A New Trend In Caffeine Fixes

claudia cheffs | Staff Photographer For college students in need of a boost of energy, coffee has provided the means, but now a new trend may be on its way...

claudia cheffs | Staff Photographer
For college students in need of a boost of energy, coffee has provided the means, but now a new trend may be on its way...

For millions of Americans, starting the morning off right means grabbing a hot cup of coffee before going about their daily duties. Now, coffee is no longer just a morning wake-up drink and is commonly drunk throughout the afternoons, evenings and nights.

It is no wonder there seems to be coffee houses at every corner, whether it be a Starbucks, Coffee Bean or It’s A Grind, to name a few.

But what if one could avoid the trip, the lines and the piling of cups in your car or room and still get your dose of caffeine? And maybe even lose weight, too?

David Edwards, a biomedical engineering professor from Harvard University recently developed a product called Le Whif that is making such things possible. About the size of a lipstick tube, Le Whif is a like an inhaler, except instead of its contents being filled with medicine, it’s filled with tiny particles of coffee, just larger than ten microns. Simply pop the cap open, place the tube in your mouth, and breathe in. Yes, breathe in.

Through particle engineering, the idea is to take natural food and break it down until it’s airborne.

Many may worry that the product can contaminate the lungs. However, the official Le Whif website explains that when breathed in, the force of gravity quickly pulls the particles down into your mouth, preventing the particles from entering the lungs.

In addition, the coffee particles are too large to enter a person’s lungs. It is Edwards’ idea of eating and drinking by breathing.

“Over the centuries we’ve been eating smaller and smaller quantities at shorter and shorter intervals,” Edwards said in an interview. “It seemed to us that eating was tending toward breathing, so, with a mix of culinary art and aerosol science, we’ve helped move eating habits to their logical conclusion. We call it whiffing.”

What’s more, Le Whif not only comes in coffee, but chocolate as well. Each tube of Le Whif has about 300 milligrams, which allows for 8-9 gentle puffs and according to the official Le Whif Web site. One puff alone is less than one calorie for either coffee or chocolate.

In terms of coffee, there is about as much caffeine in one tube as there is in a light espresso drink, according to the Web site.

Unlike eating a bar in which the majority of it simply “passes through your mouth without contacting your taste buds,” as explained by the official Web site, every particle puffed through Le Whif lands on your mouth and at the tip of your throat, intensifying the flavor.

Not only is it small and compact, it can save you a couple hundred of calories when compared to similar chocolate- or coffee-based drinks. On top of that, the tube is made up of biogradable material and can be disposed of without the worry of harming the environment, unlike paper cups. According to the Environmental Defense Fund – a national non-profit organization that partners with governments and businesses in search of innovative solutions to the current environmental problems – reported that nearly 20 million trees are chopped down each year in order to manufacture paper cups. Despite the fact the cups are made out of paper, Lori Brown, staff writer of Earth 911 – a Web site dedicated to reporting the environmental issues of the day – writes in an article concerning Starbucks cups that they are virtually un-recyclable because of a plastic coating around the cup “used to make them impermeable.” Le Whif avoids the use of a cup altogether.

Although a tube of Le Whif is a more environmentally conscious than a paper cup, there are features that a steaming hot cup of joe has to offer that Le Whif may not.

For second-year international studies major Valerie Keeranan, it is “the scent that wakes [her] up in the morning.” Her coffee machine is timed to start brewing at 8:00 a.m. sharp and although she admits, “I would try Le Whif,” she also confesses that she probably would not stop drinking coffee because of the taste.

Second-year literary journalism major Daria Khong could not agree more, although she only drinks a lot of coffee around final exams.

“I’m curious to try it now, but I think I’d still drink coffee out of a cup because I’d want to drink it, especially for the taste,” Khong said.

Released this past March, only time can tell whether coffee Le Whif will catch on.