How many Sunday mornings have I lay awake in bed thinking of just one thing? Coffee. It is wonderful, comforting, warm and tasty. It is social, and compliments every event. Some of my absolute favorite moments in life have all transpired with a cup in my hand.

It is also what makes the world go around. 400 million cups of coffee are consumed every day. That is 146 billion cups per year. The United States leads in coffee consumption, and it is our second most imported commodity. Any guesses on what might number one might be? Oil.

But what goes on inside that little cup? Is it good for us? Is it bad for us? Where does it come from?

Are there health benefits to coffee?

Yes, several studies show that drinking a moderate amount of coffee has several benefits including:

-Protecting against type 2 diabetes
-Lower risk of Parkinson’s disease
-Lowering liver cancer risk by 40%
-Decreases the risk of alzheimer’s and dementia by 65%
-Moderate amounts can help depression
-Coffee also contains a ton of antioxidants and provides riboflavin, vitamin b5, magnesium, potassium, and niacin in each cup.

 

But aren’t there some dangers as well?

Yes, coffee contains a lot of caffeine. While most people tolerate, or even excel, with a moderate amount of caffeine, too much can have detrimental effects. It can:

-Raise blood pressure
-Increase insomnia (we all know how important sleep is)
-Increase anxiety and depression
-Caffeine acts as a diuretic. Too much can cause a loss of important vitamins and minerals, and can cause dehydration.


Some who don’t sleep well enough and rely on caffeine to keep themselves awake may also experience adrenal fatigue.

It’s important to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Using caffeine as a jump start and attempting to substitute it for good sleep are two very different things. If you’re starting to not feel like yourself without caffeine in your system, it might be time to cut back and start tucking in a bit earlier.

What is fair trade coffee?

Fair trade is a set of standards and conditions around the relationship between the farmers, traders, and importers of coffee. It seeks to provide a better standard of living for farmers, while simultaneously protecting consumers, the environment, and increase the quality of coffee.

-What perhaps is more important about what fair trade is it prohibits child or forced labor.
-More strict import and export regulations.
-Helps protect farmers and consumers in the event of natural disasters such as severe frost, which is how fair trade got its start.
-How does it help growers? Often small scale family farmers live in remote locations and lack access to credit. This makes them vulnerable to middlemen who offer cash at a fraction of the value of the product.
-Fair trade guarantees a minimum price and connects farmers directly with importers. With a fair price in place, farmers can earn a better income and invest in quality.
-Fair trade is not always organic, but it does promote organic farming with training and higher prices for organic product. About half of all fair trade coffee is grown organically.

 

What makes coffee organic?

Like any organic product, coffee that is grown organically is free of any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicide, and insecticides. In addition to this, organic coffee is grown in the shade. Coffee is best grown in shade, but being farmed in the woods is more difficult than land that has been cleared out and has direct sun light. So not only is organic coffee free of harmful chemicals, it is also grown in it’s natural environment.

Roast and Region

There are many types of roast, but they can essentially be put into 3 categories.

Light: Also known as first crack, lighter body, higher acidity, origin tastes are obvious.
Medium: Sugars are caramelized, lower acidity, higher body – but roast flavor, original flavors remain.
Dark: The second crack, beans will have an oily appearance. Bitter sweet, roast flavor evident, and little of the origin character remains.

Ever walked into a fancy coffee shop and looked at the menu and been intimidated by the options? Me too. Hopefully this helps.

Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua) –  Balanced & Clean.
South Africa (Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia) –  Mild and light. Columbia coffee is sweeter, less acidic, while Brazilian is chocolatey, creamier.
Ethiopia – Only country where coffee is grown wild, complex flavor profile.
Kenya – Rich, wine like acidity, fruit and berry tones.
Indonesia – earthy and darker – less acidic, often savory.

Think I’ll go make a cup of coffee now. What are you thoughts on what is in a good cup? Needs milk? Prefer espresso? What’s the best cup you ever had?

References: Research-Backed Health Benefits of Coffee | Coffee and Your Health