Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It is a brewed beverage, prepared from roasted coffee beans that come from the Coffea plant species.
The Origins Of Coffee
There are many legends about the origins of coffee, but its heritage can be traced back centuries.
The first reported discovery of coffee was within the Ethiopian plateau when a goat herder noticed his animals’ energy levels increased after eating berries from a plant.
He reported his findings, and monks at the local monastery began experimenting with the berries. They discovered that drinking a beverage made from the plant increased their energy and alertness.
Word spread about the energizing coffee drink to the Arabian Peninsula, which is where coffee production and trade began in the 15th century. (1)
The stimulating effects of coffee are mostly due to its content of caffeine, which is a central nervous system stimulant, and one of the world’s most widely used psychoactive drugs. Coffee brewed with grounds and tap water contains approximately 95 mg of caffeine per cup. (2)
Presently, coffee plants are grown worldwide in more than 70 countries, including the equatorial regions of North and South America, Southeast Asia, India, and Africa.
Coffee plants are native to:
- Tropical Africa
- Reunion in the Indian Ocean
There are many steps required to produce coffee:
- Once coffee plants are ripe, their berries are picked, processed, and dried.
- Dried coffee berries are referred to as the “beans,” which are roasted at various temperatures to induce a multitude of flavors.
- Once the coffee beans are roasted, they are ground and then brewed with hot water to produce the beverage known as coffee.
Coffee can be consumed in several different ways and has some unique properties that have the potential to promote health and wellness.
This guide of coffee for beginners will explain coffee’s health benefits and the many ways you can add it to your lifestyle.
Health Benefits Of Coffee
Not only is coffee a warm, comforting beverage; it also provides a variety of health benefits to those who drink it.
Most of coffee’s health-promoting effects are attributed to its content of powerful antioxidants, including chlorogenic, ferulic, caffeic, and n-coumaric acids, as well as melanoidins and diterpenes. These help protect your cells from damage, which may prevent inflammation and boost your immune system (3, 4).
The optimal “dosage” of coffee to promote health benefits is between 3-4 cups of coffee per day. However, some studies show drinking as few as one cup to as much as 8 cups of coffee per day to provide health benefits (5, 6).
Here are some of the potential health benefits of coffee.
Increases Energy Levels
The caffeine in coffee may help keep you energized and alert, which can, in turn, prevent sleepiness, make you more productive and improve reaction times (7).
Provides Important Nutrients
Although coffee doesn’t provide a significant amount of essential nutrients per cup, it provides trace amounts of B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and omega-6 fatty acids, which can add up especially if you drink more than one cup of joe a day (2).
Optimizes Brain Health
Drinking coffee may play a role in improving memory and reducing symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression. Further, it has been shown to lower risk of developing brain-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (7, 8).
Helps With Weight Control
Individuals who drink coffee may burn more calories throughout the day than those who don’t drink coffee. This metabolism boost may support weight loss and maintenance. Additionally, coffee is extremely low in calories, which helps maintain energy balance if you are trying to lose weight (9).
Reduces The Risk Of Chronic Illness
Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer (10).
Improves Exercise Performance
Due to caffeine’s ability to increase adrenaline levels and break down body fat, drinking coffee may have a positive impact on your endurance and time-to-exhaustion while exercising (11).
Perhaps the most important health benefit of coffee is that it can help you live longer! Some studies show that coffee drinkers have a lower overall risk of death compared to those who don’t drink coffee (12).
It is worth mentioning that most studies conducted on coffee intake have been observational. These don’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Whether or not you experience benefits from drinking coffee will depend case-by-case.
Is Drinking Coffee Safe?
Some people are highly sensitive to caffeine, in that consuming it makes them excessively anxious and interrupts their sleep.
Further, certain populations may be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of caffeine:
- Pregnant and lactating women
- Children and adolescents
- Those with underlying heart or mental health conditions.
The effects of caffeine also have the potential to become addictive. Abusing or becoming dependent on coffee isn’t healthy. It’s best consumed in moderation, and helpful to take “breaks” from it every so often to make sure your body doesn’t become dependent on it for energy.
If you don’t already drink coffee, it’s worth having a conversation with your doctor before starting to prevent any adverse reactions with your health history, medications, or underlying conditions.
How To Start Drinking Coffee
Coffee has an acquired taste that many people are turned off by the first time they try it. There are a few different steps you can take if you want it to become a regular part of your routine.
Here’s how to start drinking coffee.