“No! Absolutely not – and shame on you for even suggesting such a thing!”</br></br>Well, that’s the knee-jerk response for the 63% of Americans who drink coffee, but according to <a title="New York Times" href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/caffeinated-a-history-of-our-favorite-stimulant/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0" target="_blank">a new book by Murray Carpenter</a>, the truth is that we really don’t know.</br></br>Based on the many excerpts available, it’s clear that Mr. Carpenter’s research for the book left few beans unturned in his quest for coffee knowledge. Even so, a lack of research, vagaries in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reporting/labeling requirements and secrecy in the beverage industry act to create a caffeinated haze around the true effects of the drug.</br></br><strong>How much caffeine is “too much” caffeine?</strong></br></br>No one knows. Mr. Carpenter quotes doctors who refer to “moderate use” (between 300 and 400 milligrams), but admits many factors exist among individuals that make it impossible to determine whether this is a safe, adequate or excessive amount.</br></br>And, it’s not going to be easy for you to find out on your own, because the FDA doesn’t require anyone to tell you how much caffeine they’re selling you, which is kind of crazy when you think about it.</br></br>But, perhaps even more alarming than them not telling you is that …</br></br><strong>[Insert famous coffee brand] doesn’t really <em>know</em> how much caffeine they’re serving. </strong></br></br>An important takeaway: Your favorite coffee shop has no idea how much caffeine you’re getting in a cup of coffee, no matter what they say.</br></br>They can guess – and a lot of coffee chains do – but Mr. Carpenter’s research (using real scientists, no less!) revealed that not even the really big brands know how much caffeine is in their products. Some tests showed that there could be <a title="Mother Jones" href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/caffeine-murray-carpenter-energy-drink-keurig-cup-coffee" target="_blank">as much as a twofold difference</a> in servings of the same size and type of coffee.</br></br><strong>So, what should you do if you really want to control your caffeine intake?</strong></br></br>There are two steps: 1) Choose a homebrew coffee brand that elects to tell you how much caffeine is in their product, and 2) make it yourself at home with a <a title="Coffee Makers" href="http://www.atgstores.com/coffee-makers_3255.html?linkloc=newSearchRedirect" target="_blank">coffee maker</a>. Even then, you may face some fluctuation due to variations in grounds measurement, brew times, filtration and other factors, but it’ll be better than taking the word of a stranger.</br></br>Good luck with calculating your caffeine intake!