Coffee... It's hard to find another drink that is so versatile. We start with a fragrant cup in the morning, remember coffee when we need to drive away sleep and restore strength, friendly gatherings and romantic dates are not complete without this drink. But such a huge popularity gives rise to many myths. So what is coffee really for a person: salvation and enjoyment or the most dangerous enemy? Let's find the answer to this question together.
Origins: legends and scientific facts
Puzzle the World Wide Web with the query "Origin of coffee" and the search engine will return several million pages of stories on this topic. And in many versions, the date when humanity first tasted this drink “walks” within several centuries. Somewhere they call the V century, somewhere XI or XIII. And the most famous coffee legend dates back to 850. According to legend, once an Ethiopian shepherd, Kaldi, noticed that his goats, having tasted the dark green leaves and red fruits of one of the bushes, began to behave very strangely. Animals jumped and frolicked. The shepherd himself tried the berries, and soon learned about the powerful effect of coffee beans.
And now some facts from researchers. Scientists suggest that the coffee plant first appeared on a plateau in central Ethiopia, in a region known as Kaffe. By the way, in the traditions of the Ethiopian Galla tribe, the tradition of consuming “energy balls” made from animal fats and soaked coffee berries has been preserved to this day.
Over time, the culture spread to the lands of Yemen, Cairo, Mecca. In the Arabian Peninsula, coffee became the favorite fruit of the monks. They consumed an infusion of berries and leaves to keep them awake during many hours of nightly prayer. It is believed that it was they who thought of roasting and grinding grains for the first time.
By the 16th century, coffee was known in Turkey, and the product quickly spread throughout the Ottoman Empire. In the 17th century, Venetian merchants brought fragrant grains to Europe, but the Catholic Church met the drink with caution. Advisors urged Pope Clement VIII to proclaim coffee the "devil's" drink. But the Pope refused and he himself "got hooked" on the Arab power engineer. And when Europe was carried away with might and main by the coffee aroma, Arab merchants, in order to maintain a monopoly on the cultivation and supply of goods, poured boiling water over the beans before sending them to Europe.
It is believed that the very first coffee house appeared in Istanbul, where coffee became an integral part of the local culture.
Although, according to another assumption, the first establishments where the drink was brewed originated in Mecca. The first European coffee houses appeared in Venice, but none of them have survived to this day. But in the German city of Leipzig, even today you can visit the oldest Coffee House in Europe, opened back in 1694.
Types and varieties
Coffee is an evergreen tropical shrub with white flowers that smell like jasmine. The coffee beans we are used to are contained inside red berries - two in each.
Every morning, millions of people around the world start their day with a cup of invigorating coffee, a drink made from the roasted and crushed seeds of the coffee plant. There are many varieties of coffee, but they all represent only 2 product categories: Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica is a species native to the Arabian Peninsula. It is the oldest cultivated, and the most popular in the modern world (occupies almost 70% of the market). Arabica beans are large, slightly elongated and flattened. The taste of Arabica may differ depending on the quality of the soil, weather conditions, temperature conditions in which the coffee plant developed. Ethiopian Arabica is known for its mild and delicate flavor with floral undertones. The Kenyan bean is recognizable for its sharper and bitterer flavor, the beans from Latin America are also bitter, but have a cocoa flavor and leave a nutty aftertaste. One of the most popular varieties in the world are varieties grown in Colombia. Their distinguishing feature is the taste of walnuts.
Robusta, or the graying coffee tree, comes from the Congo. Compared to Arabica, these varieties are more resistant to weather conditions and diseases, require less care, but are inferior in taste. Ripe grains are small and rounded.
Another known coffee tree is the Liberian, or Liberica, which is not as popular because it has a worse taste and aroma than other types. Liberica accounts for no more than 2% of the global coffee market.
Most Popular Types
Coffee drinkers know a lot of coffee drinks, but seven of them are truly the most popular and best known in the world.
- Espresso. This is a strong black coffee made with a press and steam. Properly prepared drink - with a thick, golden brown foam. It is consumed with a small addition of sugar (in a high-quality drink, sugar will linger on the foam for several seconds before sinking to the bottom).
- Cappuccino. This is natural coffee with whipped cream . The correct option is a mix of equal proportions of coffee, fresh milk and milk foam. Foam is usually sprinkled with a little cocoa powder or grated dark chocolate.
- Americano. This is, in fact, a shot of espresso added to a cup of hot water. Usually consumed with sugar and/or milk.
- Cafe latte. A mix of 1 part espresso and 3 parts fresh milk. Delicious sweet, with different pastries and desserts.
- Coffee with milk. A traditional French drink, somewhat reminiscent of a latte. The difference is in the proportions of the ingredients. In the French version, the ratio of components is one to one.
- Mokachino. This is a cappuccino or latte with chocolate syrup. Often served with a "cap" of grated chocolate or cocoa powder.
- Macchiato. It is a combination of espresso, caramel, foamed milk and vanilla.
The benefits and harms of coffee
“Drinking coffee is bad!” - categorically declare some opponents of this drink. However, not everything is so clear. Coffee contains many antioxidants and an impressive amount of other beneficial substances for humans, and the latest research convinces us that much of what we know about this drink is nothing more than a myth. Here are some facts about the health benefits of this aromatic black drink.
Energizes and makes us smarter
Coffee helps people feel more alert and increases energy levels. This is because the product contains a stimulant known as caffeine. By the way, it is the most popular psychostimulant in the world. After a cup of drink, caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream, and along with it enters the brain, where it blocks the work of the neurotransmitter adenosine. When this happens, levels of other neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine, rise sharply in the body, resulting in firing of neurons.
Many clinical studies show that coffee improves overall brain function, including improved memory and mood, increased alertness, and beneficial effects on cognitive function.
Helps burn fat
Did you know that almost all weight loss products contain caffeine. And all because it is one of the few natural substances that promote fat burning. Studies have shown that caffeine can speed up metabolism by 3-11%. However, there is a caveat: with excessive coffee consumption, this effect weakens.
Speaking of weight gain, one cannot help but think of green coffee, which contains particularly high portions of chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that promotes weight loss.
Caffeine increases blood levels of adrenaline. This hormone is necessary for a person during intense physical exertion. Caffeine breaks down body fat to provide extra energy. Given these abilities of caffeine, it is not surprising that coffee benefits people who work physically. A cup of the drink, drunk about 30 minutes before a workout in the gym, can increase physical endurance by 11-12%.
Source of important nutrients
Coffee is more than just a flavored drink. Its grains contain many nutrients. A cup of drink contains approximately 11% of the daily value of vitamin B2, 6% of vitamin B5, about 3% of manganese and of potassium. And magnesium and vitamin B3 in a cup of coffee contains an amount corresponding to two percent of the recommended daily portion.
Reduces the risk of diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a serious problem for mankind. Today, about 300 million people suffer from this disease in the world. And this number continues to grow. But research is increasingly showing that regular black coffee can prevent the disease. The results of scientific observations show that people who consume this drink are approximately 23-50% less at risk of diabetes. Why this happens, scientists continue to analyze.
Protects against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
Alzheimer's usually affects people over 65 years of age. Unfortunately, scientists have not yet found a cure for this neurodegenerative disease. But there is good news. Proper nutrition, exercise and... coffee can prevent the development of the disease. Coffee drinkers are almost 65% less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. Approximately the same figures for Parkinson's disease. However, scientists note that decaffeinated coffee does not have a protective effect against these diseases.
Helps the liver
The liver is an extremely important organ in the human body. It has hundreds of functions. But cirrhosis and other diseases can deprive this organ of its ability to play its unique role. Not only medications will help protect the liver, but also a cup of coffee. Drinkers of this aromatic drink are almost 80% more protected from the risk of cirrhosis and other painful changes in the liver tissues.
Scientists from Harvard University have calculated that women who consume 3-4 cups of coffee a day are 5 times less likely to suffer from depression. Another study showed that coffee also reduces people's suicidal tendencies. Biologists explain this phenomenon by the ability of caffeine to activate the production of hormones in the body that are responsible for good mood and positive thinking.
Reduces the risk of some types of cancer
Cancer is accompanied by uncontrolled growth of degenerate cells in the body. Coffee, according to the results of clinical experiments, is able to prevent this process. At least when it comes to malignant tumors in the liver and colon. Scientists made similar conclusions after observing almost 500 thousand people.
Considering that coffee drinkers are less likely to get many serious diseases, it can be said that this drink prolongs life. But there are other, more compelling facts. The researchers calculated that the death rate among male coffee drinkers is about 20% lower than that of those who refused this aromatic drink. Women who drink espresso have a 26% lower mortality rate.
The most important source of antioxidants
It may seem strange, but at least scientists say so. Coffee contains more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. This gives some researchers reason to rank this product among the healthiest drinks.
A Few Hard Facts: Potential Coffee Dangers
It may come as a surprise to many, but coffee is one of the crops most heavily polluted with pesticides. Usually the danger is low-quality and cheap grains. On the other hand, regular consumption of large portions of the drink increases the risk of rising cholesterol, the occurrence of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disorders. And now a little more about the most bitter facts.
Effect on hydrochloric acid
Many people like to drink coffee in the morning on an empty stomach. And that's the worst thing you can do to your stomach. The fact is that this drink stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which, according to the design of nature, should be secreted only for the digestion of food. An empty stomach begins to “digest” itself.
Acidity, ulcers, bowel disease
Coffee contains various substances (including caffeine) that irritate the mucous membranes of the stomach and small intestine. And this is a serious problem for people with gastritis, ulcers, Crohn's disease and other bowel disorders. The acidic effect of the coffee product affects the balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria in the digestive organs. And irritated mucous membranes often cause abdominal cramps, cramps, diarrhea, and constipation.
Heartburn and reflux
Coffee relaxes the sphincter. Normally, after eating, this muscle should be tightly closed to prevent the leakage of food and hydrochloric acid from the stomach into the esophagus. For a long time it was believed that this effect provokes caffeine. But recent observations suggest that a decaffeinated drink also causes a similar result.
This black drink can stimulate intestinal motility, working as a natural laxative. Some use this effect intentionally. But still, it is important to understand that in this case there is an increased emptying of the stomach, the body does not have time to properly absorb the beneficial components from food.
By the way, the researchers say that it is not caffeine that acts as a laxative – a decaffeinated drink does the same.
People who abuse coffee are often deficient in many minerals, even if their diet is rich in these substances or they take dietary supplements. This is because coffee interferes with iron absorption in the stomach and also impairs the ability of the kidneys to retain calcium, zinc, magnesium and other important minerals.
Acrylamide is a potentially carcinogenic substance that is formed when coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures. The darker the beans, the more likely they are to contain a high concentration of acrylamides.
Relationship with stress
The body of coffee drinkers produces more stress hormones - cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. These chemicals speed up the heartbeat, increase blood pressure, and cause tension in the body. Yes, it is these substances that give the body energy, but in some cases they support the body in constant tension. If this effect continues for a long time, this is a very dangerous indicator for the body.
Is a caffeine-free drink healthy?
Many coffee drinkers still prefer decaffeinated options.
This product is made from regular coffee beans that have been de-caffeinated up to 97%.
As a rule, this process takes place with the participation of water, organic solvents or carbon dioxide. This process does not affect the nutritional value of the drink, which cannot be said about the taste, aroma and color of decaffeinated coffee. But, as a rule, along with caffeine, the product loses bitterness and acquires a milder flavor. Minor losses of antioxidants are also possible. However, it should be understood that even so-called decaffeinated coffee may contain small doses of the substance (from 0 to 7 mg per cup). Such a drink is suitable for people with hypersensitivity to caffeine, people with certain diseases, as well as children, pregnant and lactating mothers.
Application in cosmetology
Coffee cosmetics today will not surprise anyone. And many women at home are happy to use homemade scrub from coffee grounds. But that's just one of the many ways this product can be used in home care programs.
Before sharing a few more original recipes, the skin has many of the benefits of caffeinated products. They make the skin smooth, give it a beautiful shade, prevent premature aging, loss of elasticity and the appearance of age spots. Such funds well soothe inflammation, remove dark circles under the eyes, redness. Scrubs and wraps using coffee reduce cellulite by almost 17%.
Coffee masks are also useful for hair. Caffeine stimulates their growth, prevents hair loss, makes curls more manageable and shiny. Researchers say that coffee masks can extend the life cycle of follicles by 33% and boost hair growth by up to 46%.
- Scrub. Prepared with 1 part olive oil, 2 parts black ground coffee and the same amount brown sugar. Massage in, rinse with lukewarm water and follow with moisturizer.
- Face mask. Mix equal proportions of ground coffee, honey and natural yoghurt. Keep for half an hour. This tool nourishes, moisturizes and enriches with useful components.
- Remedy for puffy eyes. Cool the coffee, soak a cotton pad with the drink and apply it to the eyelids. Keep for a few minutes, then rinse with cool water.
- To improve blood circulation. Iced coffee cubes are perfect for this, for a more noticeable effect, you should wipe your face daily.
- Hair mask. Mix 1 part ground coffee and 2 parts olive oil. Keep on hair for at least 30 minutes. This tool softens the hair, makes it shiny.
- Hair conditioner. Prepare a few shots of espresso, cool. Rinse clean, damp hair with the drink, leave for a while, and then rinse with clean water. After such a procedure, the hair is easy to comb, become soft, silky.
These are just a few examples. There are hundreds of coffee-based home cosmetics options. Create your own and be beautiful.
Coffee is an amazing drink. Some people cannot live a day without it, others are afraid of it as a most dangerous product. It is difficult to say who is more right. The truth, as you know, is in the golden mean, and a cup of coffee will certainly not harm a healthy person.