Coffee is prepared from roasted coffee beans, which are the seeds of "berries" from the Coffea plant. Coffee plants are cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, India and Africa. The two most commonly grown are arabica, and the less sophisticated but stronger and more hardy robusta.
Once ripe, coffee beans are picked, processed, and dried. Green (unroasted) coffee beans are one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Once traded, the beans are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor, before being ground and brewed to create coffee.
The bean is a seed of the coffee plant; it is the pit inside the red or purple fruit often referred to as a cherry. Even though they are seeds, they are referred to as 'beans' because of their resemblance to true beans. The fruits - coffee cherries or coffee berries - most commonly contain two stones with their flat sides together.
Coffee is a complex mixture of chemicals. Caffeine is the major compound in coffee and it is a mild central nervous system stimulant. A typical cup of coffee provides approximately 80 – 100mg caffeine and extensive research has shown some beneficial effects of caffeine in the diet. In some individuals, however, there can be adverse effects, such as disturbed sleep patterns or gastric upset.
The effect of coffee on human health has been a subject of many studies; however, results have varied in terms of coffee's relative benefit. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults.
According to Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic, coffee has a long history of being blamed for many ills - from stunting your growth to claims that it causes heart disease and cancer. But recent research indicates that coffee may not be so bad after all and, get this, the health benefits outweigh the risks.
Recent studies have generally found no connection between coffee and an increased risk of cancer or heart disease. Most studies find an association between drinking coffee and decreased overall mortality and possibly cardiovascular mortality, although this may not be true in younger people who drink large amounts of coffee. Also, it seems earlier studies didn't always take into account that known high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity, tended to be more common among heavy coffee drinkers.
Studies have shown that coffee may protect against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer. It also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.
That's not to say that there are zero risks. High consumption of unfiltered coffee (boiled or espresso) has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels and some studies found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. So, how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk. However, coffee consumption is associated with increases in several cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure and plasma homocysteine. Also, the diterpenes in coffee may increase the risk of heart disease.
According to Authority Nutrition – An Evidence Based Approach article, 13 Proven Health Benefits of Coffee, coffee is actually very healthy because it's loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health. The studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases.
WebMD reports that Australian researchers looked at 18 studies of nearly 458,000 people and found a 7 per cent drop in the odds of having type 2 diabetes for every additional cup of coffee drunk daily. There were similar risk reductions for decaf coffee drinkers and tea drinkers. But the researchers cautioned that data from some of the smaller studies they reviewed may be less reliable. So it's possible that they overestimated the strength of the link between heavy coffee drinking and diabetes.
Dunkin' Donuts and CareerBuilder did a survey on U.S. coffee drinking in the workplace and complied a list of the 15 heaviest coffee drinkers. They were:
1-Scientists and lab technicians
2-Marketing and public relations
4-Editors and writers
11-Personal care givers
12-Human resource benefits coordinators
The world's most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, is "produced" by the palm civat of Indonesia. Also called toddy cat, it is a small animal native to South and Southeast Asia. Long regarded by the natives as pests, they climb among the coffee trees eating only the ripest, reddest coffee cherries. The coffee beans are then subjected to fermentation in their gastrointestinal tract which lowers the caffeine content.
Despite its high price, some drinkers claim it's pretty much indistinguishable from regular coffee. Others disagree. The aroma is rich and strong, and is almost syrupy, has a hint of chocolate, and lingers on the tongue with a long, clean aftertaste.
There are also similar types of coffee available.
Elephant crap coffee: Black Ivory Coffee is made by passing coffee beans through the stomachs of elephants and then picking the beans out of their droppings. Or, if the idea of drinking coffee made from beans dug out of cat or elephant dung offends you, monkey parchment coffee may be the way to go;