Coffee Nutrition 101

Ahhhh, there’s nothing like a fresh cup of coffee to wake up with or to provide that extra boost of energy during the day.  But do you ever wonder about coffee’s impact on your health?  Coffee has been consumed for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.  The use of coffee increased with the spread of Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries.  In Europe, Coffee was first considered a man’s drink, while coffee drinking by women was considered taboo.  Perhaps these early Europeans knew about the negative effects of coffee on women’s fertility?  The health effects of coffee have been debated for centuries, but today we have more information about coffee than ever.

With that, I’ll save the good news for last and start with a few of coffee’s negative health effects:

  • There is some evidence that regular consumption of coffee may cause miscarriages or inhibit a baby’s development in the womb.
  • Moderate to high consumption of coffee (more than 2-3 cups per day) inhibits calcium and iron absorption.  Both nutrients are especially important for women’s health; however, men need to be aware of calcium deficiencies as well.
  • If consumed while stressed, the caffeine in coffee increases the body’s production of adrenaline, and therefore further increases stress levels.
  • Generally, coffee consumption does not increase blood pressure; however, it can increase blood pressure levels in those who already have high blood pressure.
  • If you are trying to gain weight, coffee consumption will make it more difficult .  Coffee speeds up metabolism and can interfere with muscle recuperation.  Efficient muscle recuperation and function depend on proper calcium absorption.
  • Caffeine dependency occurs after only a few days of regular consumption.
  • Finally, unfiltered coffee can raise LDL (usually considered bad) and overall cholesterol levels. Filtered coffee, however, has minimal effects on cholesterol levels.

Despite all the potential negatives, take heart coffee lovers; low or moderate consumption of coffee has several positive health effects.

  • For one, coffee consumption holds promise for preventing type 2 diabetes in men and women.
  • Regular coffee consumption might also aid in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Coffee, like most plant-based foods and beverages, contains anti-oxidants that may help prevent some forms of cancer, such as colorectal cancer.
  • The caffeine in coffee speeds up the body’s metabolism, which can help with weight loss when coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Lastly, I won’t fail to mention coffee’s most beloved and well-known benefits: the caffeine in coffee speeds up mental and physical reaction times and temporarily reduces feelings of sleepiness. How would many of us start the day, finish that term paper, or get through that Monday shift at work without a cup (or two) of coffee?!

Like all drugs, the caffeine in coffee has positive and negative side-effects.  You have to decide if the good effects outweigh the bad.  And of course, taste and enjoyment are important considerations as well!  Overall, the key, as with so many other things in life, is moderation.  If you drink coffee, it seems wise not to drink more than 1-3 cups (6 oz) per day.  Also, try to stick to organic and fair trade certified beans.  Non-organic coffee is one of the most pesticide ridden crops in the world.  The good news, however, is that the percentage of organic crops is growing.  Coffee production can also benefit local economies when growers and workers are guaranteed a fair wage.  So, if you love coffee, keep enjoying it, but sip it slowly.  Go for a short, rather than a venti cup of coffee next time you’re at Starbucks (even better, go for a small rather than a large cup at your local coffee shop), and savor the flavor!

Originally posted 2011-06-21 18:34:00.

A Health Lover's Guide to Coffee

health-benefits-coffee

A Health Lover’s Guide to Coffee

83% of Americans drink coffee; we drink more coffee than people from any other country. Why? Because it’s a dangerous concoction of delicious and addictive substances. Nothing smells better than a cup of freshly brewed coffee — except the aroma of organic, uncured bacon. Anyway… back to coffee.

Origin

Legend has it that coffee was discovered by the 9th century Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi. Kaldi supposedly noticed that his goats would act odd (hyper) after eating the coffee plant. Nothing was written about Kaldi discovering coffee until the late 1600s, so it probably isn’t true. The first documented coffee brew was by Sufi monks in Yemen in the mid-1400s. Middle Eastern/East African trade has led to many unbelievable benefits to world society, but in my opinion, none of them come close to the discovery of coffee.

Coffee in America

Coffee came to America during early Colonial trade and gained a lot of popularity following the Boston Tea Party. American’s found the best of both worlds: a delicious morning beverage with the added benefit of not relying on Britain to get it. Like most things brought to America, coffee has become ingrained into our culture (think Pokémon and techno music… only more tasty). Coffee has received a bad reputation for supposed “unhealthy effects.” Bollocks, I say! Coffee, when brought up with care and treated in the proper way, can actually have extensive health benefits.

Recovery

Caffeine has been shown to decrease post-workout muscle soreness and speed recovery almost half as fast when compared to a placebo! Caffeinated athletes not only performed better in a trial to exhaustion, they were also ready for competition 48 percent fast than those who somehow managed to avoid the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Cholesterol

Coffee is very high in antioxidants that accomplish many wonderful things in your body. Coffee consumption has been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease inflammation in arteries which can lead to heart disease. One study showed that doubling your coffee intake can lead to an 8 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol (an extreme measure, but good to know its healing effects).

Reproductive Health

According to the National Cancer Institute, coffee consumption has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer in men. Likewise, the scientific journal Caner Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that coffee consumption in women can lower their risk of endometrial cancer up to 25 percent. An extremely high amount of coffee consumption was sued for these studies (6 and 4 cups per day respectively), but often times medical studies need to go an extreme to rule out other variables. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed 6 cups of coffee in a day; however I’m positive my two per day is enough to reap this beneficial effect.

Brain Health

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease stated in 2009 that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that the mere smell of coffee reduced stress associated with sleep deprivation in rats. So if you need to wake up extra early, coffee not only tastes, it balances your hormones!

Coffee Tips

  • Always buy organic. Coffee beans are a fruit, so they are treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and who knows whatever else. Buying certified organic coffee from a reputable source will keep your coffee free of toxins.
  • Prepare with care. Most commercial coffee pots brew coffee with water that is too hot. This heat can kill some of the beneficial antioxidants and leave your coffee tasting burnt. About 190 degrees is the perfect temperature is a French press or with a simple cup-and-filter.
  • Prepare it fresh. Good coffee should have a “roasted on” label so you know when it was roasted. Coffee is at its best three to 10 days after roasting. “To refrigerate or not refrigerate?” Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Just drink it within two weeks and you won’t have to worry about it!

Sources:

USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/04/09/coffee-mania/2069335/
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/coffee-health-benefits_b_2962490.html
Charles Poliquin:
http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/947/Ten_Benefits_of_Coffee_for_Health_Performance_Body.aspx

Photo  by @Doug88888

Originally posted 2013-11-04 06:21:03.

Learn to brew the perfect pour over cup of coffee!

coffeedripperOk, ok, I might sound like a coffee snob, but what can I say, I love coffee!  Besides, learning the nuisances and flavors of the food you love doesn’t make you a snob does it? In my opinion, the more you learn about the flavors and descriptions of a particular food, the more you can enjoy it.  This is one of the beautiful things about language and human culture; they’re gifts God has given us to enjoy life.  Without qualifying my praise of pour over coffee further, read on to learn the ins and outs of pour over coffee and how to brew the perfect cup.

Pour over coffee has been around for a long time, it’s essentially what an automatic drip coffee maker does.  The beauty of using a manual pour over is that it brings out the full spectrum of delicious flavors contained in whatever type of coffee you are brewing.  It accomplishes that by achieveing the best possible extraction of the coffee beans.  Pour over brewing also provides the flexibility (for advanced coffee brewers who are so interested) to experiment with adjusting water temperatures and coffee grind coarseness to achieve the perfect brew for a particular type of coffee bean.  To begin:

First you’ll need a pour over device, such as the Hario 60 glass brewer depicted to the right.  Hario’s brewer is particular good because it allows an even and fast extraction of the coffee grounds, which helps bring out the sweet notes of the coffee without extracting too many of the bitter flavors.

After you have a dripper, start the brewing process by getting your water boiling (the ideal water temperature is about 200° F or just under boiling).  You’ll need about 12 oz of water for an 80z cup of coffee.

After boiling the water, put the filter in the funnel and rinse it with hot water. This helps the water flow more smoothly thru the dripper once you begin the pour.  Rinsing also washes away any remaining paper residue flavor and preheats the cone.

Next grind your beans to a medium grind.  It’s best to use a burr grinder, as this will ensure the smoothest and best tasting extraction of coffee.  A blade-style grinder can result in an uneven grind, with some beans ground to small (causing increased bitterness) and some too coarsely (resulting in weak flavor).  For one 8 oz cup of coffee, you’ll need about 1.5 – 3 tbsps of beans.

After you add your grounds to the pour over cone, pour just enough water onto the grounds to wet them, then let them rest and “bloom” for 30-45 seconds.   The blooming process is critical for achieving the best possible extraction of flavor.  It’s called “blooming” because when freshly roasted beans are used, pouring hot water over them will cause a release of CO2, which lifts the grinds and make them look like they’re blooming.  It’s importnat to let all the gas escape before pouring the rest of the water over the grinds, as the escaping gas will actually keep the water off of the grinds and prohibit optimum flavor extraction.  Once the coffee grinds have bloomed and collapsed (having released all the CO2), then the hot water can surround the entire surface area of the grinds and extract all those good flavors and oils.  If you don’t use freshly roasted and ground coffee, you’ll notice that you won’t be able to achieve the blooming effect; all the CO2 has already escaped the roasted beans.

Avoid beans that aren’t freshly roasted.  They go stale and don’t taste nearly as good as beans that were roasted within the last three weeks (not to mention you won’t get the cool blooming effect).

After you’ve let the coffee bloom, pour the remaining 12 oz of hot water over your grinds, circling the edges of the pour over funnel.  You may have to let the water drain then pour again.

Enjoy!

To see how it’s done, watch this video:

Originally posted 2013-06-11 23:31:11.