I never really drank coffee until about a year ago - except for the coffee we had in Costa Rica 7 years ago…that coffee was amazing! I wasn’t a big fan of the taste and never really needed that morning kick. I was more of a green tea kind of guy.
After reading so many things about how healthy coffee is, I decided to introduce it into my diet - one cup in the morning, usually before a workout (see my evolved coffee recipe here.) Now, I love it and it’s one of the things I look forward to every morning, as many of you can probably relate to.
Drinking a moderate amount of coffee (1-3 cups a day) has been linked to several health benefits, including fat loss (1, 2), increased mental and physical performance, (3, 4) and lowering the risk of various diseases.
Do you think that cup of Starbucks’ coffee is just as healthy as a brew you can make at home? Convenient -yes, but health-wise -not even close!
Coffee is actually the largest source of antioxidants in the western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined (5) (beer is ranked 5th in the US! (5a)) But, did you know that not all coffee is created equal? In fact, there are things you can look for and do to improve the health benefits you get.
Preparation 1. Fresh Ground – Coffee contains oils that, like any other oil, can oxidize and go rancid over time. Pre-ground coffee may be rancid by the time you drink it. Buy whole beans and ground the coffee every day or at least once a week to limit the possibility of rancidity.
2. Greek Style – Greek coffee (similar to Turkish or French Press) has been shown to help protect the arteries, as well as lower your risk for diabetes and boost overall immune health. Greek coffee is made by boiling finely-ground (almost powder) coffee, rather than brewing regular course-ground coffee beans (here are directions.) The process of boiling coffee (vs brewing/filtering method) extracts much more nutrients from the coffee beans with less caffeine. Additionally, the finely-ground beans expose more surface area increasing the antioxidant extraction. I would recommend not adding sugar to keep the coffee healthy.
This style of coffee is one of the attributes to the long lives enjoyed by residents on the island of Ikaria who boast the highest rates of longevity in the world! (6)
Note: By not filtering coffee, a chemical called cafestol is maintained in the coffee which may be a potent LDL (“bad cholesterol”) stimulator. (7) This same chemical has also shown to fight colon cancer. (8)
Bean Selection 3. Dark Roast - New research found that dark roast coffee restored blood levels of the antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione more effectively than light roast coffee. The dark roast also led to a significant body weight reduction in pre-obese volunteers, whereas the light roast did not. (9) Darker roast coffee may also be easier on your stomach than lighter roast coffee. A study showed that it produces more of a chemical that helps prevent your stomach from producing excess acid. (10)
4. Single-Estate/Single-Origin Beans – Single-origin beans are pure, unblended coffees from one particular region (Guatemala, Kenya, etc.). Some companies will use coffee blends to hide low quality beans. They may also come from multiple areas, almost guaranteeing that you’ll get some moldy beans.
5. Avoid Artificial Flavoring – I had purchased a bag of regular Costa Rican coffee beans (no fancy hazelnut flavor) and looked at the ingredients which listed “artificial flavoring”. That’s a strong warning that something’s not right with regular beans. It’s so easy to just avoid artificial flavors in coffee; I don’t see a reason not to.
6. Freshly Roasted - Coffee oxidizes after it is roasted so you want the freshest you can get. I buy my beans from a local coffee shop, Bold Bean. They roast their coffee beans in house. It’s usually never more than a week old.
7. Avoid Mycotoxins - There is evidence that a majority of the coffee beans sold contain mold spores that form mycotoxins. If you suffer from brain fog, headaches or jitters after drinking your coffee, this may be why. I’ve never had this problem, so I can’t attest to it, but Dave Asprey from the Bulletproof Exec has extensive information on it. Check out this article if you want more information.
QUESTION: What do you do to make the best cup of coffee or tea?
I’d love to hear from you! Share your questions, thoughts and stories.