done, and (perhaps I’m a little too nosey here) who their suppliers are and if they are the same suppliers who ship Indonesian coffee to the US. Anyway, that’s another topic, that was inspired by someone who asked me how big Fair Trade is in Singapore. (Not very big, I think!)

    It would be great to see who’s roasting the coffee beans in Singapore (if it is done in Singapore) and if they can omit the margarine!

  2. I love my coffee. I was kind of un-nerved by this post. But before anyone swears off coffee, I would like to say that the use of margarine appears to be a Malayan practice.

    This seems to be suggested by Wikipedia entry on both Hainanese and White coffees.

    But margarine is not mentioned in the gerneal entry on coffee roasting. This seems to agree with some random search I did on the internet such as this entry on the skillet method at Sweet Maria’s Home Coffe Roasting Supplies.

    Could someone back me up on this?

  3. Wah, YCK seems determined to get to the root of this matter…. so much research done.

    No sure how young both YCK and Singaporecityzen are, but those like me who are older – I am 51 – would have ever come across coffee being roasted, for example, in backlanes behind coffee shops. And that’s how we know that they roast with margarine.

    Of course they don’t do this anymore. Probably banned (the roasting in backlanes, not the adding of marrgarine).

  4. Just trying to get to the bottom of things. Coffee shop coffee is definitly better than all the instant ones I have tried so far. It would be sad to have to give them up. Couldn’t some R&D be done to replace the magarine? Afterall, they got trans fat out of Oreo.

    You guessed right, I have not seen coffee roasting live. Seen in in a documentary once though. I am still a student at NUS, so you could guess my age.

  5. No need R&D lah! Just roast with butter! It will taste better too.

    Unfortunately, too many people in high places are still stuck with the idea that butter is harmful, even though it did no harm for thousands of years – and continues to do no harm to the French and others who take lots of butter.

    All the experts can do is come up with a phrase and call this the “French Paradox”.

    Also, butter costs more…

    I am still drinking the coffee. I fgure each cup is not made from that much coffee powder, so hopefully the trans fat level will be very very low.

    It’s one of those many compromises I make in order to “enjoy” modern city life.

    Otherwise, if want to avoid all possible health hazards, have to go live like a hermit in the middle of nowhere.

    Even then cannot totally avoid. That’s how screwed up this world has become.

    Yes, instant coffee most probably worse. So is decafeinated coffee.

    Carrefour has organic coffee not too costly. But does not taste as shiok as local coffee shop type.

  6. Butter. It may work if people don’t mind paying more.

    Thanks for the suggestion of organic coffee from Carrefour. I may try it one day. Still I don’t think it will be as good.

  7. I love to eat coffee beans. They are almost a snack food for me. No chocolate just the bean. Maybe a shot glass full a day. Since my coffee isn’t brewed, am I getting even more fat than you all. Good grief,

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