Coffee – how healthy or unhealthy is it really?

“Coffee and cigarettes” has long been synonymous with an unhealthy lifestyle with a guarantee of early heart attacks. But then came the chic fully automatic machines and with them the new coffee boom. The only question that arises is, “How (un) healthy is coffee really?”

Coffee - how healthy or unhealthy is it really?

Coffee is one of the newer luxury foods, at least in the West. Presumably, it came to Arabia in the 14th century through slave traders from Ethiopia. Where it is believed to have originated. It owes its spread to the rise of the Ottoman Empire. Although the story of the coffee beans captured during the second Turkish siege of Vienna.Must be referred to as the realm of legends.

The emergence of a coffee and coffee house culture goes back primarily to the colonial history of Europe. For example, the Netherlands and Portugal planted Arabic coffee in their colonies. Making it the most important crop in the tropics by the end of the 18th century. However, it was still controversial in Europe. Even though Pope Clement VIII had declared it a “Christian drink” as early as 1600. Despite the enormous number of his followers, he has not got rid of the reputation of being “unhealthy.”

What is colloquially called “coffee beans” is actually the kernel of the coffee cherry, an evergreen shrub that is very popular as a houseplant.

The two main varieties are Arabica and Robusta. Both require a temperate climate with temperatures not exceeding 30 degrees and can only tolerate a little direct sun, which is why trees that provide shade have to be planted. However, Robusta is a bit more resistant.

The cultivation occurs at altitudes of 300m (Robusta) up to 1200m (some Arabica varieties). Whereby highland coffee is considered to be of higher quality. The harvest is mostly done by hand. Only on the large plantations in Brazil are harvesting machines used, which lowers the quality of the green coffee. For a sack of coffee (60kg), at least 100 well-bearing shrubs are needed.

Robusta or Arabica? Two varieties in competition

For further processing, the cherries can either simply be air-dried and then freed from the dry fruit. This is most common in Africa and Arabia in particular. With another method of preparation (semi-dry), the fruits are first washed and freed from the pulp and only then dried. Wet processing is the most water-intensive (up to 150l per kilogram of green coffee). The pulped kernels are subjected to a fermentation process, which liquefies remnants of the pulp, and then washed and dried again.

A special type of processing is Indian “monsooning”, whereby the dry-processed coffee is exposed to the high humidity during the rainy season, which leads to a particularly mild end product. The quality of wet-processed coffee is often rated as higher. In fact, this depends mainly on the starting product, which leads us to the question asked at the beginning.

The myth of the “good arabica” and the “bad robusta” persists. However, this has its origin in the fact that the more resistant Robusta can be produced on larger plantations and probably also with lower quality. In fact, they are simply two different strains that have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, Arabica has a slightly higher acid content, while Robusta contains more caffeine. In terms of taste, however, the differences between various Arabicas and Robustas are so great that a good Robusta is always preferable to an inferior Robusta. The classic espresso is almost always a mixture, and, as always, when it comes to taste, your own palate is right.

Freshly roasted? Coffee roasting for the aroma

Another common misconception is the assumption that light roasts are particularly mild and dark roasts are robust. In the ideal case, the roaster adjusts these to the beans used to tease out the maximum of taste from each, and different varieties require different degrees of roasting. However, thanks to the hot air roasting that is popular today, in which large batches are automatically processed in a short time, this is hardly possible. For this reason, small businesses are preferred among connoisseurs, which is why this craft is fortunately not yet extinct.

The chemical and physical processes that take place in the bean during roasting are so complex that research has not yet been able to decipher them precisely. More than 800 flavorings are created.

With good packaging (vacuum, or even better with a one-way valve), the coffee ages slowly. But expiration dates of one year after roasting are unrealistic. However, immediately after roasting, the coffee still emits a lot of carbon dioxide. And, therefore, has to “evaporate” a little before it has developed the optimal taste. From the time it is ground. However, it ages rapidly. This is why pre-ground coffee may seem practical.but this benefit is bought at a high price. Ideally, you should only grind the amount you need and then pack the remaining beans airtight.

Coffee and health

Whether filtered, hand-brewed, pressed from capsules, ground in fancy machines, foamed and flavored or mixed with milk – coffee is so popular that its success is surprising again. How different are the image and the effect of the brown bean?

Thanks to increasingly precise analysis methods, science has so far been able to detect over 1000 different coffee ingredients. These include, for example, vitamins and minerals, proteins and fats, a large number of acids, and a high proportion of antioxidants. The effects of coffee on health have been intensively researched over the past decades, but there are still errors and misunderstandings about the brown drink effects.

The best-known ingredient is caffeine – chemically speaking; it is an alkaloid found in around 60 plant species. In its chemical structure, caffeine is similar to the body’s own adenosine. After oral ingestion, it is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract within 30 minutes and distributed throughout the body. It crosses the blood-brain barrier almost unhindered. It unfolds its stimulating effect in the brain by occupying the adenosine receptors A1 and A2A. And it prevents adenosine from entering the receptor and weakens its throttling effect: Neurotransmitters such as dopamine are (still) released, and the impulse transmission of impulses is facilitated.

New studies show that coffee makes a large contribution to the daily intake of antioxidants (Perez-Jiminez et al., 2011; Russnes et al., 2013). The strength of the antioxidant property depends, among other things, on the strength of the roast: Lighter and medium roasts have a stronger antioxidant effect than dark ones.

It is known that caffeine stimulates the heart. Coffee was therefore suspected of causing cardiac arrhythmias. Wrongly, as results show for the most significant arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation.

With regard to the effects of coffee consumption on cardiovascular diseases, the study results available so far are inconsistent. A number of studies actually show that individual biomarkers for cardiovascular diseases are increasing. For example, coffee has been reported to raise blood pressure and raise LDL cholesterol levels. However, this contrasts with the results of other studies that show that coffee consumption has a positive influence on cardiovascular mortality.

The current study situation is also inconsistent with the connection between coffee consumption. And an increased risk of a heart attack. Canadian researchers provide a possible explanation for this: They found an increased risk of a heart attack. Through the consumption of coffee only in individuals who belonged to the “slow caffeine breakers” .¹

One thing is certain:

Coffee promotes concentration –

The caffeine contained in coffee has an encouraging effect because it blocks the sleep-promoting messenger substance adenosine. The hot drink works best in several small portions spread over the day.

Coffee also has a calming effect –

the caffeine does not work for the first 15 minutes after drinking, but there is better blood flow to the brain, which in turn ensures relaxation and better sleep. So if you lie down to sleep immediately after a cup of coffee, you will quickly notice it. After a quarter of an hour, however, the caffeine begins to work, and this then keeps you awake longer.

Too much coffee increases blood pressure –

if you drink too much coffee over a long period of time, you have to expect higher blood pressure, sleep disorders, and general restlessness. Numerous scientific studies have shown that neither blood pressure, pulse nor blood sugar increase after coffee. And to do away with another prejudice: coffee does not dehydrate the body. Those who drink coffee excrete up to 84 percent of the fluids absorbed in the urine within a day. Whoever drinks pure water eliminates up to 81 percent – a negligible difference. The amount of coffee consumed can therefore confidently be added to the daily amount of liquid.

However, one thing is also clear: if you want to use the positive health aspect of coffee. You should definitely refrain from cigarettes afterward.


Coffee should be avoided in the case of gastrointestinal complaints, such as irritated mucous membranes in the stomach or intestines. In certain forms of high blood pressure and sleep disorders.Increased consumption of coffee is also not advisable.As coffee stimulates the central nervous system. It is best to talk to your doctor if you have any previous illnesses.

You can also read: These five tips can help relieve headaches 

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