New Health Study About Coffee

Every week it seems as though there’s a new study about the health effects of coffee. One study warns that the stuff is going to kill you, while according to another, it’s the greatest thing on earth. With all of these varied results, it’s hard to know just who, or what, to believe.

I’ll now add to the confusion. According to the latest study the results point in a positive direction. Don’t roll your eyes just yet. This one is the largest, most comprehensive of its kind and provides what may be the best look yet at how your morning cup of joe impacts your long-term health.

For 13 years, the AARP, in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, followed the lives of over 400,000 healthy adults aged 50-71. During the course of the study, about 13 percent of the participants died. Coffee drinkers were less likely to be among that 13 percent of participants, with a direct link between the cups of coffee consumed in a day and a lowered mortality risk. When broken down by the way participants had died, the pattern held true for all ailments with the exception of cancer.

Researchers won’t go so far as to say that coffee consumption lowers a person’s risk of developing a chronic disease, however, because the study’s methodology did not give a fully comprehensive portrait of participant’s health history. It also didn’t fully get behind coffee as a health food. Preliminary data, though, points to the roughly 1,000 compounds contained in the average cup of coffee as being positive for one’s health, with no indication that a cup or two of joe will do you one bit of harm.

Cold-Brewing Coffee

In the summer I drink more iced coffee than I do hot. Especially with the way this summer has gone thus far and seems to be shaping up to be. I got to wondering why I should brew hot coffee only to make it into iced coffee.

Well, I found out that there is a great alternative that makes a lot of sense but I had never discovered before. It’s called “cold-brewing,” and is just what the name conjures up in you mind when you hear it. The truth is, if you put something in water that is at all water soluble, meaning it can dissolve, it will infuse the water with its flavor. Age whiskey in a sherry cask and it takes on flavor from the wood. Put berries or herbs in your vodka for a few months, and you’ve got infused vodka. Coffee works the same way. Put coffee grounds in water for twelve hours, and boom, you’ve got coffee. That’s all cold-brewing is, and it works great, though we’ve been led to believe that coffee must be hot brewed to be palatable and become what we all recognize as coffee.

Obviously, heat does accelerate the process, but that’s not all it does. Heat also makes coffee much more acidic, which some coffee tasters demand for top “cup quality.” But the tides of taste may be turning against that static viewpoint. Important coffee shops nationwide are going cold. Cold-brewing, once relegated mainly to the home, is catching on in coffee shops across the country, and here’s why: With temperature change comes change in taste, but because cold-brewed coffee eliminates most of that temperature change, flavor is locked in. In other words, your day-old cold-brew won’t taste stale like day-old coffee.

So what are some of the advantages to cold-brewing? Here’s a short list that illuminates the more salient points of the argument in favor of cold-brewing:

1. Lower acid.
Cold-brewing closes the smell-taste gap. That phenomena whereby coffee smells great to some people, but they then find the taste to be off-putting. Taste is in the chemistry, and exposing coffee grounds to hot water releases oils that won’t dissolve at lower temperatures. These oils, however, are full of acidic compounds that give coffee its bitter bite. But along with that bite comes acid-shock, which anesthetizes the tongue and prevents the taster from perceiving the subtle nuances in coffee’s flavor. Sure, that acid may be nice in a hot cup of coffee, but for iced coffee, it’s a detriment. It doesn’t let you perceive coffee’s luscious fruitiness. It may be why so many people add milk and/or sugar to coffee in order to make it more palatable to their taste.

Cold-brewed coffee has been found to be 67 percent less acidic than hot-brewed. Without all that acid, the burnt flavor that plagues hot-brewed coffee is eliminated. Plus, the reduced acid makes it healthier for your stomach and your teeth.

2. Less acid means you will actually taste what you’re drinking.
Cold-brewed iced coffee has big advantages, like, for example, it tastes better. Since cold-brewing produces a low-acid drink, coffee’s other flavors are more readily detected. Those undertones of chocolate, fruit, and nuts jump to the forefront.

You’ll actually be able to taste the nuances that differentiate Huehuetenango beans from Guatemala, when compared to Ethiopian Yergicheffe, or Tanzanian Peaberry, for instance. Cold-brewing allows so many more coffee flavors to shine through, your bean of preference is likely to change regularly, giving you more satisfaction and variety in tastes and aromas.

Also, the flavor of cold-brewed coffee won’t change over time. Cold-brewed coffee has never been hot, so its chemistry doesn’t change as it cools, as is the case with hot-brewed coffee. As soon as you filter out the grounds, you’ve got a stable solution. With temperature change comes change in taste, but because cold-brewed coffee eliminates most of that temperature change, flavor is locked in. In other words, your day-old cold-brew won’t taste stale like normal day-old coffee.

3. Cold-brewing is easier than pie.
Don’t be intimidated by a new process. Cold-brewing coffee couldn’t be easier. All you need is a pitcher or a jar with a lid. A mason jar works perfectly, and something to strain out the grounds.

Combine one cup of coarsely ground beans with four cups of cold or room temperature water, give the mixture a stir, and let the magic of infusion go to work. The mixture should sit for about 12 hours, so make a batch at night and it will be ready to drink in the morning. Before drinking it, though, strain the solution through a coffee filter, a fine mesh sieve, or layered cheesecloth so you don’t get a mouth full of grounds. Filter the mixture once or twice, and you’ve got yourself delicious coffee that will stay good for about 10 days in the refrigerator.

French Press Cold-brewed Coffee

I prefer using a French press, myself. I simply mix the grounds and water at about a 1:4 ratio, and before using it, I then use the press mechanism as the filter just like I would do with hot coffee. If you don’t use that entire French pressed brew, simply pour the remainder into a pitcher, using a paper filter to pour it through if you wish.

If you’re a technophile, cold-brewing machines do exist, but all they’re providing is agitation to mix up the solution, and an easy way to strain and store the coffee. You can be fancy without a machine. All you need to do is shake up the steeping grounds a few hours in. This is more than sufficient to mix the steeping cold-brew so it’s reasonably homogenous. The lazy truth about colloidal suspensions, like coffee or tea (where tiny particles are suspended in a water-based solution), is that dispersive forces do all the mixing for you. There are going to be equal concentrations of flavor throughout.

4. Avoid the Starbucks siren’s caffeine call and save your money for better beans.
Cold-brewing exposes expensive coffee for what it is: a ripoff. Expensive coffee makers? Unnecessary. Using vinegar to break up the calcium carbonate deposits in your coffee maker? What coffee maker? The only thing that matters is the beans.

5. The truth will set you free: cold-brewing beyond iced coffee.
Another wonder of cold-brewing is the versatility of the product. Because you’re dealing with a more stable solution, you can do almost anything with it.

Filtering cold-brewed coffee

If you like your coffee hot, add boiling water to the concentrated cold-brewed syrup and you’ll have fresh hot coffee with all of the taste and low-acid benefits of cold-brewing.

If you find that perfect strength cold-brewed mix, but don’t want ice diluting it, freeze the mixture and use coffee ice-cubes. As they melt, the iced-coffee won’t get any weaker.

It’s perfect for a picnic or a day on the beach.

Many recipes don’t call for brewed coffee, because it’s just too acidic, but cold-brewed coffee is perfect for adding the coffee flavor, without the acid. It’s great for baking or marinating, and it’s perfect for a nice cool coffee cocktail.

Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee

Let’s suppose there was a place where everyone knew your name. No, not in Boston, but a small town. Somewhere like…oh, Sturgis, Michigan. And let’s suppose that this place wasn’t a bar named Cheers, but a coffee shop. Something like, I don’t know, maybe, Great Lakes. Now let’s suppose that it wasn’t a mythical place, nor a place invented for television, but a real place.

This coffee shop would share a very unique connection to Cheers. The fact that it would be the kind of place where everyone does, in fact, know your name. It’s clientele would be made up of lots and lots of regular customers. People who need the camaraderie to be found there maybe more than they crave the caffeine or really flavorful specialty beverages like lattes or frozen concoctions, or fruit smoothies.

Why do people spend time and money congregating in a bar like Cheers, or a coffee shop like this place known as Great Lakes? Oh, sure, they’re going to have a product worth paying premium prices to purchase, but that’s not the real reason. The real reason is the camaraderie. The feeling of being treated special.

When the people serving the public see a regular walk in and begin preparing the drink before they even order it, that’s special treatment. That’s the server telling this regular customer, “You’re special to me. I have taken the time and the trouble to know what you want. Not to be ingratiating, but because you’re more than a customer. You’re a friend, and this is your place and I’m here to make you feel welcome.”

When the server knows the customer’s name, and asks about their children, or their spouse, or their job, or good naturedly banters with them while they’re being served, this is special. It makes the customer feel unique and individual, and a part of something bigger than a coffee shop. It makes the customer feel like part of a community, or even part of a family of sorts.

Yes, this Great Lakes is a special coffee shop, filled with special product, special people, and a special feeling. Something missing in the sterility of chain stores and corporate mania. It’s a step back to a better, friendlier, more unique and special time. An oasis from the sameness that fills so much of our lives these days.

There’s a reason why people were attracted to watching Cheers. Much of it had to do with the feeling they got that this was a place, which if it existed in their town, could make them feel special. It was as close as most people would ever get to this sort of feeling in modern America. But it did identify a longing, maybe even a need in people to be part of something that could make them feel this way.

Sturgis, Michigan is lucky. It has gotten to have the real thing. A Cheers-like place where people can go. A place where each one of them can be treated special. A place where everybody does indeed know their name.

I’ve been in coffee shops in a lot of places. I’ve had good coffee, I’ve had bad. I’ve been made to feel good, and I’ve left feeling like I didn’t matter at all to the servers. But I’ve never been in a coffee shop, anywhere, anytime, that had as good a line of products, top to bottom as does Great Lakes. I’ve never been treated as well and made to feel as special just by walking in the door as
I’ve been made to feel at Great Lakes.

Like Cheers came to an end, so too will Great Lakes. Cheers got canceled because of tired story lines and low ratings. Great Lakes is being changed from inside, even at the pinnacle of its success and in spite of the fragile nature of its uniqueness.

I have found out that Great Lakes is being sold. At least the location is being franchised to new people. People who are looking at the success of the place as a business investment. Not an investment in community, in camaraderie, of all of those special feelings and the unique meaning that the place has for each of its customers. It’s a business decision, plain and simple. It’s a little bit of greed and a whole lot of hubris, but it’s not about the customers who will be turned off to new ways and methods and people behind the counter who will not give them the feeling of specialness.

As difficult as it will be, many of us who have built the customer base of this place will no longer find that spark there that drew us in and kept drawing us back. Many of us will drift aimlessly, not finding another place like the one we have known and counted on and, yes, loved. Others will find someplace else to get some semblance of that special feeling. Another coffee shop, perhaps, or a small town diner, or somewhere else we can meet and commiserate with our friends and neighbors.

Whatever we do and wherever these changes take us, the time spent in loyalty and friendship at Great Lakes will always live inside of us. We’ll all smile wistfully when thinking about what once was, and maybe our eyes will mist up in lamenting what no longer is. The experience of this place has left us different, and it’s largely intangible as to how. But we know that new owners with no sense of this unique bond, and no skills at serving the public in these special ways, will just never get it. They look at the place and its customers as a bottom line on a financial ledger, and due to this, they will kill what made it such a great place all along.

Some Fun Coffee Facts

“Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and as sweet as love” – Turkish Proverb

52% of Americans drink coffee.

A acre of coffee trees can produce up to 10,000 pounds of coffee cherries. That amounts to approximately 2000 pounds of beans after hulling or milling.

A scientific report form the University of California found that the steam rising from a cup of coffee contains the same amounts of antioxidants as three oranges. The antioxidants are hetero cyclic compounds which prevents cancer and heart disease. It’s good for you!

After the decaffeinating process, processing companies no longer throw the caffeine away; they sell it to pharmaceutical companies.

During the roasting process, coffee beans release about 700 chemical substances that make up the vaporizing aromas.

Beethoven who was a coffee lover, was so particular about his coffee that he always counted 60 beans each cup when he prepared his brew.

Before roasting, some green coffee beans are stored for years, and experts believe that certain beans improve with age, when stored properly.

Brazil accounts for almost 1/3 of the world’s coffee production, producing over 3-1/3 billion pounds of coffee each year.

Caffeine is on the International Olympic Committee list of prohibited substances. Athletes who test positive for more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of urine may be banned from the Olympic Games. This level may be reached after drinking about 5 cups of coffee.

Coffee beans are similar to grapes that produce wine in that they are affected by the temperature, soil conditions, altitude, rainfall, drainage and degree of ripeness when picked.

Coffee is graded according to 3 criteria: Bean quality (Altitude and Species) Quality of preparation Size of bean

Coffee is grown commercially in over forty-five countries throughout the world.

Coffee is the most popular beverage worldwide with over 400 billion cups consumed each year.

Coffee lends its popularity to the fact that just about all flavors mix well with it.

Coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States.

Coffee sacks are usually made of hemp and weigh approximately 132 pounds when they are full of green coffee beans. It takes over 600,000 beans to fill a coffee sack.

Coffee trees are evergreen and grow to heights above 15 feet but are normally pruned to around 8 feet in order to facilitate harvesting.

Coffee trees are self-pollinating

Coffee trees produce highly aromatic, short-lived flowers producing a scent between jasmine and orange. These blossoms produce cranberry-sized coffee cherries. It takes four to five years to yield a commercial harvest.

Coffee was first known in Europe as Arabian Wine.

Coffee, along with beer and peanut butter, is on the national list of the “ten most recognizable odors.”

Coffee, as a world commodity, is second only to oil.

Commercially flavored coffee beans are flavored after they are roasted and partially cooled to around 100 degrees. Then the flavors applied, when the coffee beans’ pores are open and therefore more receptive to flavor absorption.

Dark roasted coffees actually have LESS caffeine than medium roasts. The longer a coffee is roasted, the more caffeine burns off during the process.

During the American Civil War the Union soldiers were issued eight pounds of ground roasted coffee as part of their personal ration of one hundred pounds of food. And they had another choice: ten pounds of green coffee beans.

During World War II the U.S. government used 260 million pounds of instant coffee.