Coffee For Your Health

Many of us rely on coffee to get us going in the mornings, wake us up in the afternoons, and prepare us for that special business meeting. Go ahead, have a cup of coffee. It’s much healthier than you may be thinking right now.

Coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world. No matter where you go, coffee is usually available. Yet, until recently there’s been very little research on the effects of coffee on our health. The researcher’s are waking up however. There have recently been studies completed on a variety of health benefits to drinking that simply delicious cup of coffee.

In a study in Italy, it was proven that that brewed coffee contains many antioxidants and consumption of antioxidant-rich brewed coffee may inhibit diseases caused by oxidative damages. When compared to other caffeine containing beverages like tea and cocoa, coffee proved to be the best in helping to prevent disease.

Caffeine in Coffee – Good or Bad?

The caffeine in coffee has often been a source of concern for many. Most people have problems sleeping when they drink coffee right before bedtime. Others will drink coffee to give them that boost of energy caffeine provides. Some even feel their heart rate increase if they drink too much coffee.

Did you know there are also benefits to the caffeine found in coffee? Coffee intake ( due to the caffeine) was associated with a significantly lower risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, independently of other possible confounding variables. These results, with future prospective studies, may have a major impact on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another benefit of drinking coffee has been studied in China. Their research clinically proved the caffeine in coffee helps to prevent Parkinson’s disease. Many of us have been led to believe that caffeine is bad for us. True enough, large quantities may hurt us, but the evidence is strong for the benefits it provides.

Coffee – Healthy Tonic for the Liver?

Studies completed in Japan indicated that people who drink more than a cup of coffee a day are less likely to develop liver cancer than those who do not, Japanese researchers say. Coffee also helped lower the risk of cirrhosis of the liver. Chlorogenic acid present in coffee beans has been proven in studies to also reduce the risk of liver cancer.

Harvard Medical School completed a study in 2004 that strongly suggest coffee has preventative qualities for Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. The authors found an inverse association between coffee intake and type 2 diabetes after adjustment for age, body mass index, and other risk factors. Total caffeine intake from coffee and other sources was associated with a statistically significantly lower risk for diabetes in both men and women. These data suggest that long-term coffee consumption is associated with a statistically significantly lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

Coffee and Physical Fitness

The amounts of water, carbohydrate and salt that athletes are advised to consume during exercise are based upon their effectiveness in preventing both fatigue as well as illness due to hyperthermia, dehydration or hyper hydration. The old issues concerning coffee and caffeine were that it acts as a diuretic, thus causing more fluid loss during activity. Studies have caused researchers to re think this point. These studies suggest that consuming caffeine does not have this effect and can even have beneficial effects on keeping the body fit.

Caffeine does not improve maximal oxygen capacity directly, but could permit the athlete to train at a greater power output and/or to train longer. It has also been shown to increase speed and/or power output in simulated race conditions. These effects have been found in activities that last as little as 60 seconds or as long as 2 hours. There is less information about the effects of caffeine on strength; however, recent work suggests no effect on maximal ability, but enhanced endurance or resistance to fatigue. There is no evidence that caffeine ingestion before exercise leads to dehydration, ion imbalance, or any other adverse effects.

What about the negative effects of coffee?

Coffee is enjoyed as a drink by millions of people worldwide. It contains caffeine, which is a mild stimulant, and in many people coffee enhances alertness, concentration and performance. Although it contains a wide variety of substances, it is generally accepted that caffeine is responsible for many of coffee’s physiological effects. Because caffeine influences the central nervous system in a number of ways and because a small number of people may be particularly sensitive to these effects, some people have attributed coffee to all sorts of health problems.

Caffeine is not recognized as a drug of abuse and there is no evidence for caffeine dependence. Some particularly sensitive people may suffer mild symptoms of withdrawal after sudden abstention from coffee drinking. A 150ml cup of instant coffee contains about 60mg caffeine, filtered coffee slightly more; for those who like coffee but are sensitive to caffeine, the decaffeinated beverage contains only 3mg per cup.

Coffee drinking can help asthma sufferers by improving ventilator function.

There is no evidence that coffee drinking is a risk for the development of cancer. For several types of cancer there is disagreement between studies but again, other aspects of lifestyle may be implicated. There is even a strong suggestion that coffee may have a protective effect against colon cancer. A possible explanation may lie in the many antioxidant substances present in coffee and which are currently subjects of active research.

In some sensitive individuals, ingestion of coffee after a period of abstinence may cause a temporary rise in blood pressure but there is no hypertensive effect in the long term. Coffee made by the Scandinavian method of boiling or by the cafetiere method may cause mild elevation of plasma cholesterol concentration in some people, but instant, filter coffee, and liquid coffee extract have no such effects. Overall there is no influence of coffee drinking on heart disease risk.

There is no sound scientific evidence that modest consumption of coffee has any effects on outcomes of pregnancy or on the wellbeing of the child. Bone health is not affected by coffee drinking. Adverse effects in some published studies have been attributed to aspects of lifestyle that are often shared by coffee drinkers, such as smoking and inactivity. Coffee drinking can help asthma sufferers by improving ventilator function.

There is no reason for people who are prone to ulcers to avoid coffee.

Research continues and must be subjected to critical scrutiny and re-evaluation. At the present time, there is no reason to forego the pleasurable experience of moderate coffee drinking for health reasons. Go ahead… Have a cup of delicious coffee!

Turkish Coffee FAQ

Turkish coffee is the oldest way of making coffee. This is a short article answering frequently asked questions about Turkish coffee. You can also post your question as a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Questions are in bold.

What kind of coffee must I use for Turkish coffee?

Turkish coffee nowadays is usually made of Latin American blends. Usually the blends contain two kinds of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. Except for the Latin American coffees the blends may also include coffees from Asia or Africa. Some of the best coffees for Turkish blends come from Brazil, Ethiopia and Yemen.

Should I use a coffee particularly made for Turkish coffee or can I use any blend?

Turkish blends are created in a special way to be optimized for Turkish coffee making. Most people that drink the popular Turkish coffee brands are used to a special characteristic taste. This doesn’t mean that you cannot use another coffee blend to make Turkish coffee. For example you can use an espresso blend. The only requirement is that it must be ground very fine like powder. If it isn’t ground fine enough there will be no foam on top of the coffee after you make it and the taste will be weak.

So, in other words you can experiment with any blend you want if you grind it fine enough for Turkish coffee. The taste will be different than the usual though.

Is it healthy?

Turkish coffee is as healthy as any regular coffee. Actually according to some some researches a quantity of two small Turkish coffee cups (demitasse cups) can be beneficial for the heart. If you exceed this amount then it may become bad for your health like any other coffee. Bear in mind that Turkish coffee is made almost as quickly as instant coffee but it’s far better for your health.

What is this thick thing on top of Turkish coffee? Is it like espresso?

When you make Turkish coffee properly you will notice on top a layer of dark, thick and homogeneous foam. This is also known as kaimaki in Greece. If the coffee doesn’t have kaimaki then something is definitely wrong with the coffee making:

  • small quantity of coffee used
  • not properly heated
  • ground coarser than required
  • very stale coffee

In some Eastern countries it is an insult to serve Turkish coffee without this special foam on top.

Kaimaki foam is looks similar to the espresso crema but it very different in terms of physical properties. The espresso crema is formed not only due to heat but also because of high pressure so it’s quite different.

Do I need any special expensive equipment for Turkish coffee?

Making Turkish coffee is very easy and very fast. All you need is a small coffee pot and a heat source. You can use a small stainless steel pot and your electric stove top but it’s preferable to use a traditional copper or brass Turkish pot. Regarding the heat source it’s better to use low fire to make the coffee. A gas burner or an alcohol burner is my favorite heat source for home use.

What size coffee pot do I need?

This is a question that creates a lot of misunderstandings. Basically it depends on how much coffee you are going to make each time.

First, what you need to know is that you will need a coffee pot that holds approximately double the amount of coffee. This is because coffee must have enough room in the pot to foam up and furthermore because of the so-called “oven effect”.

Let me explain…

Traditional Turkish coffee pots have an hourglass shape. This special shape creates an oven-like effect when making Turkish coffee. The oven-effect is highly desirable for better taste. The only requirement for this “oven-effect” is to fill the pot till the point where the pot diameter is smaller. Usually this means a half-full pot.

So, If you want to make two demitasse cups, for you and your friend, you will need a 4 demitasse-cup size coffee pot.

Please note that sizing differs among manufacturers. So instead of looking for a 4-cup size coffee pot look for a coffee pot that holds 4*60ml which equals 240ml. 60ml or approximately 2oz is the size of a demitasse cup.

What about a coffee pot for just one cup?

In this case you will need a coffee pot that holds 2*60ml=120ml coffee.

What about one normal cup?

One normal cup is approximately 250ml so you will need a 500ml pot.

These numbers are not exact. They are just guides to help you. Most of the times buying a bit smaller coffee pot will also be adequate.

Can I grind Turkish coffee with my coffee grinder?

Turkish coffee is ground at the most fine grind setting. Most grinders for home use are incapable of grinding so fine. If you have a blade grinder consider upgrading to a burr grinder. This doesn’t mean that every burr grinder can grind Turkish coffee. So if you are in the market in research of a burr grinder make sure it has a Turkish coffee setting. Some burr grinders don’t have a Turkish coffee setting but they can be modified very easily to grind fine enough for this coffee. This information can be easily found if you make a couple of searches in a search engine.

Another solution are manual-operated Turkish coffee grinders. These grinders are much cheaper than burr grinders and because of their low speed coffee is ground gently without getting heated. In cheap burr grinders because of the small burr dimensions the rotating speed is higher. This way the friction is bigger and the heat generation is higher. More heat means more coffee taste destruction! So in other words small grinding speeds of manual grinders are better for your palate! The big drawback is that this sort of grinding can remind you of manual labor sometimes…

Is there any special way to serve Turkish coffee? Any special tradition?

If you have guests and you want to impress them with your coffee making mastery and your hospitality you can do some simple things. First use a big traditional looking serving tray and put some glasses of water for your guests. Water is used to clean the mouth before tasting the coffee. Prepare the coffees immediately before serving time so that they keep their kaimaki foam and their temperature. You can pair the coffee with some cookies or muffins.

The Best Coffees in the World

When considering the best coffees in the world, I went to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) for research. They are the organization that sets the quality standards for specialty coffee, which the public calls “gourmet” coffee. All specialty coffees use arabica beans. The other category of is the robusta bean, which is of inferior taste quality to arabica. Within these categories, there are several varieties of bean. Arabica beans are grown at a higher altitude than robusta.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is graded in a similar manner as wine. This event is called a “cupping” and has a set of strict standards. Winning a cupping is very prestigious and has a direct effect on the prices a coffee grower can get for his crop.

History of these “cupping” winners has shown that three areas of the world produce the most winners. Interestingly, these regions have a very similar latitude when looking at the world map. The three regions are Ethiopia, Sumatra and Panama.

Ethiopian/Kenyan Coffee (Africa)

Ethiopian coffee is aromatic, highly flavorful, and also known to be some of the best coffees in the world. It is also the origin of all coffee. The Ethiopian people have a legend that says that a goat herder discovered Ethiopian coffee around 850 AD. This legend claims that the goat herder noticed that his sheep were very excited and nearly dancing after eating red berries from a tree. The legend of the founder goes on to say that the herder sampled the red berries for himself and took some of the berries home to his wife who insisted that he take them to the monks. The monks supposedly threw the berries into a fire and noticed the delicious smell that the berries produced. The monks are said to have removed the berries from the fire and boiled the berries in water to create the beverage that we now know as Ethiopian coffee.

Whether this legend is true, or in fact just a legend is forever a mystery. Regardless, Ethiopian coffee has been used for religious ceremonies. These ceremonies are still held today and if a guest is invited to participate in the ceremony, it is well known to be a very beautiful experience.

Locally, Ethiopian coffee is served with either sugar, or in some parts of Ethiopia, salt. Milk or any type of creamer is never used in traditionally brewing. The process of making the coffee varies by region. In some regions it is dry processed and in some other regions it is washed. The Ethiopian coffee found in stores today is dry processed.

The process is often grueling and coupled with with importing adds to the reason of why Ethiopian coffee can be expensive.

When consumers purchase Ethiopian coffee to be brewed at home, it is wise to consider fair trade Ethiopian coffee. The obvious reason to consider fair trade is so that the producers of this wonderful product can reap the benefits of their hard work. Ethiopian coffee has a rich, bold, and exciting history and a taste that has been favored by many people for a long time.

Sumatran Coffee (Indonesia)

Sumatran coffee comes from the island in Indonesia called Sumatra. The taste of Sumatran coffee is spicy, herbal, and very distinct. It is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world and was first introduced by the Dutch around 1699 when the Dutch wanted to keep up with the demand of coffee to Europe. The Dutch traders knew the difference between Sumatran coffee beans and other coffee beans by the appearance, which are irregularly shaped and bright green.

Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffees in the world and has a low acidity which makes it highly favored among other types of coffee. The beans are usually grown in full sunlight and with no chemicals. A highly popular type of Sumatran coffee, yet thoroughly disgusting in many peoples opinion, is the kopi luwak Sumatran coffee. The kopi luwak coffee is coffee beans that have been eaten by the small animal known as a luwak. After the luwak digests and excretes the coffee beans, local villagers collect the excreted beans and roast them. These excreted and roasted beans are said to cost about $300 a pound. Of course, not all of Sumatran coffee comes from the excrement of the luwak. There are many other varieties of Sumatran coffee as well.

Most of the Sumatran coffee beans are processed using the wet and dry processing method. This processing method is another reason why Sumatran coffee is so popular. Most other types of coffee beans are processed by using either a wet method or a dry method, hardly ever both.

When purchasing Sumatran coffee for use at home, a person should try to purchase fair trade Sumatran coffee. Fair trade beans can be found at various online retailers and also at gourmet coffee retailers. This insures that the growers benefit from all of the hard work that they put into growing this delicious coffee.

Sumatran coffee has a taste unlike any other and once you try it for yourself, you may find that it will quickly replace your current brand or at least be a coffee that becomes one of your favorites.

Panamanian Coffee (Central America)

Although Panama is the smallest of all coffee producing countries, they grow most of the best rated coffees every year. The coffee region surrounds the town of Boquete in the western province of Chiriqui close to the Costa Rican border. Some say Panama has the ideal micro climate to grow coffee receiving winds from the north along with a light mist and cool breeze. Most of the coffee is grown on farms and is called an Estate coffee which signifies the farm it is from.

The process includes hand picking, washing and sun drying. The farms work closely with the indigenous people enhancing the community with social, medical and educational services. Because of this, fair trade is not a concern. It is a harmonious relationship between farm and worker.

For years, coffee from Panama was not well known amongst the public but the quality was apparent to the traders. So much so, that one trader was caught selling the lower cost Panamanian coffee beans as Hawaiian Kona beans, a much well known high end arabica bean.

Currently, Panamanian coffee has come of age winning numerous cuppings to the point in 2003 when the competition was changed. Previously, each entry was individual and Panamanian entrants would win up to five of ten awards. Now, they have groupings and each group can produce up to two winners that move up to the next level.

It should be noted that although Panamanian coffee has been established as the best in the region, wonderful coffees do come from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Columbia.

Even though most of the world favors the western coffees, a true coffee lover should be adventurous and taste the best coffees of the world. Try Ethiopian and Sumatran coffees along with those that are in close proximity to those regions. You may be surprised at what you have been missing.

The Names of Different Coffee Drinks

Coffee drinks have many different names that come from many sources. Coffee houses have 64 drink selections they agree have the same basic recipe. Some of these drinks have different names or have a number of variations. A good barista is one who knows how to make them all.

Affogato is Italian for drowned. This can be a drink or served as a dessert a drink or dessert with espresso that may also incorporate caramel sauce or chocolate sauce.

The Baltimore is an equal mix of decaffeinated and caffeinated brewed coffee while the Black Eye is dripped coffee with a double shot of espresso creating a strong taste.

The Black Tie is a traditional Thai Iced Tea, which is a spicy and sweet mixture of chilled black tea, orange blossom water, star anise, crushed tamarind, sugar and condensed milk or cream, with a double shot of espresso.

The Breven is made with steamed half and half cream while the Caffè Americano or simply Americano is prepared by adding hot water to espresso, giving a similar strength, but different flavor from regular drip coffee. The strength of an Americano varies with the number of shots of espresso added. Variations include the Long Black, Lungo and Red eye.

The European Café au Lait is a continental tradition known by different names, but is the most popular drink in European coffee houses. It is made using strong or bold coffee as well as espresso that is mixed with scalded milk in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Cafe Bombon was made popular in Valencia, Spain and modified to suit European tastes and many parts of Asia such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The basic European recipe uses espresso served with sweetened condensed milk in a 1 to 1 ratio. The Asian version uses coffee and sweetened condensed milk at the same ratio. For visual effect, a glass is used, to create two separate bands of contrasting color.

In America, the Caffe Latte is a portion of espresso and steamed milk, generally in a 2 to 1 ratio of milk to espresso, with a little foam on top. This beverage was popularized by large coffee chains such as Starbucks.

The Cafe Medici starts with a double shot of espresso extracted using a double filter basket in a portafilter that is poured over chocolate syrup and orange or lemon peel, which is usually topped with whipped cream. This drink originated at Seattle’s historic Last Exit on Brooklyn coffeehouse.

A Cafe Melange is a black coffee mixed or covered with whipped cream. This drink is most popular in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

A Cafe Miel has a shot of espresso, steamed milk, cinnamon, and honey. Miel is honey in Spanish.

Coffee milk is similar to chocolate milk; but coffee syrup is used instead. It is the official state drink of Rhode Island in the United States.

A Cafe mocha or Mocha is a variant of a caffe latte, but a portion of chocolate is added, typically in the form of chocolate syrup. When bought from a vending system, instant chocolate powder is used. Mochas can contain dark or milk chocolate.

Moccaccino is a term used in some regions of Europe and the Middle East to describe caffe latte with cocoa or chocolate. In the U.S., it usually refers to a cappuccino made with chocolate.

Cafe Zorro is a double espresso added to hot water in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Ca phe sua da is a unique Vietnamese coffee recipe that means iced milk coffee. Mix black coffee with about a quarter to a half as much sweetened condensed milk, pour over ice. Phe sua nong means hot milk coffee, which excludes ice. In Spain, a similar drink is called Cafe del Tiempo, hot, or Cafe con Hielo, ice.

Cappuccino is a coffee-based drink prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam. It is served in a porcelain cup, which has far better heat retention. The foam on top of the cappuccino acts as an insulator to help retain the heat, allowing it to stay hotter longer.

The Caramel Machiatto or C-Mac is a vanilla latte with foam and gooey caramel drizzled on top, while Chai Latte notes that the steamed milk of a normal cafè latte is being flavored with a spiced tea concentrate.

A Chocolate Dalmatian is a white chocolate mocha topped with java chip and chocolate chip while Cinnamon Spice Mocha is mixed cinnamon syrup, topped with foam and cinnamon powder.

A Cortado, Pingo or Garoto is an espresso with a small amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. The ratio of milk or steamed milk to coffee is between 1 to 1 to 1 to 2. Milk is added after the espresso is made.

Decaf is a beverage made with decaffeinated beans while a Dirty Chai is Chai tea made with a single shot of espresso.

An Eggnog Latte is a seasonal blend of steamed 2% milk and eggnog, espresso and a pinch of nutmeg. In Germany, the Eiskaffee, ice cream coffee consists of chilled coffee, milk, sweetener, vanilla ice cream, and sometimes whipped cream.

An Espresso Romano is a shot of espresso with a small rind of lemon and sugar added.

A Flat White is prepared by pouring creamy steamed milk from the bottom of the jug over a single shot of espresso creating a lighter froth. This drink originated in New Zealand and Australia.

Frappuccino is the name and registered trademark of Starbucks blended ice beverage and bottled coffee beverage that may different flavors.

Galao is a hot drink from Portugal made of espresso and foamed milk. It is made in a tall glass with about one quarter coffee, three-quarters foamed milk.

Guillermo was originally made with one or two shots of hot espresso, poured over slices of lime or on ice; sometimes served with a touch of milk.

Another seasonal blend, a Gingerbread Latte consists of steamed milk, espresso, gingerbread syrup, topped with a pinched of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla powder.

Greek frappé coffee is a foam-covered iced coffee drink made from spray-dried instant coffee. It is a very popular Greek summer drink.

A Green Eye, also known as Triple Death, is dripped coffee with a triple shot of espresso.

Half-caf is made with half and half parts caffeinated beans and decaffeinated beans. Iced coffee varieties include Farmers Union Iced Coffee and Toddy coffee.

South Indian Coffee, also known as Madras Filter Coffee or Kaapi is a sweet milky coffee made from dark roasted coffee beans and chicory. It is especially popular in the southern states of India.

Instant coffee is a beverage derived from dehydrated brewed coffee beans that come in powder or granules. Some brands include Chock full o’Nuts, Japanese canned coffee, Moccona and Nescafe.

Irish coffee is coffee combined with whiskey and cream, often further sweetened with sugar.

Kopi susu is found in Malaysian Borneo and Indonesia. Kopi susu means coffee milk and is served in a glass of cooled mixed black Arabica coffee including grounds with about a quarter to a half a glass of sweetened condensed milk. Kopi Turbruk uses sugar instead of sweetened condensed milk.

Libbylou is a hot espresso made with equal parts mocha and white mocha topped with espresso and steamed half and half. It is served plain without a topping,

Liqueur coffee, is brewed coffee with a shot of liqueur and usually served in a warmed glass. Sugar is required in the coffee mixture to help the cream float. There are 17 varieties; each uses a different liqueur.

Macchiato is an espresso with a dash of foamed milk that is put directly into the espresso cup first; espresso is dispensed into the cup. Cocoa is then sprinkled over the drink.

Mary Turner Coffee is a soft amount of milk, 3 sweeteners, and the rest coffee. It’s an evening drink.

Mazagran is a long cold coffee beverage from Portugal and served in a tall glass. It is made with at least strong coffee, usually espresso, lemon and ice. Sometimes sugar, rum or water is added or a fast version uses previously sweetened espresso in a cup with ice cubes and a slice of lemon.

Mochasippi is prepared by baristas in coffee houses in southern states. Similar to the Mocha, but a Mochasippi contains actual shots of espresso rather than a powdered instant coffee.

Pumpkin Spice Latte is a Fall seasonal blend of steamed milk, espresso, sugar, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, topped with foam and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice.

Pocillo is a shot or small portion of unsweetened coffee, now usually made either using an espresso machine or a moka maker, but traditionally made using a cloth drip and served in cups made for the purpose in Latin America.

Raspberry Mocha is a regular mocha with raspberry flavoring.

Red Eye is a dripped coffee with a single shot of espresso while a Red Tie is a traditional Thai Iced Tea, a spicy and sweet mixture of chilled black tea, orange blossom water, star anise, crushed tamarind, sugar and condensed milk or cream along with a single shot of espresso.

A Red Tux is a Zebra Mocha with raspberry flavoring.

Regular Coffee in New York City, a regular coffee with cream and sugar. A variant phrasing is coffee regular.

Ristretto is a very short shot of espresso coffee. All strengths of flavors are usually attributed to espresso in general, but are more pronounced in Ristretto.

Skinny Latte is a reduced calorie latte made with steamed non-fat milk and artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda or Equal. A Soy Latte is a latte made with steamed soy milk.

A Torpedo is made by placing the froth from steamed milk in cup with espresso coffee falling though the froth. The torpedo creates a very clean and distinct flavor for those who prefer a stronger taste of espresso than through conventional cappuccino.

Triple C’s combines Cinnamon Dolce Latte with caramel syrup and chocolate syrup.

Turkish coffee is made by immersing the coffee grounds in water that is hot but not boiling long enough to dissolve the flavorsome compound. In Turkey, sweetness used is from a pinch to two teaspoons. Pouring that creates the most foam is considered the best cup.

Vienna coffee is the name of a popular traditional cream based coffee beverage. Made by preparing two shots of strong black espresso in a coffee cup, it is infused with whipped cream until the cup is full; then topped with more cream and chocolate sprinklings.

White Chocolate Mocha or sometimes referred to as White Mocha and is a sweet mixture espresso, steamed milk, white chocolate syrup. This sugary drink is often topped with whipped cream.

Yuanyang, sometimes also called Ying Yong, is a popular beverage in Hong Kong. Made of a mixture of coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea, it is served hot or cold. Yuanyang means pair of two unlike items as used in this drink.

Zebra Mocha, sometimes known as a Black Tux, is a mixture of regular mocha with a white chocolate mocha.

Local drinks add to the variety of coffee drinks covered here as do new creations whether by customers or by baristas themselves. If they become known around the world, they will join the list above.

The Good And Bad About Coffee

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world – it is also mega business. Coffee plants are cultivated in more than 70 countries. It is an important export commodity for Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Half the population in America drinks coffee on a daily basis. Starbucks, founded in 1971, is now the world’s biggest coffeehouse chain with over 20,000 stores in more than 60 countries. In the last five years (2009-2013) alone, Starbucks’ share price has risen more than seven-fold.

Given this widespread popularity, it is no surprise that many people have wondered if drinking coffee is an unhealthy habit. Caffeine, after all, is a stimulant drug and is addictive. For decades, medical advice from organizations like the American Heart Association has indicated that coffee may lead to high blood pressure and is bad for your heart. You may even have been told that coffee will give you an ulcer. However, in recent years, there has been an enormous amount of new research that has just pretty much exonerated coffee.

Is coffee good or bad for you? The following summarizes the latest findings on coffee and how it may actually benefits your health. Further, if you are a regular coffee drinker, there are certain things about coffee that you should also be aware of. Lastly, know that coffee may not be appropriate for everyone, if you have certain conditions, you should not be drinking coffee at all.

Latest Research On The Health Perks Of Coffee

Although not every single study shows coffee to have health-promoting properties, the majority is rather positive.

Apart from caffeine, coffee contains a natural blend of polyphenol antioxidants, bioflavonoids, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and chromium. Research shows that not only are the non-caffeine components of coffee anti-inflammatory, they work together synergistically to help neutralize the harsher effects of the caffeine. In addition, coffee may actually activate beneficial pathways in our bodies at the DNA level.

These studies show that moderate coffee consumption on a regular basis reverses cognitive impairment, cuts cancer risk, stabilizes blood sugar, and benefits the heart. In other words, coffee helps reduce the risk of many diseases:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer (including breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, liver, and oral)
  • Diabetes (type 2)
  • Heart disease (including heart rhythm problems and stroke)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prostate cancer

Important Facts For Coffee Drinkers

Even though coffee may have all the amazing health benefits, not all coffee is the same. Besides, how and when you drink it makes a difference too.

Always choose organic. Coffee is a crop that is heavily sprayed with pesticides, therefore, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic. Whenever possible, purchase sustainable “shade-grown” coffee to help prevent the continued destruction of the tropical rain forests and the birds that inhabit them.

Always buy whole bean. Only purchase whole beans that smell and taste fresh, not stale.

You do not want to buy pre-ground coffee because you never know whether it is already rancid by the time you get it.

Darker roast is superior to light roast. The darker roasts, such as French, Italian, or those used to make expresso and Turkish coffee, are higher in neuroprotective agents than the lighter roasts. Dark roast coffee restores blood levels of the antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione more effectively than light roast coffee. Dark roast coffee is also easier on your stomach as it contains a chemical that prevents your stomach from producing excess acid.

Best time to drink coffee is in the morning. According to some research, coffee may increase your metabolism by up to 20 percent. Therefore, having a cup of organic coffee or one shot of espresso in the morning is ideal. If you exercise in the morning, have your coffee before workout as studies show that coffee boosts athletic performance, not after as the caffeine may interfere with your body’s muscle-building mechanism. However, do not go overboard, one or two cups in the morning should be the maximum for the day.

Drink your coffee without sugar, artificial sweetener, or commercial creamers. Otherwise, you are undoing all the health benefits of coffee. Excess sugar intake increases the risk of insulin resistance, suppresses the immune system, and perpetuates addictive food behavior. If you like dairy and can tolerate it, you may add organic or preferably grass-fed whole milk or cream to your coffee. Skim or non-fat milk often has more sugar than whole milk, while commercial creamers tend to have unsavory ingredients.

Avoid flavored and novelty coffees. These products usually contain a myriad of chemical additives.

Use non-bleached filters. If you use a drip coffee maker, avoid using the bright white chlorine-bleached filters. Some of the chlorine may leach into the coffee during the brewing process. The bleached filters may also contain dangerous disinfection byproducts such as dioxin.

Avoid plastic cups. Be careful about the container you drink your coffee from. Plastic cups may leach BPA and Styrofoam cups may leach polystyrene molecules. Your best bets are glass, ceramic, or stainless steel coffee mugs.

When Coffee Is Not Right For you?

If you are pregnant, you should completely avoid using caffeine.

If you have an issue with decreased adrenal function or adrenal fatigue, caffeine can actually create more stress on your adrenal glands. In this day and age, many people are constantly stressed and fatigued, and rely on caffeine for sustained energy to get through the day. If this is the case, it is a tell-tale sign that your body is not functioning properly and you need to address the underlying problems.

Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc on your health. The adrenal glands affect every organ and system in the body – from metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, to fluid and electrolyte balance, cardiovascular system, immune system, hormonal system, and even your sex drive. Therefore, if you have adrenal fatigue, pumping your system with caffeine is merely going to aggravate your problem in the long run.

Coffee has a diuretic effect. If you have problems with electrolyte balance, you may want to avoid it too.

If you drink coffee and have problems falling asleep or tend to wake up in the night, you may be caffeine sensitive. Caffeine levels vary depending on the type of roast, grind, and brewing method. Darker roasts contain less caffeine than lighter roasts. The finer the grind, the higher the caffeine in the coffee. Drip coffee has more caffeine than espresso because the brew time is much longer. If you experience sleep issues from the caffeine, you may want to vary your type of roast, grind, or brewing method or cut down on the amount you drink every day and make sure you only have coffee early in the morning.

If you experience stomach cramping, heart palpitations, or other symptoms after drinking coffee, you may actually have a food intolerance. There is also the possibility of mold (coffee is a dried food and may contain mold) or other contaminants in the coffee that trigger a physical reaction.

What About Decaffeinated Coffee?

To date, there is yet conclusive evidence showing whether decaf coffee holds up to the benefits of caffeinated coffee. Limited studies were conducted using decaf coffee but the ones that do seem to be promising. However, since caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and can result in dependence and withdrawal symptoms, decaf coffee is probably the way to go if you like the taste of coffee.

When you buy decaf coffee, always choose organic and Swiss Water Process, which is a chemical-free method to extract caffeine. Beware that almost all decaf coffee found in coffeehouses and grocery stores is processed with the chemical solvent ethyl acetate. You want to avoid this type of decaf coffee as traces of chemical solvent still remain in the coffee.

Decaf coffee by law has to have at least 97 percent of the caffeine removed. For reference, a shot of espresso at Starbucks has 75 mg of caffeine, a short (8-oz) brewed coffee has 175 mg, a tall (12 oz) 260 mg, and a grande (16 oz) 330 mg. As you can see, if you have several cups a day, the caffeine can add up rather quickly.

In conclusion, coffee is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that benefit your health. However, be cautious with the stimulant effect of caffeine as it can become extremely addictive. Caffeine is also a source of stress for your adrenal glands. Therefore, drinker be aware! If you like the taste of coffee, mixing regular with decaf may be a good way to gradually cut down on your dependence of caffeine.