Making Pure Caffeine At Home

If you’ve ever thought about extracting caffeine from coffee beans, [Ben] is the guy for you. The last time we ran into him, he had already produced a few aerogel monoliths with a few chemicals, pipe fittings, and some CO2. We’re guessing he needed another use for his supercritical drying chamber, so after looking over a few patents, he decided to make pure caffeine in his garage.

The extraction began with green coffee beans inside the drying chamber. Liquid CO2 is pumped in and heated to the supercritical point. After a few hours, the caffeine will have been extracted from the beans and can be drained from the chamber. Right now, the process results in an inky goo that contains caffeine. [Ben] refined this a little further with Methylene Chloride, a process he’ll document in a future video.

Of course it goes without saying that this build is a little bit on the dangerous side. We’re confident in [Ben]’s abilities to know what he’s doing, but we’re not going to endorse this for every joker on the Internet. Also, two spoonfuls of caffeine will kill you, so try not to screw around with that either.


36 thoughts on “Making Pure Caffeine At Home

    1. I get that most people on this site are “scientists” but that quote i believe was less of a fact and more of a way to tell people not to eat this, as in: two drops of cyanide will kill you vs 100-200 mg is the lethal dose of cyanide. most people just don’t have something to compare it to, or know how big 100 mg is.

  1. I’m intrigued to see how he deals with the volatility of DCM in his next video. Interesting, reminds me of a similar experiment at university where we extracted caffeine from tea bags.

  2. “Hmm, don’t know what this black material is so I’ll just drink it”


    I mean, brilliant job on the patent research and constructing the chamber but that’s just, I don’t know.

    1. I have two theories about the black color. 1) it was probably just gunk from the inside of the pipe… yum. or 2) the beans that were in direct contact with the pipe simply burned past that rich brown we all know and love, leaving the rest of the beans green.

      1. I’m concerned over the use of dichloromethane in food production. We use it in the labs as a solvent and believe me it could quite easily strip the lining of your stomach if consumed in high amounts, but hopefully he will introduce an efficient means of extraction of the solvent. well all should be explained in the next installment.

    1. Well, DCM is volatile enough that if you dry it off, you won’t hardly have anywhere near a toxic dose on the caffeine….you’d probably get more from being near the vapors than you would from ingesting something you made with that caffeine. Furthermore, they used to decaffeinate coffee with DCM in bulk back in the day until they figured out supercritical CO2 extraction.

      Although, a bit of safety advice on handling DCM would probably deter a lot of people from using it in this build: it actually hydrolyzes and forms HCl with the water in your skin…so if you get it on you, there is a possibility you might get a mild to moderate chemical burn from the hydrochloric acid. Although if the area you are in is warm enough, it might evaporate before it gets the chance to react.

  3. I have seen anhydrous caffeine in head shops locally. I suspect people “smoke” it. Note: it is anhydrous, so if you snort it, it will soak up water in your sinuses and make you unhappy.

    If you really want, you can purchase “Food Grade” or “USP” caffeine, but make sure you get it from a reputable source.

    Do NOT purchase “Lab Grade” or “Reagent Grade” chemicals — they may or may not have few impurities, but only “Food Grade” and “USP” are certified not to have impurities that will kill you.

    Anhydrous caffiene is a fluffy powder, so it’s tricky to measure out by volume. A typical “dose” of caffeine in a cola is 30-50 mg, and in a cup of coffee, 100 mg. This is a very very small volume, well under 1/8 teaspoon.

    LD50 is very high — BUT! — If you take 1 – 2 grams of caffeine, you almost certainly will not be happy about it, and might have to go to the hospital.

    Remember there’s an easy way to measure out small quantities precisely — dilute it by putting, say, 1 gram of caffeine in 20 grams of sugar, and stirring well.

    When food scientists talk about “bitterness,” they use caffeine as a reference. Unless you use very, very small quantities, the bitterness is quite detectable. Thus, putting caffeine on scrambled eggs is not Good Eats. Put it in orange juice, instead, where the bitterness is acceptable. I’ve made capsules by buying caps and a capping device at a health food store, but again, knowing exactly how much is in the capsule is tricky. A large capsule can contain anywhere from 200 to 600 mg, which is a whole lot.

    1. Smoking caffeine – You Do Not Want To Do This! A couple of decades ago an acquaintance of mine and his druggy friends decided to see what it would be like, drawing the analogy to chewing coca leaves vs. using powder cocaine vs. smoking crack. So they crunched up some caffeine pills and smoked them. Everything bad that caffeine does to you happens pretty much at once – jitters, nausea, headaches, tachycardia – and it was Not Fun. (And no, this really was somebody else and not me :-) (And he was somebody sufficiently adventurous about his drug consumption that I’d trust his rating of “this was not fun” to be more reliable than “this was fun, you should try it!”)

    1. seriously? i can’t think of anything more worthless to synthesise than what you’re mentioning… i’d rather see the deacetylation of melatonin, then the adduction of diisopropanol. Far more interesting i find.

  4. Damn Afterm3th, you just triggered a lot of old memories of a much happier, simpler time! I had all but forgotten that we were able to live our lives without everything being regulated for us, inspite of us……Bring back P2P!

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