A Deep Dive Into Your Morning Cup of Joe

Photo by: ericdelmar@ comcast.net ©Eric Delmar

ericdelmar@ comcast.net, Eric Delmar

Most people who drink coffee do so because they enjoy the flavor of a freshly brewed cup — or the boost it can bring. An increasing number of studies have sweetened the pot with data suggesting that drinking coffee may have health benefits including a lower risk of cardiovascular and liver diseases, diabetes and overall mortality. Thankfully, the technology site Ars Technica has parsed the science behind a good cup of coffee.

The key healthful components in your morning cup include caffeine, which improves perception and alertness and may boost metabolism and long-term memory; chlorogenic acids, which may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects; trigonelline, which may help guard against brain damage and cancer cell progression, battle bacteria and reduce blood sugar and cholesterol; and kahweol and cafestol, which may carry additional cancer prevention benefits, yet elevate cholesterol, the site notes.

For those looking to maximize the benefits of these elements, here are a few other interesting things to know:

1: Most coffee is made from either Arabica beans, which have more trigonelline, kahweol and cafestol, or Robusta beans, which have more caffeine and chlorogenic acids.

2: A light or dark roast won’t mean much difference in caffeine content, but a darker roast can reduce chlorogenic acids. “So, for a bigger helping of the acids stick with a light roast,” Ars Technica advises.

3: The best water to brew coffee with is, nope, not distilled water, but actually “hard” water,” which has been shown to contain calcium and magnesium ions that help retain coffee’s flavor-boosting compounds.

4: The longer you grind your beans, the finer they are and the higher your cup’s caffeine content.

5: As for brewing method, Ars Technica observes that, although espresso machines provide the most-concentrated caffeine doses, the standard small portion size may diminish the return on investment. “For more caffeine for your buck, you might want to go with quantity over espresso-quality,” the site suggests, citing research indicating that, if you used the same beans in your drip coffee machine, you’d get less caffeine per 100 milliliters of coffee, but because the standard serving size would be bigger, you’d take in more caffeine overall.

What’s more, if you want a really healthful brew, don’t go crazy with the sugar and cream. Coffee itself doesn’t contain a lot of calories, but that other stuff can really increase the calorie content and diminish the healthiness of your morning cup or afternoon pick-me-up.

Photo courtesy of iStock

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