Whether you are sipping a cappuccino or enjoying an iced latte, Lisa Wingrove, RD, CSO, health care program manager at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, answers your common coffee questions.
How long has coffee been around? When did it start becoming the morning ritual to many of our daily lives?
If you love your morning brew, you have an Ethiopian goat-herder named Kaldi to thank for your joy. Legend has it that Kaldi noticed his goats becoming more energetic after eating the beans, so he took a sample to a local monastery for explanation. The abbot made the beans into a drink and found that he remained alert during long evening prayer. Word moved east, and by the 15th century commercial cultivation began in Yemen, with shipping from the port of Mocha.
This new beverage was not welcomed by all. In Venice 1615, the local clergy deemed it the “bitter invention of Satan.” However, Pope Clement VIII was asked to mediate and found the drink deeply enjoyable. With a papal seal of approval, Italy embraced coffee. In the New World coffee was not popular until the Boston Tea Party of 1773, where its consumption was seen as a patriotic duty and an affront to the British. Soldiers in the Civil War drank it for a boost of energy, and the rest is history.
What are the health benefits of drinking coffee? Is coffee good for you?
Celebrate – coffee is good for you! The active ingredient, caffeine, has been widely studied, and the consensus is that it is a healthy choice. Advice on coffee consumption used to change frequently: Older studies with negative outcomes have largely been debunked, and the World Health Organization removed coffee from its list of potential carcinogens in 2016. We now have years of research and have found that coffee may be protective in the following conditions:
- Cancers including melanoma, prostate, liver and colon cancer
- Cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, heart failure and stroke)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
What are the downsides of coffee?
While increased energy may feel good for some coffee drinkers, for others the jittery feeling or headache may be unwelcome. Sensitivity to caffeine can cause GI issues, a faster heart beat and mild nausea. Coffee in the evening can interrupt sleep – with only 7 mg caffeine, decaf is a better choice for night time.
How much coffee is too much coffee? Is coffee addictive?
Up to 400 mg of coffee each day is the recommended intake which is around four cups of brewed coffee. As a guide, the range of caffeine in a small beverage is 75 mg and a large is 150 mg. Coffee can bring a small increase in dopamine, though not enough for it to be considered addictive.
What do people like so much about coffee?
People like coffee because it is a personal pleasure and a dependable ritual that brings joy. From the aroma of the beans to the hum of brewing, it is a process that hits our senses and produces an expectation of delight. Coffee drinking is often social, and even in times of COVID-19, we can socially distance and engage in a shared experience of connection.
How do you take your coffee?
Unfortunately, I am sensitive to caffeine – I drink a decaf iced latte occasionally. Though I continue to indulge in the delicious aroma of coffee beans, and dream of a time when my caffeine hyperactivity can be managed!