Coffee is lovely, if you are a coffee fan. And though coffee contains caffeine, it has become one of those things, similar to red wine, or dark chocolate, that has been proven to have health benefits, if consumed in moderation. Yes, really. To be clear, I am not talking about the drinks that you can order that are one-fifth actual coffee and four-fifths sugar, whip cream, marshmallows, popsicles and regret. That’s not really coffee, that’s a dessert. It’s like two desserts.
Let’s discuss some of the health benefits of good coffee. A 2015 study by the National Cancer institute found that regular coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of melanoma, compared to those that do not imbibe. Coffee is also naturally high in anti-oxidants, which help your body repair and sometimes prevent damage. There are also links between higher coffee consumption and lowered risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, heart disease and tooth decay.
Of course, these potential health benefits only come from black, unsweetened coffee. If you must doctor your coffee in order to make it palatable, try sugar-free sweeteners like Splenda, or Swerve, if you want to go the natural route. There are also sugar free coffee-creamers to be had, if you look for them. The important thing is not to add sugar, or too many calories to your drink. It’s not that difficult if you plan ahead.
If you are up to the challenge, there are many, many KINDS of coffee as well. Like the wine world, coffee growing and roasting has become its own art form. Many grocers today will have a large display of coffee choices, along with descriptions of the various coffees’ flavors. There are light and dark roasts, French roasts, coffees from all parts of the world, spicy or sweet, tame or strong. The only way to find out what your favorite coffee is, is to start researching, tasting, and talking to the people there that know their coffee. You’ll see descriptions for: Aroma! Flavor! Mouth-Feel! Yes, mouth-feel. They’ll say things like “notes of vanilla,” “hints of honey” or toffee, even flowers.
Smell is also a good indicator of whether you’ll love a roast of coffee. If the smell makes you swoon, you’ll probably enjoy the taste as well. Also, there are studies that state that not only does the consumption of coffee reduce stress, but even just smelling coffee can lessen your stress. So sniff away.
There are so many ways to prepare coffee today. The coffee makers that use single-use cups for every mug of coffee have become incredibly popular and can now be found in almost every office and waiting room, but what’s popular is not always what’s best. There’s also the standard percolation coffee pot, the French press, instant coffee, coffee-like drink mixes, drive-thru “coffee” drinks that may have at one time sat near actual coffee, and the more basic “pour-over” method. The pour-over method is a favorite of some of the coffee snobs I know, because it’s so basic and gives you the full flavor of the coffee you’re preparing. Do some research and find your favorite method and then defend that method from all coffee snobs. You do you. What everyone does seem to agree on, however, is that freshly ground coffee is best, so ty to grind your beans at the store or at home right before you’re planning to use them.
Some final thoughts: if you don’t like coffee, but like the idea of the potential benefits, many of them can also be attained by drinking green tea, so do try that. Green tea is delicious. Also, remember that too much caffeine is never a good idea, so don’t use this advice as carte-blanche to drink 10 cups of coffee all day, every day. Your heart will race, your hands will shake, and no one will trust you to drive a car anymore. Finally, and as always, make sure to discuss any potential diet changes with your doctor.