This article convinces us that matcha is healthier for you than coffee. With a similar caffeine content, the kick is less intense and the night sleep is intact when you drink matcha, any tea for that matter. The substance responsible for this theanine, which balances the stimulant effect of caffeine. The problem in my case, is that I don’t drink the coffee for the caffeine, I just love to drink coffee as a ritual. Or so I like to think. Decaf is not an option, because the taste is horrible.
Matcha has a pretty exciting combination of benefits and protections…
I know a lot of you love your coffee—in the morning and all throughout the day. But that’s part of the problem. Caffeine is the most abused stimulant across the world. Consuming too much caffeine and consuming it at the wrong times wreaks havoc with our sleep.
If you’re reluctant to consider scaling back your coffee or switching to another daily pick-me up drink, hear me out. Matcha has a pretty exciting combination of benefits and protections you’ll want to understand.
The big sleep-related advantage that matcha has over coffee is L-theanine. Tea is a potent source of L-theanine, and matcha has a substantially higher concentration of L-theanine than regular green or black tea.
I’ve written before about the benefits of L-theanine for sleep. L-theanine promotes both alertness and calm at the same time. It can put you in a state of wakeful relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety while at the same time improving focus and concentration.
How does L-theanine accomplish all this?
To be clear: consuming caffeine and drinking coffee aren’t exclusively bad for you. To the contrary. Coffee consumption is linked to a number of health benefits, from lowering diabetes risk to reducing risks for some cancers, to improving liver function and protecting brain health. Coffee is rich in antioxidants, including the same polyphenols found in matcha and other kinds of tea.
But the benefits of coffee tend to come from very moderate consumption, about 1 or 2 cups a day. (Those are regular size 8-ounce cups, not the jumbo kind.) Going beyond this moderate coffee intake often brings about the side effects I’ve described above, along with a rising tolerance for caffeine—meaning, the body needs more caffeine to get the daily alertness and energy producing effects.
Some quick tips for keeping matcha sleep friendly
There’s a lot to like about the benefits and protections that matcha may offer. But it’s important to remember: matcha contains a stimulant in the form of caffeine. Although its stimulant effects seem to be reduced in matcha, thanks to the presence of L-theanine, they don’t disappear. It’s a smart, sleep-friendly strategy to use matcha thoughtfully, in moderation, and at the right times.
When is the best times to drink matcha? To take advantage of its alerting, focusing effects, don’t drink your cup of matcha right when you get up. When you first rise, your body’s own cortisol is already kicked into high gear, helping make you alert and energized. Wait a couple of hours, when your cortisol levels are making the first of a series of dips throughout the day.
I also recommend sticking to a mid-afternoon cut off time for any caffeine, including the caffeine in matcha. The same rules apply to coffee!
Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM
The Sleep Doctor™
Matcha is a form of green tea that has been ground into a fine powder. You might recognize matcha from its intensely bright green color. The word matcha comes from the Japanese words for “ground” and “tea.” Matcha is derived from the plant Camellia sinesis, which is the source of many green teas and other teas. But matcha is grown and processed differently.
The practice of cultivating and preparing matcha is nearly 1000 years old. Unlike plants grown for other types of tea, the Camellia sinesis plants grown to make matcha are covered for several weeks of their growth cycle. Growing the tea leaves in shade, rather than under sun, causes the plants to step up their production of chlorophyll. This overproduction of chlorophyll contributes to higher concentrations of bio-chemical compounds in matcha, including polyphenols. Polyphenols are powerful, disease-fighting agents found in plants. In the human body, polyphenols appear to serve many functions that protect health and may diminish the risk of disease.
When the plants are ready for harvest, its leaves are picked and ground into the powder that becomes matcha. Unlike regular tea, which is steeped with hot water and strained, matcha is combined with water (or milks) and added to food in cooking. Matcha delivers a higher dose of nutrients and beneficial compounds for a couple of reasons:
Is caffeine addictive or not? Most of us think that caffeine is addictive because we can’t start our morning without it. So from this perspective, common sense says that yes, coffee creates a mild dependency. However compared to other drugs that enhance dopamine signaling, its effects are insignificant. This is why caffeine is one of the stimulants that are not on the list of controlled substances. OK, don’t try to quit cold turkey though, because that mild addiction will ruin your day.
Most adults in the U.S. use caffeine, whether in coffee, soda, energy drinks, or chocolate. Many are also familiar with the effects of suddenly drinking less coffee than usual: tiredness, headaches, insomnia, and other symptoms. And many people talk about being “addicted” to their morning coffee or energy drink! But is caffeine truly addictive?
It’s all about the dopamine
The world’s caffeine obsession can be described as a “dependency” (because when you have less of it, you go through a mild “withdrawal,” with the symptoms listed above), but it is not an addiction.
It is true that—like many drugs—caffeine enhances dopamine signaling in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that helps control movement, motivation, and emotions, so enhanced dopamine signaling makes a person feel more awake and alert. Because caffeine produces that alert feeling, it’s classified as a stimulant.
But wait—some prescription drugs and the dangerous drug methamphetamine (“meth”) and MDMA (ecstasy or Molly) are also types of stimulants. So what’s the difference?
While caffeine produces a small rise in dopamine, it does not cause the large surge that unbalances the reward circuits in the brain and is necessary for an addiction. So even though the word “addiction” is often used casually, caffeine is not addictive (scientifically speaking).
How do you define addiction?
NIDA defines addiction as the uncontrolled (or “compulsive”) use of a substance even when it causes negative consequences for the person using it. Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA’s director, recently talked to Voice of America about the real definition of addiction.
So the difference between caffeine dependence and addiction to drugs like meth is that even a person who loves to drink coffee can do without it, deal with the headaches and irritability that result, and not engage in destructive (or self-destructive) behavior.
Too much caffeine—like too much anything—can still be harmful. But even if you just gotta have that energy drink, know that your love of caffeine doesn’t compare to a real drug addiction that can change your life forever, in very bad ways.
Heavy coffee drinker? Don’t hesitate and take that big sip. This will be very interesting!
Large Cancer Study Has Good News For Daily Coffee Drinkers
Coffee has been the subject of dozens of studies, some focusing on its health benefits, others on its potential health risks. Though we know the polyphenols found in coffee help promote good health, there’s no clear word on whether coffee is a health risk if consumed frequently. A new large cancer study involving 300,000 people may have the answer.
The study’s lead researcher Jue-Sheng Ong said:
There was some inconclusive evidence about colorectal cancer, where those who reported drinking a lot of coffee had a slightly lower risk of developing cancer, but conversely examination of data from those people with a higher genetic predisposition to drink more coffee seemed to indicate a greater risk of developing the disease.
Ultimately, the study indicates that modifying how much coffee you drink every day likely won’t have an impact on whether you develop cancer.
Share your thoughts about this great discovery down in the comment!
I used to drink a lot of coffee. I mean a lot of strong coffee. People would look at my cup and then shudder: “How can you drink that?” Well, maybe I have the CYP1A2 gene, or maybe I was younger. Fact is, I can’t drink that much coffee anymore. Science tells us now how much coffee is too much. We also have a healthier alternative…
Just when you think we’ve gotten to the bottom of this whole “coffee is good for you” thing, a new team of researchers fearlessly plumb the depths even further to find an as-yet-undiscovered cavern of coffee healthfulness. In a new study of nearly 350,000 participants, researchers from the Australian Centre for Precision Health found the number of cups of coffee you can drink per day before the risks outweigh the benefits. That number is five.
The University of South Australia’s (UniSA) has revealed that drinking six or more coffees a day can increase the risk of heart disease up to 22 per cent.
According to the Heart Foundation cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death, with one person dying from the disease every 12 minutes.
UniSA Researchers Dr Ang Zhou and Professor Elina Hyppönen of the Australian Centre for Precision Health say its new research confirms the point at which excess caffeine can cause high blood pressure, a precursor to heart disease.
This is the first time a limit has been placed on a safe coffee consumption and cardiovascular health.
“Coffee is the most commonly consumed stimulant in the world – it wakes us up, boosts our energy, and helps us focus – but people are always asking how much is too?” says Elina.
“Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee, you might feel a little jittery, irritable or perhaps even nauseas – that’s because caffeine helps your body work fast and harder, but it is also likely to suggest that you may have reached you limit for the time being.
Of course, too much of a good thing can lead to negative conditions. Another team of researchers focused on finding out how much coffee will be consumed for the health conditions to outweigh the benefits.
According to new research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, excess caffeine can lead to high blood pressure, which, in turn can cause heart disease. Findings show that drinking six or more cups of coffee every day increases the risk of heart disease by up to 22 percent.
“In order to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy blood pressure, people must limit their coffees to fewer than six cups a day-based on our data six was the tipping point where caffeine started to negatively affect cardiovascular risk,” said Elina Hyppönen of the Australian Centre for Precision Health in a news release.
The research team used UK Biobank data of 346,077 individuals aged 37 to 73 years. They found also found that despite the ability of the caffeine-metabolizing gene CYP1A2 to process caffeine better and more quickly, it doesn’t mean that individuals who carry this gene can consume more coffee without detrimental effects.
Well, you might be able to drink an even healthier beverage with less health risks by replacing your espresso with tasty dark brew made from pure cacao powder. But maybe coffee is not about drinking more, but drinking better coffee. And NO, I am not talking about the most expensive coffee in the world here. I am talking about decent third wave coffee beans and preparation.
The person behind this idea is Elina Luzi, the founder of a company called Live Better, the maker of a cocao espresso making machine called the Chokkino. I met Luzi last week in Milan at Seeds & Chips, where she not only brewed up a cup of cacao espresso for me (definitely tasty), but also told me why she wants to replace the coffee bean with cacao.
“Coffee is a fantastic beverage, but drinking too much may lead to stress and other problems like anxiety and insomnia,” said Luzi. With the Chokkino, she says they are returning cacao to its roots as a “functional food” where it has served as a powerful drink for thousands of years.
I agree with that, and I love espresso blends, but sometimes they contain way too much caffeine, and that reduces my daily coffee intake.
According to Luzi, the Chokkino, which has only shipped so far in her home country of Italy, is currently available in about 350 cafes and restaurants today. One of those locations is the Bologna airport, where I saw a sign advertising Chokkino beverages as I rushed towards my gate.
Not only are cacao beans packed full of magnesium and antioxidants, but they trigger three neurotransmitters that are associated with elevating mood and mental well being: serotonin, dopamine, phenylethylamine.
For some of us it’s a morning ritual. We can’t be without it, or else the pipes get clogged and the day is ruined. Why does coffee make us poop? […]
We’ve all been there: You’ve just finished your morning oat milk latte when you start to feel some…uh, movement below decks. You need to go to the bathroom. Like, right now. (If this doesn’t sound familiar, you’re just a liar.)
Basically, coffee and pooping seem to go together like vibrators and orgasms—while it’s not a prerequisite to make BMs happen, it certainly seems to speed the process up so to speak. While obviously regular BMs are good for your health…what is it about coffee that makes you head to the toilet ASAP, and does it happen to everyone? Here’s what the experts have to say.
There are actually a lot of things at play here. For starters, the caffeine in coffee causes your intestinal muscles to contract, says Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, which helps…ahem, move things along.
However, it’s not just a caffeine thing—there are compounds in coffee itself that can make you poop. “Coffee, both regular and decaffeinated, can stimulate the movements of the distal (the lower end of the large intestine) colon,” says Kate Scarlata, RDN, LDN, a FODMAP and IBS expert. Specifically, Jones says chlorogenic acids and N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamides (try saying that five times fast) both stimulate the production of stomach acid, which helps move food through your digestive system.
“Coffee stimulates the release of two hormones, gastrin (released in the stomach) and cholecystokinin (released from the small intestine),” adds Scarlata. “Gastrin increases colonic movements and cholecystokinin releases bile and digestive enzymes, initiating the digestive process.”
If that wasn’t enough digestive action for you, Jones says the warm liquid of coffee widens blood vessels in digestive system to increase blood flow and GI activity.
Plus, coffee is an even better laxative if sipped bright and early. “After a full night of rest, the first thing you put in your mouth (for many of us, this is coffee!) will jump start the digestive process via the gastrocolic reflex,” Scarlata says. The gastrocolic response is a physiological response that stimulates muscle contraction down through the intestines, and it happens whenever you eat or drink. But combining that with coffee’s above-mentioned digestive properties and you’ve got quite a BM in the works.
How long might it take to cause the effect? “For some individuals, they can be heading to the bathroom 5 minutes after having their coffee and for others it may be an hour. Everyone responds differently,” says Jones. Even just one cup of coffee can do the trick, Scarlata says.
Everyone responds differently to coffee, but its poop-inducing potential could affect anyone. “About 30 percent of people note that coffee makes them poop, [and] more women than men,” Scarlata says. Why? Women are more sensitive to rectal distention, which can trigger the urge to ~go~, and are more commonly diagnosed with IBS, which can cause more of a reaction to that cup of java, too.
If you use Splenda (or any artificial sweetener) or drink cow’s milk and have a lactose intolerance, you could have a more intense reaction to coffee, adds Jones. The same goes for any preexisting GI condition besides IBS, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, as these diseases may lead to diarrhea, she says.
The takeaway? Drink your coffee and enjoy (perhaps with a little food or later in the day), but if it’s making you poop too much, take it back a notch. And skip the artificial sweetener and milk if you’re sensitive. Oh, and you can check this other article on the subject, it’s interesting.
Data recently featured in the Journal of Psychopharmacology tells us that caffeine addiction is not a real thing. Caffeine withdrawal, according to the study is no consistent across participants and the conclusion was that caffeine withdrawal symptoms are caused by expectations. So it is all in my head? I call this BS, (acronym for bad science). Are they telling me that the throbbing headache when I stop drinking coffee is just imaginary? Hmm…
Click here to view original web page at www.theladders.com
Data that was recently featured in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, add to burgeoning research on the effects of caffeine withdrawal. The researchers recruited individuals that said they typically drink at least three cups of coffee a day (or 270 mg). Even though the participants chosen for the study were defined as heavy caffeine users, three cups are actually the national average.
The study began by indiscriminately assigning individuals to one of two groups. Over the course of five days, each group was allowed to drink two cups of coffee a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, with the amount of caffeine diminishing gradually over the course of the study period. On the first day, both groups received 300 mgs of caffeine, on the second day their caffeine ration was reduced to 200 mg, then 100 mg on the third day and 0 mg on the fourth and fifth days. The only difference between each group was the information they were given. The first group, called the “Open Reduction group,” received accurate quantitative information regarding their caffeine rations, while the second group, called “The Deceptive Reduction group,” was told that they received the full 300mg of caffeine for the first three days.
Using a Caffeine Withdrawl Symptom Questionaire, researchers were able to compare the purported effects of both groups. The questionnaire is informed by a 23-item scale, determining discernable symptoms like fatigue, drowsiness, low alertness, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, low sociability/motivation to work, nausea/upset stomach, flu-like symptoms and headache.
The authors report, “The Open Reduction group reported more pronounced caffeine withdrawal symptoms than the Deceptive Reduction group on the days with the greatest discrepancy between actual dose and informed dose, indicating a nocebo effect of open versus deceptive reductions.”
Despite being given identical doses of caffeine, withdrawal symptoms varied notably between the two groups. The only problem is, there’s no real way to determine which participants were responding more accurately. The only categorical takeaway is that expectation plays a huge role in how the amount of caffeine we are or aren’t consuming is impacting our wellness. The Open Reduction group that was given accurate information reported withdrawal systems that fell in line with the steadily decreasing dosage but was that merely because they were previously aware of the outcome they were expected to experience (known as the non-placebo effect)? The Deceptive Reduction group was most likely biased by reason of the placebo effect.
The authors wrote, “These results suggest that awareness of dose reductions during a dose taper can result in a nocebo withdrawal effect and that removing this awareness can reduce withdrawal. This has important implications for standard supervised dose-tapering practice, where patients are aware of the timing and magnitude of dose reductions.”
This is an old debate that people can’t set straight. Anecdotal evidence says that dark roasts coffee give you more caffeine in the cup. Is this true though? Chemistry says that the amount of caffeine is constant, regardless of the roast levels. If anything, caffeine will likely burn at higher roasting temperatures. At the same time people notice a considerable difference between the jitters you get from a light and a dark roast.
It turns out they are both right and wrong. Dark roasts will make a more caffeinated beverage, but not because they contain more caffeine. Read on to find out.
Does Dark Roast Coffee Really Have More Caffeine?
When it comes to coffee, there’s something everyone’s talking about and nobody is talking about: caffeine. For people who drink and enjoy coffee, caffeine is on the mind and a wonderful tasting cup is a big bonus. For the folks who work in the coffee industry, we tend to want to think we’re in the deliciousness business and a part of a beautiful value chain, not that we’re administering legal drugs in liquid form. Of course, great coffee can be both things, but as is so often true about the common and ubiquitous, very little is known about the science of caffeine consumption, and there are many misconceptions around it.
Juliet Han has been pulling double-duty as the head roaster at Blue Bottle while also continuing her studies at Peralta Colleges in Oakland with a focus on science, and naturally she researches coffee whenever she can. In her just-published research paper Correlation Between Caffeine and Roast Levels Using HPLC she took on the question, “Does dark roast have more caffeine than light roast?” This is one of the most common misconceptions around coffee, and while it is something that’s been studied in the past, Han’s 15 years of varied industry experience give her a practical lens to see the question through.
Han started by considering the question and pulling it apart: Does dark roast have more caffeine than light roast? As with most questions about coffee, it depends. Even if you assume the brewing is performed consistently, when you say “more caffeine,” you’re talking about more… in what? In the cup? In the beans? In the grounds? How are you measuring the coffee? Each answer yields a different approach to the question, different scientific variables, and ultimately, different conclusions.
In her research lab, among the various tools and instruments, Han had access to an HPLC (high pressure liquid chromatography) machine, which is a common scientific tool that takes a sample and analyses it for what components are in there and in what quantities. The details of her methodology and data are in the research paper, but let’s summarize what she learned and why it matters, categorized by how we might frame the caffeine/roast question.
By the bean
One way to think about this question is: Do caffeine levels change inside the beans during roasting? On this, the science is clear: caffeine is very stable through the roasting process. You’d have to roast it past turning it into charcoal before caffeine would chemically change, beyond even the darkest of dark roasts you could find. Point is, even though the individual beans go through physical and chemical changes while it’s roasted, the amount of caffeine a bean starts with is generally the amount it ends up with. If you’re talking about individual beans, the caffeine level is the same whether it is light or dark roasted.
Of course, while this may be interesting as a bit of trivia, it’s not that relevant to our day to day coffee lives, unless you’re a coffeebeanophage, which means “person who eats whole bean coffee” and is also a word I just made up.
By the cup and weighing the grounds
Han wanted to take the variables of brewing out of the picture, so she brewed the coffee by “decoction,” which means brewing coffee by actually boiling the coffee in water. She brewed the living hell outta the coffee, extracting pretty much all the coffee that’s soluble. Boiling it for 15 minutes (as she did) is a lot, and the coffee surely tasted gross and bitter.
Coffee nerds like to weigh the coffee grounds we brew. Mass is a constant, and scoops or tablespoons give you a variable that’s imprecise and inaccurate. (Sorry, scoop lovers.) Different coffees can have very different physical characteristics, so it’s a bit misguided to think that there’s a magic brewing recipe that works all the time.
What Juliet found was that when she weighed the coffee grounds and based her calculations on that, the darker roast did in fact yield more caffeine than the lighter roast.
By the cup and by the scoop
But what if you just can’t put down that spoon or scoop? Not everyone has or wants a scale, and however imprecise scoops and spoons may be, it’s still the most common way most home coffee brewers measure their grounds. Measuring this way introduces the density of the coffee grounds into the calculations, and Han also did the calculations to see what the results were if someone used tablespoons or scoops.
I’ve gotta tell you, I love Han’s research paper. There’s a lot to love about it, but what I love most is that it inspires so many more questions and possibilities for future research.
According to this research, dark roast does in fact yield more caffeine than light roast. This is consistently what Han found across experiments, and it makes sense, though not for the reasons one might think. A darker roasted coffee is less dense, so by the bean, it has lower mass than a light roasted coffee. All other things being equal, if you grind and weigh out a certain number of grams of coffee, there are more beans involved when using dark roast. It’s no different than if we ate a pound of fresh grapes versus a pound of dried raisins—far more sugar is consumed in the dried, condensed raisin equation.
So it’s not necessarily that “dark roast has more caffeine”—caffeine is stable across roasts—but rather, dark roast is less dense. Since the caffeine is so stable, the difference mostly boils down to density.
What I think it’s interesting to note is that when you look at Han’s data, the caffeine difference between the lightest and darkest coffees was around 9% when you measured by the scoop, but about 32% when she measured by weight. That’s a big margin! While it’s the density difference between the dark and light roast coffee that gives us the difference in caffeine content, the fact that a scoop of dark roast has less mass than a scoop of light roast actually reduces the net caffeine difference in the scoops-and-spoons scenario. So while darker roast does have more caffeine, that difference is more pronounced when you measure by weight than if you’re scooping.
32% is a fairly meaningful difference. It means that 16 ounces of Han’s light roast brew would have about as much caffeine as 12 ounces of the dark roast. But when you’re thinking about how this applies to your coffee consumption, keep in mind that Juliet Han is a scientist professionally controlling her variables. Once you leave the lab and get out into the world of coffee shops and home coffeemakers (not to mention different coffees and roasters and brewing waters and brewing variables), you’re faced with the unfathomable number of factors that affect caffeine content beyond just roast level.
All in all, it appears that dark roasted coffee has more caffeine, but not for the reasons you think. That is a great bit of trivia to pull out the next time somebody brings this up at a party. “You know, dark roasted coffee has more caffeine, but not for the reasons you think!”
I can’t wait to see what other research Han and other coffee-knowledgeable scientists come up with next. Go science!
Finally, someone did some solid research on cold brew coffee.
Until this research, the “bloggers’ wisdom” was that cold brew coffee has less acidity and because of that was gentle on sensitive stomachs. The work of Fuller and Rao busted this myth by showing that the ph is the same in cold and hot brew.
Anecdotally, cold brew indeed is gentler on the stomach, but that doesn’t have to do with the acidity of coffee. Coffee is not acidic enough to cause pain. The pain is caused by other compounds in coffee, among which is caffeine, as pointed out by one of the cited blogs. (read critiqued blogs)
The research also showed that the total titratable acids content was higher in hot brew, which is why cold brew tastes milder.
One of the interesting things that surprised me was the antioxidant properties of the two. Previous research showed that the amount of Chlorogenic Acid decreases as the brewing temperature increases. Fuller and Rao’s work uncovered other antioxidants in hot brewed coffee. Their findings showed that, in fact, hot brewed coffee contains more antioxidant than cold brew.
My point is, I read the article and I couldn’t make draw a definitive conclusion. Which one is better for my health?
To be honest, I’ll probably stick to my espresso…
Cold brew coffee vs. hot brew: does brewing temperature influence health benefits?
Cold brew coffee has recently become a go-to option at coffee shops, due in part to marketing campaigns that note its smoother, less bitter taste. Not to mention that in the summer, this is a popular option when coffee lovers need their daily coffee but want to avoid the excess heat. Unlike coffee brewed relatively quickly at hot temperatures, cold brew is brewed slowly at low temperatures, with the coffee steeping longer within the water. Various health claims have been made about cold brew coffee, some by coffee enthusiasts and others by popular coffee companies, but not much is known about cold brew, and not enough information is out there yet to verify these claims.
Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA, wanted to collect some information about cold and hot brew coffees, to see if any of the claims made by bloggers, magazines, coffee companies, among others, may actually be true. They wanted to know how the acidity and antioxidant activity of cold brew coffee compared to that of traditionally brewed hot coffee. Antioxidants are compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables, that prevent a process known as oxidation. Oxidation would commonly produce compounds called free radicals, which can trigger damage to cells in the body. For this study, the researchers used a variety of pre-ground light roast coffees from Brazil, Ethiopia (Ardi and Yirgz), Colombia, Myanmar, and Mexico, all purchased from a commercial vendor.
They freshly brewed coffee for each experiment, using the same coffee to water ratio in both cold and hot brewed coffees. For cold brew, they simply added 35 grams of coffee to 350 mL of filtered water in a mason jar and brewed for 7 hours at room temperature before filtering through a paper coffee filter. For hot brew, they boiled the water, then added the same ratio of coffee grounds to water to a French press carafe and brewed for 6 minutes before filtering through the same type of paper coffee filter.
With hot brew coffee, the researchers measured the pH with a standard pH meter, and found values ranging from 4.85 (Ethiopian coffees) to 5.10 (Brazilian coffee). To determine the amount of acids in each coffee, they titrated (slowly mixed) the hot brew coffee with sodium hydroxide to pH 6 and pH 8. The amount of acids in coffee could influence the level of bitterness tasted. With this method, the Colombian coffee was found to have the highest amount of acidic compounds at both pH values, while Brazil and Myanmar coffees had the lowest.
Antioxidants were counted using an instrument called a UV-Vis spectrometer. With their method, they compared the coffee sample containing antioxidants of an unknown concentration to standards with known concentrations. The Ethiopian hot brew coffee had the most antioxidant activity, while the lowest again belonged to the Brazilian coffee.
When the researchers switched to the cold brew coffee, pH ranged from 4.96 (Ethiopian) to 5.13 (Myanmar), which was quite comparable to the hot coffee. Colombia again had the highest concentration of total titratable acids at pH 6, but the Brazilian coffee had the highest at pH 8. Of these, Ethiopian-Ardi had the highest antioxidants, and Myanmar and Ethiopian- Yirgz had the lowest.
Overall, the water temperature had a strong influence on acidity and antioxidant activity. pH for both cold and hot brew were very similar. The researchers found that while hot coffee had more acidity by the titration method than cold brew, the hot coffee also had higher antioxidant activity. While this study showed that hot brewed coffee was more acidic, the researchers suggest that these acidic compounds might be responsible for the higher antioxidant levels. For all the coffee lovers out there: more work needs to be done to assess the health benefits of drinking hot coffee compared to cold brew coffee. Scientists don’t yet know the health effects of coffee when brewed at different temperatures or times, or how the antioxidant level in cold brew influences any of the protective benefits previously known to be associated with hot brew. In the meantime, whether you enjoy your coffee brewed hot or cold, enjoy the flavor and extra boost of energy that it gives!
Next time you badly need a coffee, don’t drink it, just think about and that’s going to be enough. Smell the coffee and your experience will be even more intense. That’s a scientific study, if you think this is a joke.
For millions of us, the day begins with at least one cup of coffee to jump-start our brains into productivity. We think clearer, move faster, and interact with coworkers (also drinking coffee) like we’re meant to work together – at least for a little while.
What if we could benefit from some of those effects by simply experiencing cues that make us think of coffee? That’s the topic of a new study, the latest in the ongoing scientific fascination with our favorite legal drug.
“People often encounter coffee-related cues, or think about coffee, without actually ingesting it,” said lead author Sam Maglio, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “We wanted to see if there was an association between coffee and arousal such that if we simply exposed people to coffee-related cues, their physiological arousal would increase, as it would if they had actually drank coffee.”
The “arousal” in this case is a well-studied dynamic in which specific brain areas are activated by exposure to stimuli. Drinking coffee delivers a dose of caffeine that chemically arouses the brain into a state of alertness, but we also know that non-chemical cues, anything from certain colors to sounds to smells, can trigger shades of the effect.
To test the arousal potential of coffee without actually drinking it, the researchers conducted four experiments in which they exposed people from both western and eastern cultures to coffee and tea-related cues that would make them think of the substance without ingesting it.
The researchers were specifically interested in an effect known in psychology as “mental construal,” the degree to which we think in more or less concrete and specific terms. In an alert state of mind, the brain grasps whatever problems we’re facing more concretely – we get to the details that matter the most faster, allowing us to focus on solutions.
Across the experiments, the researchers say they found evidence that priming people with coffee cues—exposing them to images and other stimuli that conjured thoughts about coffee—did increase their mental construal, and also made them perceive time as shorter. An hour seemed to zip by faster with coffee on the mind.
The effects didn’t hold up as well for people from eastern cultures, in which the devotion to coffee isn’t as strong as in the west.
These results line up well with those from another recent study finding that simply smelling coffee increases alertness and sharpens thinking. In that study, a group of students taking the math section of the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) were exposed to coffee aroma. Compared to test-takers who didn’t smell coffee, the coffee group ended up with significantly higher test scores. They also reported greater expectations of doing well on the test while taking it, suggesting that the coffee aroma was triggering an ongoing uplifting effect throughout the test session.
All of these triggered effects likely tie back to the chemical effect of drinking coffee – our brains are “conditioned” to respond to coffee in certain ways (think of Pavlov’s famous dogs), so even brief exposure to coffee cues triggers the chemical-response pattern. These cues can’t deliver nearly the same level of effect as drinking coffee, but it seems we can experience flavors of it.
One useful takeaway from these studies could be to experiment with different ways of benefiting from coffee during the day without drinking it after the morning cup. Keeping coffee beans handy to sniff for a quick alertness boost, for example. Since we know that drinking caffeinated coffee later in the day can disrupt sleep, getting some of its benefits without continuously drinking it sounds like an idea worth trying.
The latest study was published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.
I love coffee, it has to taste good. I love espresso, people think I am snob, but I’m not. I like to drink good coffee, fine-cuisine desserts that are not overly sweet, a glass of good wine, and overall, I prefer quality to quantity. However, I totally got this funny story, and I’m sure you’ll love it too.
Decaffeinated against my will
I love coffee.
Nothing fancy, just a good dark roast with no room for cream. Ever since college, I have had a cup of coffee in reach.
It is my treat, my writing fuel, my liquid security blanket.
The only time I’ve given up coffee was while pregnant and when nursing my babies. I remember clearly the last time I nursed my last baby. Once done, I laid her gently in her crib, went straight into the kitchen and put the coffeemaker back on the counter.
That was 17 years and roughly 37,000 cups of coffee ago.
My friends and family no longer ask if I want a cup of coffee. They just hand it to me. Maryann Angelo, the wonderful owner of Barista Blues, hands me a carafe instead of a cup when I eat there.
Do I get headaches?
Do my hands shake?
Do I have manic periods where I can’t type as fast as my brain is thinking?
I know this bad, which is why I rejoice when studies come out lauding the health effects of coffee. It’s rich in antioxidants. It fights depression. It’s been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
These findings help me fend off the fact that one day some doctor is going to tell me to cut back. Not even the most liberal study would recommend the daily amounts of coffee I imbibe.
Sure enough, a few weeks after I turned 46, I was in a doctor’s office, holding a magazine, while a specialist asked me the “caffeine” questions.
“Do you drink energy drinks?”
My face when pink.
Now the magazine was over my face.
“How many cups a day?”
I’m not sure exactly.
Let’s just say my husband and I brew 12 cups of coffee in the morning and split the pot down the middle. And some days I drink one more cup before dinner.
When I lowered the magazine the doctor’s mouth was a thin line. She told me I needed to cut back my intake.
How far back?
To my credit, I didn’t cuss. The doctor did suggest I reduce my intake slowly, to avoid headaches. I moped all the way home, wondering if I had to switch to (gasp) herbal tea.
How am I supposed to write the great American novel on herbal tea?
My non-coffee-drinking son was the first human to cross my path after the bad news. I told him about the coffee problem.
“So, why don’t you just drink decaf?”
Decaf? I don’t put cream and sugar in my coffee because I want it to smell and taste like coffee. Decaf doesn’t smell and taste like coffee.
Later, I moped around the Internet looking at decaf coffees. I found other coffee snobs who had to get off the juice. These were my people, folks whose pain I felt. They wrote exhaustive reviews on decaf coffees, giving me a couple of recommendations, one of which I bought begrudgingly.
My plan was to reduce the good stuff and use the fake stuff for emergencies. I was not excited about this plan, which is why I had yet to brew the decaf, despite suffering a few emergencies.
That Friday, I went to visit family for a couple of days. I tried to be good about sticking to two cups of coffee a day. When I returned, my husband was nursing a cup of coffee and a headache. He wondered if he was getting sick.
I went into the kitchen and saw he had brewed my decaf by mistake. He wasn’t sick, just under-caffeinated. Before telling him so, I had to ask.
Did the coffee taste good?