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What is Coffee and is it Good for You?

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

As a first blog of the New Year, I thought it would be a good idea to deep dive into two topics:

  1. Go right back to the origins of coffee, and my coffee journey.

  2. The impact coffee has on my Health, and in particular, my Gut-Health.

Gut Health is not only one of the latest trends advocated by health practitioners, in proactive and preventative healthcare medicine today, but also a new and important interest that I am focused on in my life, as my awareness grows with age.

I know we have already published a blog on the “Health Benefits of Coffee Explained”, however this blog hones in on a more specific topic, which is important in my life journey at this moment and I wanted to share my findings with you and hopefully inspire someone else, on their “Coffee Journey”, as well.

In my research, I came across two leading experts in their fields, the one being James Hoffmann, a leading coffee expert and author of the “World Atlas of Coffee”, runs successful blogs on social media, as well as being the co-founder, and is the current Chairman of Square Mile Coffee Roasters.

The second expert being Professor Tim Spector, a Specialist in Endocrinology and now a leading authority, as a dietician and the effects of food on Gut-Health.

So what is Coffee and how does it affect me?

The earliest records of coffee consumption dates back a couple thousand years when certain tribesman in Ethiopia used to grind up dried coffee berries to help with concentration during prayers.

A few thousand years later, by the 17th century, it reached the shores of Europe and Coffee quickly began to replace beer and wine as a favourite beverage of choice, at breakfast. This trend has continued to rise over the years, covering the entire planet, with over 2,5 billion cups of coffee being consumed daily.

Yep, so what is this coffee beverage we seem to be enjoying so much?

Coffee is ultimately the seed of a tropical fruit that grows on a particular shrub and is grown on high elevations between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, around the world.

After its early beginnings, as mentioned above, modern society worked out that if we take the seed, roast it, then smashed it into little pieces and steeped it in some hot water, it resulted in a beverage that is quite stimulating.

This evolution of coffee drinking has developed even further in the past 20 years and has sparked a huge industry, including franchised brands, an abundance of coffee drinks on offer and further the emergence of the Specialty Coffee trends, taking the growing of coffee, the roasting of coffee and the brewing of coffee, to next level, creating a whole new market of discerning coffee connoisseurs, moving away from coffee being commoditised to becoming one that is more specialised.

Apart from having your coffee first thing in the morning as a sort of necessary stimulation, it has also become that small luxury and delight that one spoils one self with, individually or socially.

We all know that Coffee contains Caffeine, but what is Caffiene exaclty?

Believe it or not, caffeine is actually an insect repellent with its purpose to ultimately protect the plant from consumption by tasting bitter or sour.

So why do we enjoy it so much?

Firstly we know, us humans, have a funny habit of enjoying things we’re not supposed to, for example, a single malt whiskey on the rocks, to some of us, it’s the Nectar of the Gods, to others, it taste like paint thinners.

However, it was discovered that the way you grow the coffee plant, the way you roast it, the way you brew it, and what you add to it, like milk, cream, sugar and syrups, has made coffee more palatable to a much larger consumer market.

Okay, so then what are the health benefits of consuming coffee?

According to Professor Tim Spector, in the early 1980’s and through much ignorance of the modern science and technology research we have at our disposal today, coffee got a bad wrap.

Professor Spector even admitted that as a junior Doctor he wrote a paper that warned people off coffee as it was a bad stimulant that over excited one’s heart, was probably a cause of heart disease and heart failure, heart attacks, abnormal rhythms of the heart and was also linked to pancreatic cancer.

This is a claim, that he admits to believing so many years ago, he now refutes and says that it is total rubbish, today.

Further to this, through evidence he has collected in the last five years, he says the studies show that coffee drinkers have less heart disease than non-coffee drinkers and there’s certainly no excess in cancers or mortality to suggest real bad health effects from coffee.

He does however mention the caffeine in coffee and the different sensitivities we might experience with caffeine and that one’s pulse could be elevated from drinking to much coffee, but he admits that it generally doesn’t kill you.

So, apart from the great taste of coffee, what are the other benefits we get from this awesome beverage?

Once again, Professor Spector points out that we’re fixated on only one of the hundreds of chemicals that we think defines coffee, and that is caffeine, which by the way also has certain benefits, but he mentions another benefit of coffee and that is its natural fibre content.

One cup of coffee has approximately 1.5 grams of fibre, does’t seem much, but when one looks at the average consumption of fibre in the USA or the UK diet today, which is only an average of 15 grams per person, then 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day would equate to between one third to one half of the total fibre content consumed in these countries on a daily basis.

The other benefits he mentions are heart and brain health. He says that this is provided through gut microbes and these chemicals called polyphenols make up for the natural defence chemicals in most plants, but particularly in ones that are bitter in taste and are dark in colour like the dark red berries of the coffee plant.

This results in high concentrations of polyphenols expressed in coffee and acts as rocket fuel to ones gut microbes, essential for gut health and the development of a healthy gut microbiome, that in fact protects all organs in the human body.

Another area that blew my mind, is that Professor Tim Spector points out that coffee is considered a Fermented Food Source and compares it to fermented Kombucha, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, live culture Yoghurt and Probiotics.

All coffee goes through some degree of fermentation from natural washing, to honey processed, to the top end level of anaerobic fermentation and all have probiotic properties present.

One could also mention the amount of beneficial antioxidants coffee offers.

The fact is, I could go on all day about the health benefits of coffee consumption from my research, and this excites me tremendously.

So following the benefits of coffee, it is also important to fully grasp the concept of everything in moderation, since all good things also have their limits as well. This brings me to my next question, how many cups of coffee a day can I have?

Firstly, it was apparent by both James Hoffman and Professor Tim Spector, that one has to find their “sweet spot”, or their tolerance levels to caffeine.

Secondly, the recommended daily allowance for caffeine is between 300mg to 400mg per day and the average cup of coffee sits around 100mg.

It was also pointed out by Professor Spector that the health benefits dropped significantly when consuming 6 or more cups of coffee a day.

It is not exactly proven why this is the case, however, it was agreed by both, that their “sweet spot” was 3 cups on average per day, which falls in line with my average consumption, and I was quite chuffed that I felt that I was in good company.

The other question that was asked was, what was the preferred brewing method of choice at home, and again James Hoffman said that his favourite brewing method at home was filter coffee, through a filter paper, which provides for a clean, flavourful and a smooth cup of coffee.

Another point that I would like to mention, is that Professor Tim Spector says that the preferred method of roasting coffee, that provides the most benefit and enhancement of the good chemicals and especially the polyphenols, is through the Dry Roasting Methods.

Guess what, the Air-Motion Roaster is the perfect roaster for this dry roasting process. As coffee beans contain around 14% moisture, it is in the Air-Motion Roaster that this moisture is immediately removed from the roast chamber when released from the coffee bean, allowing for the optimum dry roasting conditions he is talking about.

So, moving forward into the New Year… I am now so excited, with my Air-Motion Roaster and the roasting of the optimum good quality healthy coffee beans, together with the enjoying of the healthy benefits one gets in every cup of coffee, what more can Iask for ? …

Wishing all a “Healthy Coffee Year” ahead… JP.

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