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Caffeine 'traffic light' detects coffee jitter levels

A light-up caffeine detection kit lets you tell the difference between a weak cup of joe and a mug of coffee that will make a spoon stand up.

Caffeine detector
Red means more jitter-inducing caffeine. UNIST

When you stare into the inky depths of a cup of coffee, you see a mystery. Just how much caffeine is lurking in there? A team of scientists has developed a way to find the answer with Caffeine Orange, a caffeine detection kit.

Caffeine levels are detected using a lab-on-a-disc. The user places a sample of the coffee into a chamber on the disc and spins it. This extracts the caffeine in the liquid and allows for measuring it.

To simplify things for the average consumer, the researchers also developed a method for using a green laser pointer to translate the lab-on-a-disc results into a traffic-light style visual cue. If the light shows up red, it means there's a very high concentration of caffeine. Yellow is moderate and green indicates a low level of caffeine.

"Applying lab-on-a-disc technology to real life application with the novel caffeine sensor is very meaningful," said researcher Yoon-Kyoung Cho from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in Korea.

The detection kit can handle more than just coffee, it also works for tea, soda, and energy drinks. This sort of technology could help people regulate their caffeine intake. You could also verify if that cup of coffee really is decaf. On the flip side, it could help you seek out the highest-octane coffee available to help you make it through the morning.