All About Coffee: Pros, Cons, Types, Nutritional Value, And More
Coffee can refer to the coffee plant, the seed or bean of the plant, or the drink made from roasted beans. Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, second only to tea.
People usually drink coffee for its short-term benefits including increased energy and alertness, but coffee consumption also has long-term benefits including a reduced risk of disease. Coffee can be a good source of vital nutrients, including vitamins B2 and B5, and antioxidants. There are some downsides to coffee when consumed in excessive amounts, including insomnia, anxiety, and digestive issues.
There are around 30 types of coffee drinks, divided roughly into black coffees, milk-based coffees, and cold or iced coffees. Some of the best-known coffee types include espresso, cappuccino, and cold brew.
Continue reading for more on the benefits, side effects, history, and culture of coffee.
What Are the Benefits of Coffee?
The benefits of coffee include short-term effects such as increased energy and alertness and long-term effects such as an increased life expectancy.
Some of the best benefits of coffee include:
- Increased energy levels
- Increased focus and alertness
- Improved physical performance
- Improved liver health
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease
- Reduced risk of colon cancer
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Longer life expectancy
- The most crucial benefit of coffee is its ability to reduce disease risk and increase longevity. Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s are all diseases with no cure. This is why it is more important to focus on preventing these illnesses from developing in the first place. Studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a 6%-8% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, 65% lower risk of Alzheimer’s, and 30-60% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease (1) (2) (3).
Related: Health Benefits of Coffee
What Are the Harmful Effects of Coffee?
The harmful effects of coffee are primarily due to caffeine. You can minimize the harmful effects by drinking decaffeinated coffee or reducing your regular coffee consumption.
Some of the most common disadvantages of drinking coffee are:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Nausea and digestive issues
- Caffeine addiction
The stimulating effect of caffeine is what many people like about drinking coffee, but it can have adverse effects in large doses. One cup of coffee might make you alert, but too much coffee will lead to anxiety and insomnia. Caffeine doesn’t just affect your mind but also your body. Caffeine stimulates the heart to cause an increased heart rate and the nervous system to create increased blood pressure.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine, such as children, older people, or anyone with a genetic predisposition. Pregnant women should avoid coffee as the caffeine will reach the fetus through the bloodstream.
The oils in a coffee can also cause an increase in bad cholesterol (4). These oils are present in both regular and decaffeinated coffee. If you have high cholesterol levels, you should switch to a brew method that uses paper filters, such as pour-over coffee.
What Are the Nutrients in Coffee?
Coffee contains many beneficial nutrients for your health and wellbeing, including protein, vitamins, and minerals.
100 g of brewed coffee contains the following nutrients:
- 120 mg protein
- 2 mg calcium
- 49 mg potassium
- 3 mg magnesium
- 3 mg phosphorus
- 2 mg sodium
- 0.1 mg vitamin B2
- 0.2 mg vitamin B3
- 0.3 mg vitamin B5
The essential nutrients in coffee are vitamin B2 and vitamin B5 because they contribute the most to your daily vitamin requirements. A 6 oz cup of coffee will provide you with 10% of your daily requirements of vitamin B2 and 9% of your daily requirements of vitamin B5 (5). Vitamin B2 is essential for eye and liver health, while vitamin B5 helps the body to create red blood cells.
Related: Nutritional Value of Coffee
What Are the Types of Coffee?
The types of coffee are the different ways that coffee beans can be prepared as a drink.
Some of the most common types of coffee are:
- Espresso – concentrated coffee produced by forcing water through ground coffee at high pressure.
- Drip coffee – also known as filter coffee, involves slowly dripping water over coffee grounds in an automated coffee maker.
- Pour over coffee – created by slowly pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a pour over brewer.
- Instant coffee – coffee that has been brewed, then freeze-dried to create dissolvable coffee crystals. Also known as coffee powder.
- Cappuccino – an espresso coffee topped with equal parts hot milk and milk foam.
- Latte – an espresso coffee topped with hot milk and a small amount of milk foam.
- Cold brew coffee – coffee that has been brewed by steeping coffee grounds in cold water, usually over a period of 12-16 hours.
- Iced coffee – hot coffee that is chilled before serving, or served over ice.
- Turkish coffee – finely ground coffee boiled together with water to create a thick, concentrated coffee. Often served sweet.
The types of coffee are usually divided into black coffees, milk-based coffees, iced or cold coffees, and unique coffees. There are considered to be 30 main types of coffee that are well known and commonly sold in cafes or made at home. However, countless coffee types are prepared in different parts of the world, using different brewing methods and ingredients.
Related: What are the Different Kinds of Coffee Drinks?
What Are the Effects of Coffee on Humans?
The effects of coffee on humans can be both positive and negative, depending on the quantities consumed. Coffee has many benefits, including increased energy, reduced risk of some diseases, and increased life expectancy. Yet, some of the adverse effects of coffee include insomnia, anxiety, and nausea.
Is coffee harmful to your health? No, not if it is consumed in the correct amounts and without too many additives. According to dietitian Chloe Paddison:
“Coffee can be very beneficial, unless we are adding loads of sugar and abusing the frequency.”
What Is the Ideal Coffee Consumption for Humans?
The ideal coffee consumption for humans depends on caffeine content. The recommended daily intake of regular coffee is 4-5 cups per day, which will provide you with a maximum of 400 mg of caffeine (6). Espresso has more concentrated caffeine content, so the ideal consumption is approximately 5 ounces per day. There is no maximum recommendation for decaffeinated coffee, but too much decaf may cause stomach problems.
Related: How Much Coffee is Too Much? The Truth About Caffeine in Coffee
The vitamins and minerals in coffee can benefit your health, but caffeine also has some harmful effects caused. The ideal amount of coffee will optimize the benefits of coffee while avoiding consuming too much caffeine.
What Are Coffee-Related Things?
There are many coffee-related things that you can use for processing, brewing, and serving coffee. The essential piece of equipment for brewing coffee is a coffee maker. The different coffee makers include espresso machines, drip coffee machines, French presses, percolators, Moka pots, and pour-over brewers.
To make coffee with an espresso machine, you might need accessories such as a tamper, tamping mat, knock box, or milk frothing jug. You might use accessories to make coffee with a pour-over brewer: a gooseneck kettle, thermometer, paper filters, and digital scale.
If you want to process your coffee at home, you need a coffee roaster and a coffee grinder. The different accessories for serving coffee include espresso cups, latte glasses, coffee mugs, thermal mugs, travel mugs, and coffee and creamer sets.
What Is a Coffee Machine?
A coffee machine is an appliance used to make coffee, but we typically use the term to refer to automatic drip coffee makers. The first coffee machine was the Wigomat, invented in Germany in 1954 by Gottlob Widmann. The coffee machine was made famous in the US by the Mr. Coffee brand in the 1970s.
Coffee machines are designed to replicate the pour-over method of brewing. The benefits of an automatic drip machine are:
- The convenience.
- The ability to brew large batches of coffee.
- The fact that it doesn’t require any brewing skills.
A coffee machine usually consists of a water reservoir, a filter basket, a carafe, and a warming plate.
The two main types of coffee machines are those with a glass carafe and warming plate or those that have a thermal carafe and no warming plate. Another type of coffee maker includes a built-in coffee grinder.
What Are the Best Coffee Machine Brands?
The best coffee machine brands make products with excellent build quality, are easy to use, and produce an excellent cup of coffee.
Dutch brand Technivorm creates well-engineered coffee machines which successfully replicate the manual pour-over process. Breville has a reputation for durable coffee makers that include innovative features. Ninja coffee machines have versatile functions to brew a wide range of coffee drinks.
What Are the Best Coffee Machines?
The best coffee machines have been certified by the SCA (Speciality Coffee Association).
The Technivorm Moccamaster KBT has a great aesthetic appeal and produces an excellent cup of coffee. The Breville Precision Brewer offers good programmability and temperature control. The Ninja Speciality Coffee Maker allows you to brew a wide range of coffees, including milk-based drinks and iced coffee.
What Is a Coffee Grinder?
A coffee grinder allows you to grind your beans as you brew rather than pre-ground coffee. The two main types of coffee grinders are blade and burr. A blade grinder chops coffee beans into small pieces using rotating blades, and blade grinders are always electric. A burr grinder crushes the roasted coffee beans between two burrs, either ceramic or steel. Burr grinders can be either manual or electric.
The benefit of a coffee grinder is that your coffee will have a much better taste by using freshly ground beans. A coffee grinder also allows you to select the grind size best suited to your brewing method.
What Are the Best Coffee Grinders?
The best coffee grinders are burr grinders, which give a more consistent grind than blade grinders. Electric burr grinders are faster and easier to use than manual burr grinders, but manual grinders are better for grinding small quantities of beans.
The Baratza Virtuoso Plus uses commercial-quality stainless steel burrs and offers great consistency across 40 grind settings. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is a versatile grinder with 60 different grind size options. The Rancilio Rocky is one of the best grinders for use with espresso and has a powerful motor for grinding large quantities of beans.
Related: Best Coffee Grinders
What Is a Coffee Mug?
A coffee mug is the traditional serving vessel for drip coffee, compared to cafe-style drinks in espresso cups or latte glasses. As well as being essential for drinking your coffee, some coffee mugs can also keep your coffee warm, make your coffee more portable, or simply provide a way to express your style.
What Are the Best Coffee Mugs?
The best coffee mugs are the ones that suit your serving needs as well as your budget and personal style.
Home Grounds recommends the Contigo Autoseal West Loop Mug. This mug is made from double-walled stainless steel, so it will help to keep your coffee warm for hours. The KeepCup is perfect for anyone who wants to reduce the number of disposable coffee cups they use. The Yeti Rambler tumbler has a durable construction ideal for camping or hiking.
Related: Best Coffee Mugs
What Is a Coffee Bar?
A coffee bar is a space in your home set aside for making coffee, usually in the kitchen or dining room. The exact design will depend on your existing space, your tastes, how much coffee gear you have, and your budget. The function of a coffee bar is to provide storage for your coffee maker, coffee beans, coffee cups, and coffee grinder and provide a dedicated space to prepare your cup of coffee.
The benefit of a coffee bar is that you don’t need to gather all of your equipment each time you want to make a cup of coffee. Everything you need is in one place, and it also creates a decorative space that shows off your style.
What Are the Best Coffee Bar Ideas?
The best coffee bar ideas need to fit within your home space, suit your existing decor, and fit within your budget. The simplest coffee bar idea involves using a section of existing counter space, but you can also build coffee bars into cabinets or closets. If you don’t have any space, one coffee bar idea is to use a drinks cart. Common coffee bar decor styles include minimalist, industrial, retro, and shabby chic.
What Is a Coffee Table?
A coffee table is a low table that’s designed to sit in front of your sofa or the middle of a seating area. Coffee tables were originally designed to place tea or coffee cups, but today they are used for many more items, including books, magazines, and remote controls.
What Are the Best Coffee Tables?
The best coffee tables need to be suitable for the room and your sofa and be durable and easy to clean. Square or rectangular coffee tables provide more space for coffee cups, but round or oval coffee tables are easier to walk around. Wood is a common choice for coffee bales, but hot cups can damage the surface. Coffee tables with a marble top are highly durable, but they can be expensive and heavy. Coffee tables should be 2-4 inches lower than the seat of the sofa and about two-thirds of the length.
How Is Coffee Grown?
Coffee is grown in tropical and subtropical climates, usually in the areas between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The two main species of coffee are Arabica, which is grown at higher altitudes, and Robusta, which grows at lower altitudes. The coffee plant is a shrub that produces coffee seeds (beans) after 3-5 years of age.
The stages of coffee growing are:
- Coffee seeds are planted in beds covered with straw and compost
- The seeds are watered and protected from harsh sunlight
- Once the coffee plants reach 8-16 inches they are ready to be moved
- The coffee seedlings are transplanted into the coffee fields
- Plants are trimmed annually to keep them manageable
- After 2-3 years, the coffee plant will produce flowers for the first time
- The coffee flowers will die within 1-10 days
- Coffee cherries begin to develop 2-4 months after flowering
- Coffee cherries ripen after a further 4 months
- Coffee beans are harvested and sent for processing
After the first year of flowering, coffee plants will continue to produce coffee cherries for up to 30 or 40 years, depending on the varietal.
What Is a Coffee Bean?
A coffee bean or cherry is the fruit of the plant. The coffee beans that we buy for making coffee are coffee cherries that have been processed and roasted, and green coffee beans are beans that have been processed but not roasted.
The different types of coffee beans relate to the type of coffee plant that they come from. One of the main species of coffee plants is Arabica, which is considered to have a better flavour profile and is used in single-origin coffees. The other species of the coffee plant is Robusta, which is higher in caffeine and often cheaper as it is easier to grow. Robusta is more often used in coffee blends or to make instant coffee. Another type of bean known as Peaberry can come from any coffee plant. The Peaberry bean is a mutation where only one seed grows inside the fruit instead of two. Peaberry beans makeup around 5% of any coffee crop and can have a more complex flavour profile.
You can eat coffee beans when first harvested from the plant. They are said to taste like watermelon or peach, but people don’t often eat them as they have very little flesh and large seeds (the coffee beans). You could also eat processed and roasted coffee beans. Roasted beans are often garnished on desserts or drinks. Coffee beans can also be coated in chocolate and sold as candy.
What is the Relationship Between Caffeine and Coffee?
The relationship between caffeine and coffee depends on the type of coffee beans, the roast level of the coffee beans, and how the coffee is brewed.
Regular brewed coffee contains 37 mg of caffeine per 100g, making the caffeine content less than 0.04%. Compare this with whole coffee beans, which contain around 1.1-2.2% caffeine.
Related: What is Caffeine?
The optimum intake for adults is 400 mg of caffeine per day, equating to 4-5 cups of regular brewed coffee.
The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee varies depending on the brew method. For example, 100g of espresso contains 212 mg of caffeine, or 0.21% caffeine.
What Are the Best Coffee Brands?
The best coffee brands will depend on the type of coffee maker you are using, the flavours you want to experience in your coffee, and whether you have any special requirements, such as decaffeinated coffee. The best coffee brands roast in small batches to order and ship immediately to ensure the beans’ freshness. The best coffee brands will also source their coffee sustainably.
Koa Coffee specializes in Hawaiian grown coffee, including Kona coffee, which was voted the best by Forbes magazine. Volcanica sources some of the most premium beans globally, including Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Sumatra Mandheling, and Tanzanian Peaberry. Lifeboost Coffee aims to make coffee as healthy and sustainable for the planet as possible, with organic coffees, low acid, free of mycotoxins, and fair trade.
Related: Best Coffee Brands
What Is the History of Coffee?
The history of coffee is surrounded by mystery but is thought to have begun around 700 AD. The legend says that a young goatherd named Kaldi saw his goats become energized after eating the coffee plant beans and spreading the word among his people. Of course, this cannot be confirmed, but we know that coffee originally grew in Ethiopia and was cultivated by locals for many centuries.
By the 1400s, people were cultivating coffee in Yemen. And by the 1500s, the cultivation of coffee had reached Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. Coffee was first introduced to Europe in 1526 when the Turkish invaded Hungary, where it quickly spread to Austria, Malta and Italy, and beyond. The first coffeehouse in Europe opened in Venice in 1645. By the end of the 1600s, there were coffee houses in Austria, the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands.
Coffee plants were brought from Yemen to India in the 1670s, which established the country’s coffee industry. In other parts of Asia, the Dutch had introduced coffee. They brought coffee seedlings to Sri Lanka in 1616 and later established plantations in Indonesia. They also brought coffee to Japan through trade.
Coffee was first taken to the Americas in 1720 and was first cultivated in Martinique, Haiti, and Mexico. In what we now call the United States, coffee was known, but most of the population preferred to drink tea. After the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party in 1773, coffee became the drink of choice.
Related: History of Coffee
What Is the Etymology of the Word Coffee?
The etymology of the word “coffee” is debated. It is thought to have entered English from either the Dutch “koffie” or Italian “caffe” in the late 1500s. These words are derived from the Turkish term “kahveh,” which comes from the Arabic “qahwah.” Qahwah did not just refer to coffee but any stimulating drink, including wine.
The spelling and pronunciation of coffee in English have changed over the centuries. Former versions of the word include cahve, kauhi, coffey and caufee.
The word coffee can refer to the plant, the seeds or beans of the plant, the ground beans, or the drink prepared from the beans.
The English word for coffee is very similar to its equivalents in other languages, such as kof fie in Dutch, Kaffee in German, kopi in Malay, and café in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
What is the Culture of Coffee?
Coffee culture refers to the traditions and social behaviour that have developed around the consumption of coffee. Coffee culture varies significantly from country to country and has changed throughout history.
Coffee culture in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, is based on ritual. Coffee preparation involves a ceremony that includes hand-roasting the beans, used when catching up with friends or visitors. In Italy, coffee culture is based on espresso, which is consumed as a quick pick-me-up throughout the day. Swedes indulge in what’s known as “fika,” a time to take a break from work and enjoy a coffee and a pastry. In the US, the culture of coffee is geared toward speed, convenience, and quantity, with many people favouring coffee to go from large chain cafes. At the same time, the third wave of coffee focuses on high-quality specialty beans and the preparation of coffee as an art form.
What Is Coffee Processing?
Coffee processing refers to how the beans are prepared for use after farmers harvest them. Coffee processing removes the outer coffee cherry from the coffee bean, which they can then roast in preparation for brewing.
There are three main methods of coffee processing: natural, washed, and honey.
- Natural processing involves leaving the coffee cherry intact while the beans are left in the sun to ferment, after which the producers remove the fruit.
- In washed-processing, also known as wet processing, the cherry is removed before fermentation.
- Honey-processing is a blend of natural and washed processing, where farmers only remove part of the coffee cherry before fermentation.
Related: Steps of Coffee Processing
How is the Coffee Market and Consumption in the World?
The global coffee market is valued at US$465.9 billion for the year 2020 (7). This figure includes the trade market for coffee beans and the retail sale of coffee products, including coffee bands, ground coffee, instant coffee, coffee pods, and ready-to-drink coffee products. The market value for the trade of coffee beans alone is valued at US$102.2 billion for the year 2020. The trade market for coffee beans is expected to grow by 4.28% for the years 2022-2027 (8).
The biggest producers of coffee for export are Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, and India. Brazil accounts for around one-third of the market share, producing 2.6 million tonnes of green coffee in 2016 compared to Vietnam’s next most prominent, 1.65 million tonnes.
The biggest coffee company in the world is Starbucks, with more than 30,000 outlets worldwide in 2021. Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Hortons, Costa Coffee, and McCafe are the other top five coffee companies.
How Is Coffee Used Within Pharmacology?
Coffee is not used within pharmacology, but caffeine is. Caffeine was discovered by Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, who first isolated the chemical from coffee beans in 1819. Caffeine is often added to medications to improve painkillers’ effectiveness, including aspirin and acetaminophen. It is one of the critical ingredients in diet pills as it increases metabolism. Caffeine citrate can help improve breathing problems for premature babies or young children recovering from surgery.
The caffeine used in medication does not come from coffee. Extracting caffeine from natural sources such as coffee or tea is too expensive to make it a viable option, and Medical-grade caffeine is synthesized in laboratories.
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- Eskelinen, M. H. (2010). Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20182054/
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- West, M. (2021, February 16). Coffee and cholesterol: Risks, benefits, and more. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/coffee-and-cholesterol
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