Ask any coffee drinker: coffee love is a powerful thing. For centuries, it has been beloved across the world in many different forms. Coffee has made headlines in recent months with studies citing new benefits about this much-guzzled drink. How did this hot beverage become a part of mornings across the world? And what are some of the potential health benefits?
The native origin of coffee is thought to be Ethiopia, before spreading to Persia and later Italy, then through Europe, to Indonesia, and finally over to the Americas. Coffee beans come from the center of coffee berries, a fruit that grows bright red when ripe.
Legend has it that the first coffee imbiber was an Ethiopian goat herder. He observed increased energy in some goats who had munched on the berries, and after chewing some of his own, he noticed similar effects.
A monk who witnessed the goat herder’s behavior took some berries back to his fellow monks. After ingesting, the profound effects of caffeine kicked in, and they found themselves awake for much of the night.
Initially, people consumed the coffee berries in a variety of different ways, adding them into old-world protein bars for a dose of nutrition. It wasn’t until the 13th century that people began to roast coffee beans. Our modern version of roasted coffee is thought to have originated in Arabia, where the effects of caffeine were useful for long prayer sessions.
In the 1960s, interest in coffee sourcing led to the rise of specialty coffees, which contributed to the opening of gourmet coffee shops such as Starbucks. Many people pay particular attention to sourcing since better-sourced coffee is healthier, in particular organic, single-sourced, and organic fair trade varieties.
Coffee is revered in many parts of the world for its contribution to health and longevity. Though the exact components that deliver these health benefits are unknown, it is thought to be related to two things in particular: phytochemicals and caffeine.
The surface-level benefits of coffee include mental alertness and a reduction in fatigue. Yet coffee’s reach goes much deeper than just that. In fact, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet. Studies have shown that drinking coffee can help protect against a variety of conditions including Parkinson’s, diabetes, colon cancer, liver cirrhosis, endometrial cancer, artery health, and more. A recent study showed that drinking a moderate amount of caffeine decreased the risk of liver cancer by 14 percent. How much is moderate? The amount that is considered safe for non-pregnant healthy adults is up to 400 mg of caffeine, about four cups of coffee.
For dinner, try this take on beef stew with Coffee Beef Stew. Packed with key ingredients for added flavor such as coffee and white wine, this dish will be sure to please the entire family.