Home > Uncategorized > In Defense of Coffee

In Defense of Coffee

Scrolling down these most recent entries, I’ve been seeing quite a bit of anti-caffeine fanaticism.  Now, normally I would probably just leave a comment or two, but as not only a coffee addict but a Seattlite– bound to protect Starbucks by Washington state law, I’m fairly certain– I felt the need to offer my two cents (or $3.50 for a tall double shot espresso as the case may be).

Obviously, too much of anything is bad.  Let’s get that out of the way right now.  Caffeine can make you jittery, mess with your sleep, and all the tanins in coffee can inhibit iron absorption often leading to anemia when consumed in excess.  However, caffeine is the world’s wonder drug for a reason: it gets the job done.  And it gets it done hard.  The United States government has conducted innumerable tests involving coffee consumption and performance including one study on Navy SEALs showing “200 milligrams of caffeine significantly improves…cognitive function, including vigilance, learning, memory, and mood state…alertness and reaction time, even after half a week [or 72 hours] awake.”  Caffeine, because of its stimulant properties, has also been shown to drastically increase sprinting speed in another study.   The difference between the two times was related to the difference between clearing the crosswalk and getting hit by a semi truck.  And these benefits of the brew don’t just come to those at the peak of their physical health like the SEALs or olympic sprinters; they affect the average person too.  That means our performance need not only be predicated by solely our hard work, just what every college student wants to hear.   And it doesn’t stop there.

Coffee has been shown to have a multitude of positive effects on your brain as well.  Firstly, it has neuroprotective effects, guarding against ailments from Parkinson’s to dementia.  Furthermore, even in the healthy brain, caffeine antagonizes adenosine receptors which a) keeps you alert, awake, and motivated and b) suppresses dulling adenosine and allows the brain to receive and process more dopamine, improving general mood and productivity.  Other studies have shown that it has the protects you from cirrhosis of the liver, multiple forms of cancer (the cultures actually committed cellular hari-kari when exposed to coffee), and even suicidal tendencies.

So before we all go hating on coffee, let’s just remember all the good it does for us too.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 12, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I would have to agree, coffee is not bad for us. I get one of two questions when people learn that I am from Seattle, “Does it really rain all the time?” and “Do you love coffee?” So yes it does rain a lot, but not the downpours we have here in DC, more of a drizzle but as for the coffee, even back home I was obsessed. I was so happy when I found out GDub Java worked as JStreet money, this opened up a whole new opportunity for caffeine between classes. My addiction could be fueled. This is one of the drawbacks to coffee, not a health one but a financial one.
    Coffee may have a bad reputation but it actually has good qualities about it. We over use it expecting it to keep us up for days at a time, then blame coffee for not making us feel perfect. Coffee in a pure form is not unhealthy as all the studies that have been posted prove. The issue comes in once we add all the sweeteners and milk and everything else that people love to mix in. This takes away from the health benefits of coffee. Americanos or drip coffee keep the health benefits while frappuccinos or lattes loose them within all the added ingredients.

  2. October 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    It’s true that a lot of coffee’s bad rap comes from these over the top dessert-drinks, but even non-pure coffee can have detrimental effects. The studies on liver cirrhosis also showed that, while ground regular coffee can cut your risk of liver cirrhosis in half, decaffeinated and instant coffee can actually increase this risk by 30%.
    ( http://i-beta.crackedcdn.com/phpimages/article/5/7/5/86575_v1.jpg )
    So a lot of these misconceptions can also be due to the myth that instant and decaf are “pretty much the same thing” as whole ground beans. Looks like we don’t just have venti triple shot carmel macchiatos with cream and whip to blame for coffee’s reputation.

  3. October 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I like to drink coffee, as well as tea. I up my intake during colder months, for obvious reasons, and go from being slightly addicted to caffeine to being head-ache free in the mornings. I think that what Imorella points out about the health benefits of coffee being compromised by the additives of sugar and milk and all that other good stuff is very important to take into account. There are so many different drinks we’ve added coffee to that has made it less healthy to consume. Something that I think is interesting is how people in other cultures consume their coffee. For instance, from what I’ve noticed from my friends and family of other cultures, Americans are in a minority group, and maybe the only group, which makes iced coffee and tea. Coffee was one of the products in the 18th century which boomed in consumption. It is also prevalent in Europe, Africa, China and South America, but when I think about it, all other cultures take their coffee hot, and often without any additives. Amongst the temperature options to coffee/tea, you can also get it decaf. A nice warm cup of decaffeinated tea is always a good way to go to sleep. I think it’s amazing how many different kinds of coffee and tea there are, and how integrated their consumption is to our society and others. And as always, if we so choose, we could be healthier in our coffee-consuming habits.

  4. October 13, 2011 at 3:28 am

    I have heard many times that cutting out daily coffees is a great way to cut calories and spending- and I am actually starting to realize that this is probably true! I’ve been getting at least one “frou frou” coffee drink a day and have noticed a rapid decrease in funds and a sweet tooth that seems to be causing me some issues (hello freshman 15). I think it would be more beneficial for my bank account and health to stick to regular coffee- which is cheaper than lattes, frappuccinos and mochas (which I am currently very attached to).

    Just as a little fun anecdote, while I was reading/writing on this blog post, I realized that all of the coffee vocabulary: capuccino, frappuccino, mocha, venti, macchiato, grande etc. are all Italian words. This is related to what sthielrobinson said, about coffee being European, and I agree that it is definitely consumed differently there. I guess it is just yet another example of American’s taking a healthy practice and running with it to make it unhealthy.

  5. October 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    My family consists of avid coffee drinkers. We all love our coffee strong and with cream and sugar. I see firsthand what the negative effects of coffee are through my family. About three years ago my Moms heart started skipping beats and her pulse would speed up then slow down. We all were very worried and she went to the Doctors and they told her it was from the caffeine in the coffee. Crazily enough it was true! Every time she has more than one cup of regular coffee her heart starts acting all funny. Now my Mom has to have her own coffee pot because she drinks decaf while the rest of us drink regular coffee.

    So coffee is a mixed blessing. I personally love it but make sure not to become addicted to it, because like everything too much of it is a bad thing.

  6. October 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    This reminds me of this episode of Modern Marvels on the History Channel pertaining to the history of coffee.

    According to the documentary, coffee fueled the Renaissance since it was the drink that got the Europeans off of beer. It stated that during the Middle Ages, safe drinking water was difficult to come by, so people either drank milk, or beer; and in those days, and at any given time, most of the population was at least buzzed.

    Another fun fact, every South American coffee type descended from a single coffee bean stolen from King Louis XIV’s private coffee plant.

  7. October 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve always been spoiled when it comes to coffee, so spoiled that I think Starbucks coffee (that the baristas make) is subpar and tastes like water. Ever since I got to college, I’ve had subpar coffee wherever I go.

    When my father was a teenager living in his home country he had a coffee stand to bring him some extra money to his family. In his city, he was known for charging more for his coffee than anyone else. However, many people came to him anyway since his coffee was some of the best available where they were at.

    He brought his knowledge of coffee to the United States and I’ll share some with you:

    2 heaping teaspoons crushed Columbian Dark Roast beans, or the darkest beans that you can find (From Caffeteria Soho in 147th Sullivan Street, NY, NY)
    1 Scoop Vanilla Ice Cream
    1 teaspoon sweetened condensed milk
    Crushed Ice

    1) Throw in two heaping teaspoons of the beans into a drip coffee maker
    2) Use 2/3 cup of boiling water, wait for it to drip
    3) Pour the contents into a cup
    4) Throw in one scoop of vanilla ice cream and stir. Be sure that the ice cream is completely liquified
    5) mix in a single teaspoon of sweetened condensed milk and stir.
    6) Pour the contents of that into a glass, add a cup of crushed ice and push it into the glass until most of it is completely submerged
    7) Enjoy, if you mess up, I’m not responsible =]

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