Ahh, the humble coffee bean. Never has a more loved, complex, controversial, and historical ingredient.
Growing up, I didn't like coffee. It didn't interest me, and I didn't understand why so many people enjoyed the bitter black water.
But then I started drinking coffee. Why not? Everyone was doing it, and so I jumped on the bandwagon.
If only I knew where it would take me.
And then I drank some more coffee. And some more. Finally, I fell in love. This love turned to obsession, and I dove into everything about coffee; how it's made, where it came from, and what makes good and lousy coffee terrible. I purchased expensive brew equipment that I didn't know how to use. I went on the hunt for the highest quality beans I could find.
This time, I didn't know how far down the rabbit hole I would go.
As I look back, I trace my path in life to my love affair with the humble bean. And I'm excited to find out where else this tiny seed of fruit will take me into the future.
The Wild Way
At Wild Foods, we are passionate about many food ingredients, not just coffee. Of course, coffee always seems to be smack dab in the middle.
To say the least, coffee is a big deal to us.
And that's why I felt it was time to write an epic guide on coffee.
As you read this guide, there's a fundamental truism that I hope you'll takeaway.
It's this: Bad coffee sucks, don’t drink it. And: Great coffee is Awesome and good for you, the environment and the millions of people around the world that rely on coffee for their livelihoods.
Say "NO" to bad coffee. And a giddy, "yes please," to good coffee.
Part of our mission at Wild Foods is sharing our passion for the wonderful gifts of nature, like coffee, as well as the importance of quality in growing, processing and transporting ingredients.
Coffee is a prime example of this mission. Drinking great coffee can take you around the world. It connects people and ideas (one of its great contributions to human society). Coffee makes you feel good and brings you back to the moment.
It’s a celebration of many things; ingredients, nature, science, flavor, biology.
And with the plethora of ways you can enjoy coffee, there’s a concoction for everyone. Enjoy it hot, cold, with cream, milk, sweetener or black, or our favorite, with butter. (These are still only a few of the many ways you can enjoy coffee.)
We are going to cover as many aspects of coffee in this guide, from bean to cup and everything in between. But before we get to all that, I want to reiterate our beliefs about coffee one more time: drink great coffee and shun the rest.
Respect the coffee bean--how it’s made, roasted and grown--and most important of all, make sure you take your time and enjoy your brew!
My last bit of advice on coffee is this: embrace the learning experience that is coffee. Even the worst cup of coffee has a story to tell. Learn from each cup and every bean.
A Short Coffee History
There is a legend surrounding the origin of coffee.
It goes something like this: A goat herder in Ethiopia named Kaldi noticed that some of his goats were acting erratic after eating berries from a nearby bush. After trying a berry, he began dancing around with his goats, excited by the apparent caffeine rush. Kaldi soon turned his newfound cherry-eating into a daily ritual.
A local monk noticed Kaldi's new habit and tried some of the berries himself. After feeling the effects, he thought of boiling the berries to make a drink that monks could sip during long meditations and prayers. News quickly spread to neighboring monasteries, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Before coffee was a drink, coffee beans were crushed and rolled into balls of animal fat and eaten by nomadic warriors in Ethiopia. There is debate among historians on the exact date of coffee cultivation. The first recorded mention of coffee was by a philosopher and astronomer named Rhazes (850-922 A.D.), who referred to coffee as “bunchum” and promoted its medicinal use when he said, "bunchum is hot and dry and very good for the stomach.” Soon after, Europeans traveling to the Middle East during the sixteenth century recorded coffee in travel journals.
Due to the prohibition of alcohol in Islamic countries, coffee has become a popular substitute, especially in Turkey. Most coffee beans during the sixteenth century came from Yemen. As the Ottoman Empire grew throughout the Middle Ages, coffee continued to grow in popularity to the point that it was considered as important as bread in everyday Islamic life. Even a Turkish law passed that allowed a wife to divorce her husband if he refused her coffee.
As coffee’s popularity grew, the Arab world became protective of the crop, forbidding foreigners from visiting coffee farms and allowing beans to be exported only after they were boiled to destroy any germinating potential. Eventually, in the early 1600s, Dutch spies were able to smuggle out a coffee plant, which finally brought coffee to the colonies in Java.
As coffee spread throughout Europe, it became so popular that people started meeting to drink it together, which led to the creation of the coffee house. Coffee houses became known as “schools of the cultured,” where patrons played games, discussed ideas and played music. The first English coffee house was opened in 1650 in Oxford, England.
During the same time, many doctors became the first champions of coffee in England, praising the liquid for its health benefits. The public perception of coffee, and coffeehouses, became a public meeting place that was the counterpoint to the most popular social place of the time, the tavern. Some even viewed coffee as a solution to the problem of public drunkenness.
In 18th century, coffeehouses became known as "penny universities" because patrons were charged a penny for a cup of coffee and entry. Once inside, patrons had access to other patrons, games, books and news. Coffee houses became a place for spreading news and ideas, and were open to any individual regardless of social or economic class.
Coffee house topics of discussion included politics, gossip, business ideas, current events and debate. In fact, historians often associate the Age of Enlightenment with the widespread popularity of coffeehouses in English society.
Coffee Becomes a Target
But not all was always peachy keen for the coffee bean. Many a revolution can be traced back to coffee house gatherings where ideas spread and convictions hardened into action. The connection between the coffee house and the spread of ideas made coffee a risk to political and religious establishments.
This made coffee a target.
A coffee prohibition in Turkey resulted in any second-time offender being sewn up in a leather bag and thrown into the river. In other parts of the Arab world, coffee was suppressed by authorities in an effort to stifle it's spread, although these bans were usually short lived. Like alcohol, coffee served too powerful a tonic to ban without stirring public unrest.
Finally, in the early 1700s, coffee growing spread rapidly throughout the tropics, becoming a perfect crop (addicting and grown cheaply) for the European empires to trade.
Coffee In America
The first license to sell coffee in the American colonies was issued in 1670 to an individual in Boston. It wasn't long before the big London coffeehouses established coffee houses in America. After the Boston Tea Party of 1765, drinking coffee, which could be imported directly from French and Dutch colonies, became an act of patriotism. By choosing coffee over the British taxed, and favorite, tea, Americans found a way to circumvent paying unjust taxes. This helped fuel coffee's popularity in American culture and may be why coffee is a more popular drink than tea nowadays.
Coffee still had its ups and downs in America, initially too expensive for most. But coffee's popularity grew when the taverns near popular ports started buying beans. It wasn't until the advent of steam-powered ships and advancements in roasting and packaging—which helped improve the quality and flavor of coffee while reducing cost—that coffee became accessible to the lower classes.
Then World War 2 happened. Companies started marketing cheap robusta beans as "instant coffee" in conjunction with prompting coffee as a drink for convenience rather than enjoyment. Unfortunately, these campaigns worked, and the American public developed the habit and perception that coffee should be cheap, fast, and not flavorful. Because these instant coffees were barely drinkable without adding more sugar and cream, Americans got used to drinking coffee this way.
The instant coffee revolution is known as the first of three “Waves” of coffee. The coffee waves are:
First Wave: Mass-produced coffee meant to reach as many people as possible. Instant coffee. Not fresh. Cheap beans. No flavor.
Second Wave: Promotion of “specialty coffee,” in which consumers become more interested in the coffee, paying special attention to the roast, while viewing coffee as an enjoyable experience. Starbucks, and the growth of other independent coffee shops around the country, are largely attributed to having the most influence on this wave. Espresso was a big part of this wave, which included flavored espresso beverages popularized by Starbucks that, nowadays, seem to be more of a “coffee-flavored” drink than anything.
Third Wave: The current wave of coffee is the wave we are in now (and one we embrace here at Wild Foods): An interest to know everything there is to know about coffee, from bean to cup. And the importance on quality.
The newest wave of coffee is back-to-basics; celebrating quality coffee, how it's produced, and where it's from, and often enjoyed straight—espresso, cold brew, black, hot—or in simple concoctions—latte, macchiato, cappuccino, Americano—all of which allow you to experience more of the coffee itself.
Compare this to the second wave in which coffee was "masked" with more elaborate flavorings and mixes (undoubtedly a means to appeal to the milder American coffee palate).
We are all about the Third Wave of coffee here at Wild Foods.
By focusing on the quality of the coffee beans themselves, the entire chain of supply is improved down to the coffee plant itself. Farmers get better wages for their crops, which allows them to invest in even better yields. Better crops result in better working conditions, laborers' pay, and a better local environment. Supporting better crops ensures a more sustainable and fair trade, import, and export system.
When farmers are paid a fair wage for their crops, they are less likely to fall into debt peonage in which exporters batter down prices while holding the farmers a "hostage" due to farmers having no alternatives.
Think of this anytime you buy cheap coffee; you are supporting a modern-day form of slavery—maybe even actual slavery in some cases—while lining the pockets of those who thrive by taking advantage of others and the environment.
Of course, the quality of coffee isn't merely a moral argument. It's also a matter of taste. Quality coffee tastes better.
In some cases, good coffee isn't in the same realm as cheap coffee; it's like comparing apples to oranges. Combine this with the moldy coffee issue, which is a health implication, and you have a strong case for quality coffee.
*Personally, this is the same way I feel about cheap, factory farmed meat. I won’t support it. I won’t eat it. I can hardly even look at it. And that is as much a moral stance as it is a health and palate decision.
As I said in the introduction, if there’s at least one thing you take away from this guide it is this: BUY GREAT COFFEE AND SHUN THE REST!
“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”
The word “coffee” is thought to be derived from the word “Qahwah,” Arabic for the coffee drink. Scholars tend to agree that the word found its way into European languages through the Italian word “caffe” derived from the Turkish pronunciation “kahveh.”
How the world sasys coffee:
- English: coffee
- French: cafè
- German: kaffee
- Dutch: koffie
- Danish: kaffe
- Polish: kawa
- Finnish: kahvi
- Croatian: kafa
- Servian: kava
- Russian: kophe
- Swedish: kaffe
- Italian: caffè
- Portugese: cafè
- Turkish: kahuè
- Chinese: kia-fey
- Japanese: kèhi
Types of Coffee
The two main types of coffee plants are the species arabica and robusta. While over a hundred species of the Coffea plant, these two represent the bulk of the world’s coffee market.
As a general rule, you want arabica. Arabica is considered the better-tasting coffee plant and accounts for the bulk of the specialty coffee industry. Arabica usually contains 60% or more coffee oils and double the amount of sugar compared to robusta, contributing to a better brew.
When it comes to the quality of coffee, how it is grown and processed play a paramount role in the final product. Because arabica is a more fickle plant and requires more growing attention than robusta—e.g., arabica does not tolerate frost, low altitude climates and is susceptible to pests—most arabicas are grown with care, resulting in an overall better product.
Because robusta is cheaper to grow, it became the bean of choice for the mass-produced, “technified” coffee you find on supermarket shelves. Conversely, higher quality coffees known as “specialty coffee,” often organic and single-origin and sold as whole beans, are almost always 100% arabica beans.
A Few Differences Between Arabica And Robusta:
- Arabica is generally better tasting and sweeter than robusta, including more than double the amount of sugar content and up to 60% more coffee oil.
- Arabica contains about half the amount of caffeine. Since caffeine is bitter, this contributes to why arabica generally tastes better than robusta.
- Arabica is less tolerant to growing conditions--pests, altitude, soil--than robusta.
- Robusta beans are typically half the price of arabica.
- Arabica beans are typically oval while robusta are typically circular.
Of course, not all robusta is “bad” coffee. Some robusta beans are prized for espresso due to the thick crema they produce, which is why you find robusta often in espresso blends. Our advice is to stick with 100% arabica unless you know what you are looking for in a robusta.
Coffee Arabica and the Coffee Cherry
Coffea Arabica is the the species of coffea plant responsible for about 70% of the world’s coffee production. Arabica is more a shrub than a tree, and while it can grow taller than 10 feet, it is usually trimmed down to allow pickers better access to cherries.
The coffee cherry is said to taste like a combination of watermelon and hibiscus. Unlike actual cherries, coffee cherries have little flesh between the outer skin and the coffee seeds inside, which are not edible until roasted. So be careful should you find yourself biting into a coffee cherry.
Coffee cherries start out green then turn cranberry red when they are ready for harvest. The main coffee harvest usually takes place once a year and is done by hand—in the case of quality coffee that is. It takes a single coffee plant an entire year to produce about two pounds of green coffee beans. Remember that the next time you buy your supply of coffee beans! (And don’t ever ever waste good coffee!)
A breakdown of The Coffee Cherry
- Skin (Exocarp) - Tough and bitter.
- Pulp - Fruit beneath the skin. Sweet with a grape-like texture.
- Parchment (Mucilage) - Slimy layer which helps protect the seeds. Removed during processing using dry process, wet process, honey process, pulped natural process.
- Silverskin - Thinner layer of parchment removed during roasting process.
- Seed (beans) - The wonderful piece we are after - Usually consisting of two seed Here's a fun coffee fact you can use to impress friends: Coffee is the seed of the coffee plant and not actually a "bean." A single coffee seed contains two “beans” when separated. A small percentage of coffee cherries contain a single bean called a “peaberry.”
"Coffee is a language in itself."
The best coffee grows at higher altitudes, 3,000 - 6,000 feet above sea level, in a climate with a consistent temperature. Typically, the higher a coffee farm, the slower it develops, which lends to more intense flavor development.
In areas where the climate may be too warm to grow the fickle arabica plant, shade helps reduce the temperature. The shade also provides a natural habitat for birds (with "bird-friendly" certifications showing up on some coffee labels) which act as a natural "pesticide" by eating insects that would otherwise damage the coffee trees. Shade also improves the soil and local ecosystem. Finally, many link "shade-grown" coffee to an improvement in coffee flavor.
Coffee is unique compared to other crops in that it produces new flowers and varying stages of ripe cherries throughout the fruiting season. This results in ripe cherries needing to be harvested throughout the year. For farmers, skilled pickers that can pick ripe cherries among unripe cherries are a valuable asset and worth paying a premium for.
After harvesting, ripe coffee cherries are transported to a mill or moved to the milling process immediately if the farm does its milling. This is the “processing” stage.
The two main methods of processing the cherries are wet/washed and natural/dry. Within each of these main categories, there are many variations.
Beans are shaken and washed through a screen to separate the larger ripe cherries from the unripe cherries. The ripe cherries will sink to the bottom and the unripe, or “bad,” cherries will float to the top.
The next stage is pulping. After sorting, the cherries are pushed through a screen by machine. The leftover pulp is used as fertilizer. Cherries that fail to pulp are not ripe enough and will be sorted by hand and used for lower quality coffees.
Next the coffee will ferment, which removes the rest of the pulp, mucilage and parchment surrounding the green coffee seeds.
The last stage is a final washing.
The wet process method is said to be less susceptible to mold (see article here), as well as better at preserving the flavor of each bean. It is also the most labor intensive compared to the other methods of processing coffee, and thus demands a higher price.
Natural/Dried Process Coffee
The first step of the process is to clean and sort the cherries, removing twigs and leaves before being spread out on patios or tables to dry in the sun. After coffee is spread in a thin layer to dry, it is raked regularly to ensure even drying (a step where mold can be an issue).
The drying process can take up to four weeks and must be carefully monitored. Too dry and the beans will break during hulling. If the beans are not dry enough, they can become moldy.
Natural Process Coffee Fact: Because the beans dry while still in the cherry, natural process coffee develops a unique aroma and flavor—typically fruity with less acidity.
Can I drink it yet?! Nope...
Finally, after the processing stage, coffee beans are stored for a few months to further dry before the final sorting, cupping and grading. The three ways of sorting green coffee beans are:
Machine: A sensor detects imperfect beans and routes them out.
Hand: Sorted by hand. Can you imagine?
Hand on conveyor belt: Sorted by hand on a moving belt. Crazy!
Cupping Coffee (Tasting Coffee)
"What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup."
Coffee is tasted multiple times throughout the growing and processing stages. This is called “cupping.”
To prepare coffee for cupping it is roasted in small batches, immediately ground and then infused in hot water. During the entire process, the cupper is evaluating the look, smell, texture, and finally, taste of the beans.
Cupping Guidelines: How To Cup Coffee
- Use a tempered glass or ceramic glass between 7 and 9 ounces
- Use a ratio of 8.25 grams of coffee per 150 ml of water
- Grind coffee immediately before cupping
- Grind size should be slightly coarser than typical paper filter grind size
- Add exact amount of coffee to each cup and cover
- Use clean filtered water
- Use 200° water for pouring over the coffee
- Pour over grounds to rim of cup, wetting all grounds
- Steep for 3-5 minutes without disturbing
Step #1 - Remove lid and sniff grounds.
Step #2 - After 3-5 minutes, sniff crust before breaking it and stirring 3 times. Lift spoon and sniff dripping grounds.
Step #3 - Skim off grounds, leaving as much liquid in cup as possible.
Step #4 - Hunch close to the cup with a clean spoon. Take a spoonful and “slurp” it into your mouth while inhaling. This slurping helps the aromatics to work while also coating your tongue with as much coffee as possible.
Step #5 - Rinse your spoon in a glass of clean water between each taste.
Coffee Aromas, Flavor And Taste
The aromas of coffee are distinct from flavors, although sometimes they are found together. Example, say you smell cherry when sniffing your brew but don’t taste it when you drink. This is common. On the other hand, for example, you might smell and taste caramel.
Here are some of the most common aromas you can find in coffee:
- Acidity - In terms of coffee taste, this refers to the brightness of coffee and not the pH level of the coffee. Considered pleasant.
- Bitterness - Considered desirable to a certain level.
- Body - Also known as the “mouthfeel.” Body is the weight of the coffee on the mouth.
- Sweetness - Considered the most important aspect of coffee, which can separate good from great coffee.
- Saltiness - Exactly as it sounds.
- Sourness - Too sharp or biting. Considered unpleasant.
- Finish - Refers to flavors and sensations felt after tasting coffee.
Caffeine: The most abused drug on Earth
"Caffeine. The gateway drug."
Caffeine is the beloved, controversial ingredient in coffee that gets plenty of attention. And usually, it's not good attention. Even those who willingly ingest it often think of it as a vice.
The health establishment loves to quote whatever new study that has recently come out, usually cautioning us ignorant caffeine addicts of the perils of our daily addiction.
Why, thank you for saving us from ourselves...
The fact is, caffeine is good for you. And just like fruit can be good for you until you overeat it, it goes for caffeine.
It's all in the dose.
Some drink coffee exclusively for the caffeine kick. Others drink it because they like the flavor; the buzz is a welcome bonus. Most of us drink it for a combination of the two. If you are like me, you drink it for all the reasons: the flavor, the enjoyment, and most definitely, the stimulation.
I suspect the latter reason is why so many are embracing specialty coffees at a premium price.
A Closer Look At Caffeine
Caffeine, in pure form, is a white odorless powder that belongs to a class of organic chemicals called purine alkaloids. This mechanism acts as a pesticide against certain insects and to increase the memory of others (cooolio).
A study (1) titled "Caffeine in Floral Nectar Enhances a Pollinator's Memory of Reward," concluded that honeybees were as much as three times more likely to remember a scent after ingesting coffee. This encouraged the bees to return to the plant to pollinate again, increasing the plant's reproductive success.
It could be argued that caffeine has a similar effect on humans; it keeps us coming back for more!
How much caffeine is too much?
Once caffeine passes through the gastrointestinal tract, it can remain in your body for three to six hours. Upon reaching the liver, caffeine is metabolized into three compounds; paraxanthine, theobromine and theophylline.
Caffeine is considered as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. 10 grams of caffeine a day is considered toxic, but this would take 50-100 cups of coffee to reach.
Caffeine is known to block adenosine, which reduces drowsiness. It also stimulates the autonomic nervous system. The promotion of "alertness" is often associated with combating fatigue and the ability to better focus. These are subjective, different from individual. That said, as a general rule, the more you ingest caffeine, the less you will notice these effects while the less caffeine you ingest, the more you will notice them when ingesting caffeine.
Like I said before, "It depends."
As most know, caffeine can be overdone. Many studies on caffeine consumption have been done, but they seem to be across the board in their conclusions. You can find just as many studies that assert caffeine is “good” for you and plenty that say it's not. (I think there are more that assert it as good, though.)
When it comes to caffeine intake, like most things in life: It depends.
Here is the Wild Foods’ stance on caffeine: It’s hella good for you in the proper amount… and… like any ingestible ingredient, you should cycle it at times to increase your body’s sensitivity.
So, what’s the right amount of caffeine? Again: It depends.
It depends on bodyweight and lifestyle factors such as sleep and diet. The Mayo Clinic recommends less than 500 milligrams (mg) a day.
Let’s look at our caffeine chart to see how many cups of coffee this equals:
- 8oz Brewed Coffee - 92-200mg
- 8oz Decaffeinated Coffee - 2-12mg
- 1oz Espresso, restaurant-style - 47-75mg
- 8oz Instant Coffee (gross) - 27-173mg
- 8oz Specialty Coffee (latte/mocha) 63-175mg
As you can see, since a strong cup of coffee averages 150mg of caffeine, you could consume three-ish cups of coffee a day and stay within the Mayo Clinics’ recommendation of less than 500 mg a day.
As far as intake goes, I think the Mayo Clinic’s recommendation is a safe place for most people.
When I’m hovering around this much caffeine intake for an extended period of time, I start running into issues with fatigue and the feeling that I need to drink coffee to help me wake up each morning.
And I don't like either of these.
This is how I know it’s time to wane my intake down over the next few days to a lower daily baseline. After that, I might even go a day or two with no caffeine. Finally, after this down regulation, I’ll start gradually increasing my daily intake until I find myself reaching too much again. And then the cycle repeats itself.
Of course, you should find what works best for you. As with most things relating to the body, pay close attention to how you feel and always be tweaking and gauging. The more you pay attention to what your body is telling you, the better you’ll understand what works best for you.
The Health Benefits of Coffee
Coffee helps keep you alert and focused
Coffee is caffeine, and like all caffeine-based products, it can help you stay alert and focused. It's been shown to boost cognitive performance and improve mental clarity. Some studies even show that coffee can help protect your brain from age-related decline.
Coffee can help reduce anxiety and stress
Again, coffee is caffeine - like all caffeine-based products, it can help reduce anxiety and stress. It does this by activating your pleasure centers in the brain, which helps to regulate moods and emotions. Additionally, coffee has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects when consumed in moderation.
Coffee can help improve your sleep quality
One of the significant benefits of coffee is that it can help improve your sleep quality. Coffee contains histamine, which has been shown to promote relaxation and improved sleep
Coffee may reduce the cancer risk
Several studies show a correlation between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of various cancers, including liver, breast, and prostate cancer. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, which can help prevent cell damage that can lead to cancer.
Coffee improves mental function
Coffee is also known to improve mental function. Studies have found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant that can improve brain function.
Coffee can help you lose weight
Coffee has been shown to help you lose weight. In one study, overweight women who drank three cups of coffee each day lost more weight than women who didn't drink coffee. Coffee contains caffeine and other ingredients that help you burn calories.
Coffee improves mental clarity
Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that can help improve mental clarity and focus. Caffeine also has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Coffee may help lower blood pressure
According to a study published in the journal Hypertension, coffee consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure in adults by as much as five mmHg systolic and two mmHg diastolic. Another study found that women who drank three cups of coffee per day had a 29 percent lower risk of developing hypertension than those who didn't drink coffee.
Coffee and Parkinson's Disease
Several studies suggest that caffeine, found in coffee and other beverages, can aid in the protection against Parkinson's. In addition, the caffeine in coffee may help control movements in those with Parkinson's, according to one study from 2012. It might support brain health. Although studies have found conflicting results, some studies have suggested coffee might help protect against neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Coffee and depression
Studies show coffee can help lower the risk of depression, mainly if you consume four or more daily cups. Studies have shown that those who drink up to eight cups per day are associated with a 14% lower risk of dying young than those who drink no coffee. Many factors go into this, but drinking coffee has generally been linked with lower risks of colon and liver cancers, respiratory diseases, stroke, and diabetes.
Coffee and diabetes
In 2014, researchers collecting data from more than 48,000 people found that those who increased their coffee intake by at least a cup a day for four years had an 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who did not increase their consumption. It may Be linked to a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. Some studies have suggested that regular coffee consumption may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the long run.
Another study, published in the June 17, 2008, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that women who consumed coffee had lower risks of dying of cancer, heart disease, and other factors, thus contributing to longer lives. The large 37,514-woman cohort concluded that moderate consumption of 2 to 3 cups per day was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of heart disease. Comparing higher intakes of coffee (up to 10 cups per day) to lower ones (1 cup), the higher consumption and the lower consumption (1 cup) resulted in a 30 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes for those who consumed higher amounts of coffee and caffeine, and a 20 percent reduced risk for decaffeinated coffee.
Those who increased coffee consumption above a cup a day for four years had an 11 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes; those who decreased consumption by a cup a day had a 17 percent higher risk of developing the disease. Data from 36 different studies show that those who drank between three and five cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of developing heart disease compared with those who did not or more than five cups a day.
Another meta-analysis, which included studies involving men and women, examined coffee consumption and the risk of cardiovascular diseases (including heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and deaths from those conditions). In addition, a meta-analysis of 21 prospective studies including men and women that examined coffee consumption and deaths from chronic diseases found a relationship between moderate consumption (3 cups/day) of coffee and a 21% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases than those who did not drink.
A more extensive study, including half a million participants, found that 1-3 cups of coffee reduced the risk for all types of chronic liver disease. Other studies have found that the more coffee people drink, the lower the chance they have of dying of chronic liver disease. Another review of 11 observational studies of over 29,000 individuals also found that the more coffee people consumed, the lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's (10). Another study from Harvard of over 50,000 women found a reduced risk of depression with increased caffeinated coffee intake.
For instance, a 40-study review concluded that drinking two to four cups of coffee daily was associated with lower mortality risk, independent of factors such as age, body mass, and alcohol intake (27). Indeed, consumption of four to five eight-ounce cups of coffee per day (or approximately 400 milligrams of caffeine) was associated with decreased mortality rates in several studies conducted worldwide. Lifelong consumption of coffee/caffeine is also associated with preventing cognitive decline and reducing stroke risk.
In terms of brain health, caffeinated coffee boosts alertness and can even enhance memory up to 24 hours after drinking. A 2007 study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology found that drinking coffee long-term can help reduce the risk of developing gout due to its ability to reduce uric acid levels. A 2014 study published in The Journal of Periodontology found that coffee consumption regularly may also be beneficial for your gums, helping to prevent severe infection Periodontitis -- aka gum disease -- can cause, among other health problems, the loss of teeth. According to some studies, coffee may also provide significant health benefits, like lower liver cancer risk, type-2 diabetes, and heart failure.
Another thing to remember is that while some studies suggest coffee can aid in fat loss and weight control, some people may find it has the opposite effect. Evidence from the American Institute of Cancer Research concluded that drinking coffee can lower your risk for endometrial and liver cancer. Still, according to the systematic review of the larger research pool, there is no risk of either of these types of cancers being studied. When meta-analyses suggest associations between coffee drinking and higher risks for other diseases, such as lung cancer, it may largely be explained by inappropriate adjustments for smoking.
Scientists estimate the risk is 16% lower in people who drink coffee than those who do not, but further studies are needed to support this link.
Yet another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests coffee drinkers are at lower risk for dying prematurely of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and forms of cancer. In the study, which included more than 185,000 people, scientists found all race groups--whites, Asians, African-Americans, and Latinos--had 12 percent lower rates of dying of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, respiratory problems, or kidney disease if they drank a cup of coffee daily.
A raft of studies has suggested that caffeine consumption may lower the risk of developing Parkinson's disease -- and a 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology found that a daily dose of caffeine equal to the amount found in two eight-ounce cups of black coffee may help to keep the unintentional movements in people who already have the disease at bay.
Coffee is known to promote cognitive function because it has been found to improve memory and focus. People who drink coffee regularly have been found to have improved scores on attention and cognition tests.
It is believed that coffee promotes cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain. This is in addition to the fact that coffee also contains caffeine, which supports cognitive function.
Coffee has also been shown to enhance mood, which is another factor that contributes to improved cognition.
Contrary to what many think, espresso is not a drink or a bean, it is a method of coffee extraction as well as a coffee drink.
The method consists of forcing small amounts of water through compressed coffee grounds. This results in a concentrated cup of coffee. Contrary to what most people think, espresso has less caffeine than a regular cup of brewed coffee (typically 55mg compared to 155 in an 8oz of coffee) per shot.
Espresso shots form the base of popular beverages such as the latte, cappuccino, macchiato, cortado, piccolo latte, flat white, cafe breve, etc.
I've only recently learned how to make espresso, but I can say that it has opened a whole new world of coffee to me. I see how so many coffee nerds get so heavily into espresso. There's something about the method that is elusive and intriguing, like art.
You can pull one shot that tastes divine and immediately remove another shot that quickly ends up in the trash. There are many variables to control; the grind, the temperature, the beans, the speed, the weight, and the tamper. A slight temperature or tamper pressure skew can result in a completely different extraction. Not to mention the plethora of other variables you introduce when you get into the beans.
How To Brew Espresso
Recommended Espresso Weights For A Double Shot
- Ground Coffee: 18-21 grams
- Extracted Weight (weight of espresso liquid): 26-30 grams
- Extracted Time: 25-30 seconds (how long to reach desired extraction weight)
What you need:
- Espresso Machine
- Burr grinder
- Fresh Coffee Beans ground to fine size (about size of table salt)
- Filtered Water
- Make sure you preheat your machine! The longer the better... ideally 30-45 minutes before. Keep the portafilter in the machine while preheating.
- Run a bit of hot water through machine and portafilter to flush out old grounds.
- Remove portafilter and wipe dry with clean cloth. Place portafilter on scale and tare. Grind your beans and place in portafilter until appropriate weight of coffee is reached (coffee basket).
- Tap portafilter on counter or padded surface to condense grounds before tamping and wipe grounds level with your finger.
- Tamp grounds with a tamper. You want 30-40 pounds of pressure. Lean over counter and extend arm so that elbow is pointing towards ceiling to get an even downward tamping.
- Give the portafilter handle a light spin to ensure an even extraction.
- Place portafilter in machine and an espresso cup on a scale under extraction point.
- Turn machine on aiming for an extraction of 30 grams in about 25-30 seconds.
- Once you reach the 25-30 second mark you are aiming for, you will see the shot start turning yellow, or "blonding." You will want to stop the shot a couple seconds after this.
Common Espresso Problems
Shot extracts too fast - Try these:
- Grind finer
- More grounds
- More pressure on the tamp
Shot takes too long, slow drip extraction - Try these:
- Coarser grind
- Less grounds
- Less pressure on the tamp
Watery shot - Try these:
- Less yield
- More coffee
- Finger grind
- More pressure on the tamp
No or little crema - Try these:
- More coffee
- Finger grinder
- Fresher coffee
Types of espresso drinks
- Single Shot - One ounce shot of espresso typically served in a small porcelain espresso cup on a saucer and with a mini spoon.
- Double Shot or a "Doppio" - A double shot of espresso. Served the same way as a single shot. Uses double the amount of coffee as the single shot.
- Ristretto or "Short shot" - The first 3/4-ounce of espresso. Extraction is stopped before the "blonding" stage of extraction.
- Lungo or "Long shot" - 1 1/2-ounce shot of espresso using more water than a single shot. The long shot can extract for as long as 60 seconds compared to a single shot that extracts in 25-30 seconds. You would think that a Lungo would be less bitter than a single shot due to the higher ratio of water to coffee solids but that is not the case because the additional hot water passing through the grounds extracts more of the bitter compounds of the grounds.
- Caffe Macchiato - Shot of espresso with a "mark" or "stain" (Italian for macchiato) of foam spooned on the top (yum.. one of my favorites).
- Cappuccino - Shot of espresso with a top layer of steamed wet milk and foamed milk.
- Cafe Breve - Shot of espresso with steamed half and half.
- Cafe Latte - Served in a larger cup, a shot of espresso filled to the top with steamed milk. If you don't add foam to the top, it is called a "flat white."
- Cafe Americano - Shot of espresso with hot water added to dilute. Named after American serviceman in Europe during World War 2 that would dilute espresso to make it taste like coffee back in the states.
- Cafe Mocha - A latte with chocolate syrup whisked into the espresso.
- Cafe Zorro - A double espresso with hot water added in equal parts.
- Cortado - Espresso "cut" with a bit of warm milk.
- Espresso con panna - Espresso with whipped cream.
Coffee Brewing Methods
Each coffee brewing method brings its unique taste profile along with pros and cons. This blog post will look at the different techniques for making your morning cup of joe, their pros and cons, their ideal water-to-coffee ratios, and some ideas for getting the most out of every brew.
Drip coffee is the most common way to brew coffee in the US. It's simple and accessible, and most people who drink coffee make it this way. In its simplest form, drip coffee is made using a cone filter placed over a pot, followed by running water through the filter and into a carafe. Drip coffee requires no special equipment, making it a good option for those who want to avoid investing in an expensive coffee brewer. It also has a reasonably standard brewing time, so you can always be sure that your coffee will be ready to go at the same time every day.
Espresso is the go-to method for coffee lovers. It's strong, rich, and intense. It's also made using a different process than drip coffee. Espresso is made using a machine that forces highly pressurized water through finely-ground coffee beans to produce a concentrated, rich, and strong beverage.
Espresso is worth the investment for those who want to get serious about their coffee. Specialty espresso machines are costly, but it's worth the investment if you're serious about your coffee. Espresso does require a bit of extra effort, though. It takes a bit to grind the beans, and the espresso machine takes some time.
The French press is a popular way to brew coffee and is a good option for those who like strong brews. The French media works similarly to drip coffee — the only difference is that you manually do the pressing. The French press uses a filter that is placed inside a carafe. The coffee is then added to the filter and manually pressed to create a coffee grounds-rich mixture. Once the coffee is extracted you pour it out and discard the grounds left in the press.
The French press is an excellent option for those who like strong coffee because there's no need to use a ton of coffee grounds like you would with a drip coffee machine. A smaller amount of settings can be used to produce a rich, intense brew.
The Chemex is a stylish way to brew coffee, but it offers more than a pretty design. The Chemex uses modern paper filters to brew coffee, which is both stylish and eco-friendly. The paper filters also make for a less bitter brew, as the coffee grounds aren't as likely to come into contact with the paper filter.
The Chemex uses a unique pouring process to drip the coffee into a carafe — you place the carafe on top of the coffee maker and pour the coffee from the carafe into the coffee maker. The result is a smooth, rich coffee. The Chemex is a fickle brewing method, but it's worth the trouble if you like to make a good cup of coffee.
The pour-over is another method of brewing that uses paper filters. It's a straightforward way to brew coffee — you place a filter in a dripper, add coffee grounds, and then pour water over the coffee, letting it drip through the filter and into a carafe.
The pour-over is an easy way to create a smooth, rich brew. It's a good option for those who like to take their time to enjoy a good cup of coffee. The only downside to the pour-over is that paper filters can be messy, so you'll want to ensure you have a good-sized carafe to catch the drips.
If you enjoy the simplicity of drip coffee but are looking for a more potent brew, the automatic drip method is worth exploring. The standard drip method uses a weaker blend of coffee, but the more powerful combinations used in the automated form make for a more flavourful cup of coffee.
The automatic drip method follows the same process as the standard but with several changes. The first is that you should use a more potent blend of coffee. Second, you should use a larger filter than the standard method. The larger filter will allow more water to flow through the coffee, resulting in a more potent brew.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to coffee. Whether you're a coffee aficionado or just getting started, we hope you now have a better understanding of all things coffee.
From the different types of beans to the brewing process, there's a lot to know about this delicious beverage.
So next time you're enjoying a cup of joe, take a moment to appreciate all the hard work and effort that went into making it.