The Rich History of Coffee: Separating Fact from Fiction

history-of-morning-cup-of-coffee

You might not give your coffee a second thought when you take that first sip in the morning. But as it so happens, your beloved morning cup of joe has a very interesting backstory. Let’s delve into the true history of coffee, to see where this beverage finds its origins.

Mysterious Origins of Coffee

Regarding the history of coffee, its initial discovery is shrouded in mystery, but there are a few legends. As one story tells it, a traveling Sufi mystic who went by the rather lengthy moniker Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili was trekking through Ethiopia when he noticed that a particular flock of birds seemed to have more than their fair share of vim and vigor. He observed them dining on a particular berry, and upon eating a few of them himself, discovered that it imbued him with the same spunk he’d observed in the local avian population.

Another account credits a Sufi disciple named Omar with discerning the coffee bean’s stimulating properties. Exiled to a desert cave, Omar found himself in desperate need of sustenance. In an act of desperation, he began to eat coffee berries, but found them unpleasantly bitter. So he built a fire and roasted them, but they became too crunchy to eat. Finally, he boiled them and found that the resulting liquid gave him the extra vitality he needed to survive in the desert. Word spread of his discovery, and he was welcomed home to Mocha as a holy man.

Yet another origin story tells of Kaldi the goatherd, who saw his goats frolicking a little more enthusiastically than usual after eating some strange red berries. After trying a few, he gathered some of the berries and took them to a local monastery, hoping the learned monks could explain the berries’ mysterious properties. The monk he met there was leery of these unusual berries, so he threw them into the fire, at which point all the other monks came to investigate the enticing aroma wafting around the monastery. “This smells great! Maybe we can drink it,” they said to each other, and soon, all the monks in the monastery were sweeping the halls with a ferocity not often witnessed in such hallowed locales. Or so the story goes.

Exploring the History of Coffee: Arabian Nights

We’re not sure which of the legendary accounts are true, but one thing is for certain: coffee as we know it did come from the Sufi monasteries of southern Arabia, probably sometime during the 15th century.

The Arabians knew a good thing when they saw it, and they were eager to share it with traders from neighboring lands. Soon, the intoxicating aroma of coffee was filling the air in Persia, Syria, Egypt, and Turkey.

Coffeehouses began to spring up in the more cosmopolitan cities, and the originals were much like the ones we frequent today. There were chess games, gossip, intellectual debates, and the occasional open mic night, only without the microphones, of course.

With Mecca being a popular destination for religious pilgrims, word of the invigorating and pungent beverage soon spread far and wide. The Arabians were fine with visitors enjoying their coveted local flavor, and didn’t mind selling them some beans to take home, but they certainly didn’t want to lose their hold on such a profitable product, so they kept their cultivation and production secrets closely guarded. Or so the ancient history of coffee goes…

dawn-of-european-coffee-culture

The Dawn of European Coffee Culture

Later on in the history of coffee, by the 1600s, the beverage had found enthusiastic fans in Europe. In typical fashion, members of the clergy initially condemned it, but calmed down once the Pope gave it the papal OK. Soon, there were coffee shops all over London, Vienna, Venice, and Amsterdam, and they quickly became popular social gathering places.

Coffee in the Colonies

Coffee’s first introduction to the New World took place in New York City, which was then known as New Amsterdam. The colonists enjoyed coffee, but weren’t completely sold on it at first. Of course, that all changed with the Boston Tea Party. After that, Americans switched to imported Dutch coffee in droves, just to spite the Brits. To this day, we’re still a devout nation of coffee drinkers.

Turn Your Coffee Obsession Into a Profession and Learn How to Become a Barista

Barista doing your coffee

People who are passionate about wine can become sommeliers, but people who are passionate about coffee become baristas. Because about 65% of adults drink coffee every day, there is no shortage of opportunities out there for baristas. Espresso, coffee, or cappuccino – most of us know that the recipes are all different. And while the average coffee drinker might not know if their beans are Arabica or Robusta, their barista surely knows the difference. Passion for coffee is the most important ingredient to creating a great cup of coffee, so let’s look at how to become a barista.

How to Become a Barista: What It Takes

People who love good coffee rarely understand the amount of testing and planning and training that goes into creating their favorite morning beverage. The brew process is complex, and starts with understanding and selecting beans. After that, training for how to become a barista includes grinds, brew methods, times and temperatures, and even cup selection.

Wine geeks have wine tastings but coffee geeks have cuppings. Part of your barista training will include refining of your palate. The last ingredient to any barista education is practice and more practice. But just how does one get the training necessary to become an actual barista?

There Are Schools That Teach You How to Become a Barista

There are many schools and training classes available when you want to become a barista. Simply search online by using a phrase like ‘Barista Schools’ for a list of institutions and programs near you. Often, a part of the training occurs online, which is convenient if you work or go to school. Some of these schools offer certificates so you can find a job right away, after you’ve learned how to become a barista.

On the Job Training for Baristas

For those who want experience and pay while they are training, working as an A barista creating latte coffee art.apprentice barista is a great start. As an apprentice, you get experience while you train – and you typically get paid for your time, too. You can opt to apply at a chain or a small, local coffee shop near you. Either way, make sure the training is thorough and includes a variety of options and specialty drinks, so you can maximize your experience as you learn how to become a barista.

Working as a Barista

The job of a barista is fast paced, flexible, and includes lots of interaction with people. Most baristas make a wage plus tips, and the better you are, the better the tips tend to be. Once you’ve been trained and have some experience, you can get a good job, even if you move to a different city. All it really takes to start is a love and passion for coffee!

Recent Studies Have Found the Benefits of Caffeine for ADHD

Studies Find Benefits of Caffeine for ADHD by CoffeeForLess

One of the most beloved effects from your morning cup of coffee comes in the way that it wakes you up. Because of the caffeine, you become more alert and focused. Well it turns out that the caffeine in coffee can also help to allay symptoms related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) Studies are starting to show that drinking the caffeine in coffee for ADHD can help to treat a problem that doctors tend to refer out to the pharmacy.

For decades, children and adults with ADHD have been treated with powerful prescription amphetamines such as Ritalin and Adderall. While patients often see their symptoms eased, they are also left with strong physical addictions as well as other side effects, including bipolar disorder, aggression, anxiety, and seizures.

Prepubescent ADHD and Caffeine

A 2011 study showed that caffeine was effective for allaying ADHD symptoms in neonatal rats. While the rats did not show any improvement in motor activity, they did improve their focus when scientists provided them with caffeine. Scientists hypothesized that caffeine might thus be effective in treating prepubescent ADHD in human subjects.

The Heart of the Issue: Dopamine

Dopamine is at the heart of the issue, chiefly because patients with ADHD have been shown to have lower than normal levels of dopamine. Stimulant drugs are then used to raise the dopamine levels to more correct levels. If dopamine goes too high, patients experience anxiety and other negative side effects. However, with the right dose, a stimulant like caffeine can raise dopamine production to a level that helps an ADHD patient focus. And this includes focusing enough to perform daily tasks such as reading, or remaining attentive to duties at work.

Synergistic Treatment: Caffeine for ADHD

Coffee Health Benefits ADHD

A cup of coffee may produce a heightened effect for those taking Adderall or Ritalin for ADHD.

For some, having a cup of coffee on top of their pharmaceutical medications might be
helpful, and caffeine and prescription amphetamines have a synergistic relationship,
meaning that each enhances the effects of the other. A patient who drinks a cup of coffee
for ADHD treatment, on top of his Adderall or Ritalin prescription, will experience a heightened effect, but he will also find that any negative side effects are enhanced. Patients might use this information to work with their doctors to see if lower doses of their regular ADHD medications could be prescribed on the assumption that they can be augmented with a cup or two of coffee.

Caffeine for ADHD: Not a One-Size Fits All Fix

It should be noted that caffeine may not provide the same benefits for everyone. ADHD arises from many different genetic mutations, which can come in a variety of combinations and create the same effects. So, if a cup or two of coffee is making someone anxious and jittery, that might not be an appropriate treatment for their ADHD. They might want to try decaf coffee and discuss their issues related to focus with a medical doctor or other healthcare provider, instead.

ADHD is a serious mental health issue that can be potentially helped out with caffeine. While there doesn’t seem to be any great risk in drinking coffee to help with focus and attention, no one should attempt to medicate themselves without consulting a healthcare professional first.

Reduce Your Risk of Endometrial Cancer: Drinking Coffee Is Healthy

Coffee is often a woman’s best friend – for both stay at home moms, as well as working professionals. It helps to wake her up, it keeps her on her toes throughout the day, and it just plain tastes so good. Making coffee an even more attractive beverage, it has recently been found that coffee is also good for one’s health. It seems that the magical brew can reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer is a disease specific to women who are generally over the age 45. The cancer that forms in the lining of the uterine wall will be diagnosed in over 50,000 middle-aged women in 2015, according to Cancer.org, making endometrial cancer the most common cancer of the female reproduction system.

The Link Between Coffee and Endometrial Cancer

Reduce Risk Of Endometrial Cancer By Drinking Coffee

A new study finds the risk of developing an endometrial cancer is reduced by 19% with only three cups of coffee per day.

It only takes three cups of coffee per day to reduce the risk of developing an endometrial cancer by 19%, according to a new study. The study was designed to determine the risk factors associated with 84 different foods and nutrients. Though the exact health implications were unknown, coffee was thought to correlate with cancer risk, alongside foods such as cheese, butter, monounsaturated fat, yogurt, and carbohydrates.

Then, the study group led by European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), created a new study group of 1,500 women who had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. This group, called the Nurses Health Study (NHS), focused on nine foods that were found to affect cancer risk: total fat, monounsaturated fat, phosphorus, carbohydrates, yogurt, butter, potatoes, cheese, and coffee. NHS discovered the positive health effects of three cups of coffee, and also concluded that four cups can reduce risk by 18%.

What to Do With the Correlation Between Coffee and Women’s Health

Now that researchers have determined this strong, positive correlation between coffee and reduced cancer risk, scientists need to get to work to determine what it is about coffee that specifically bolstered the health of so many women. It could be affecting the hormonal system in a particular way, or there might be special antioxidants that stave off cancer cells.

It’s also important to note that not all types of coffee and health benefits are created equally. Some beans have higher caffeine content than others, and there are many other compounds that go into our daily brew that can vary from bean to bean. So some coffee varieties might end up being better for fighting endometrial cancer than others. For now, coffee lovers should continue to drink three cups of their favorite brew each day to help maintain optimal health.

Coffee is a great part of so many people’s days. Some people go to sleep so that they can wake up and have a cup. Now that we know the positive health effects that drinking three cups has on the body, there is even more reason to look forward to it. Make sure that middle-aged women know about this study so they keep the java flowing!

 

Coffee linked to lower endometrial cancer risk

 

How Do You Know if You’ve Had Too Much Coffee in a Day?

too-much-coffee

Some of you might scoff at the notion of there being such a thing as “too much coffee.” We get it completely, because we love coffee too, obviously. Not only that, but drinking coffee has been shown to have significant health benefits. In spite of this, there is such a thing as too much caffeine when you drink coffee. So how can you tell if you’ve overdone it?

Coffee and the Jitters

When you’re working, it’s easy to lose track of how many cups of coffee and caffeine you’ve had. If you start fidgeting or your hands are getting a little bit shaky, then it may be time to switch to water or herbal tea for the day. Ditto that for increased heartbeat and feelings of restlessness – you may have ingested too much caffeine from coffee if you’re exhibiting these signs.

Getting the Heebie Jeebies From Caffeine?

Anyone who has ever experienced an anxiety attack knows that it’s not a pleasant experience, to say the least. And too much caffeine from coffee or other beverages can produce similar symptoms. If you’ve had so much coffee that you begin to sense impending doom for no apparent reason, or feel like spies might be following you around the office, then it’s probably a good idea to hold off on your 9th cup.

Be Still, My Beating Heart

Increased heartbeat is another sign that you may be drinking a bit too much java. You may also experience a feeling that could best be described as your heart “skipping a beat.” That’s not actually what it’s doing, and it’s probably not life threatening, but it can be rather unsettling. If you find the old ticker galloping away with nary a treadmill in sight, it could be the caffeine in your coffee. Oh, and we’re not doctors, so if you feel like something’s seriously wrong, you’d be wise to consider seeking medical attention.

I Don’t Feel So Well. Is It the Coffee?

If you have a knot in your stomach, or start to feel like you just got off the Zipper at the State Fair, then you may have had too much caffeine. Heartburn can also be caused by excessive coffee intake, as coffee and caffeine relaxes the part of the esophagus that normally prevents stomach acid from making its way up the throat.

So Thirsty… Must Have Water

Caffeine is a diuretic, which basically means that it makes you have to urinate. If your urine is dark yellow or orange, then you might very well be dehydrated, and that’s not a healthy thing. Try alternating coffee with water throughout the day, or just cut down on your coffee intake so you’re ingesting less caffeine.

Counting Sheep

After a long day of hard work and an evening of socializing or hitting the gym, your body should be ready for dreamtime. If you have trouble drifting off to sleep on a regular basis, excessive caffeine from your daily coffee intake could be the culprit. Caffeine’s effect can last 5 hours or more, so try cutting out the coffee after lunchtime and see if that makes a difference, before you decide to reduce the amount you drink each day even further.

Morning Coffee Not Hot Enough? Try Warming Up the Mug First

When you’ve just rolled out of bed and you’re still trying to shake the dreamy haze of sleep, there’s nothing quite like a hot cup of morning coffee to pry open those drowsy eyelids and put a spring in your step. But when your hot coffee turns tepid, it can really put a damper on your wake-up routine. Fortunately, there is a way to help your cup of coffee maintain its fresh-from-the-pot heat, and it starts by warming up the mug – here’s why.

coffee-brewing

Source: maorisakai.tumblr.com

Your Mug Is a Heat Thief

When you first grab your favorite coffee mug from the cupboard, you may notice that it’s cold to the touch, especially so during the winter months. And that makes sense; your cupboards are basically sealed off from the rest of your home, so they don’t benefit from your central heating system.

Fast-forward to a few minutes after you’ve filled your cup with steaming coffee, and you’ll find that the cup itself has become nice and warm. If it’s especially chilly, you might even wrap your hands around it to keep them cozy.

It’s a nice feeling, but that heat had to come from somewhere. You guessed it: your coffee cup is stealing heat from your fresh-brewed get-up juice. When hot coffee meets cold mug, thermal energy is exchanged. It’s simply a basic principle of physics.

Warm Your Cup First To Keep Morning Coffee Steaming

By now, you might be feeling a bit betrayed by your favorite coffee mug. Surely it knows you love hot coffee. So how could it do this to you?

Fortunately, there’s a trick to keep it from stealing your coffee’s steam. Just get in the habit of heating up your morning coffee mug first. Get some hot water from the faucet or boil some water on the stove. Fill your mug with the water and let it sit until the mug is warm to the touch. If you’re in a hurry, just throw it in the microwave for a little bit.

This trick works best with mugs that maintain heat well, but even thinner cups will keep coffee hot longer when preheated. And while it may seem like one more thing that you have to do in the morning, trust us – you’ll be delighted with the results as you sit your morning cup of coffee, and it stays hot until you’re finished.

hot drink

Friday is National Wear Red Day in Honor of Women’s Heart Health

The American Heart Association has dedicated Friday, February 6, to National Wear Red Day to help raise awareness for heart disease – particularly in women. Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women, yet it’s 80% preventable.

Significant strides have been made over the last 10 years since the first National Wear Red Day as guidelines have educated millions of healthcare providers to recognize and treat heart disease and stroke in women. It’s no longer thought of as “just a man’s disease,” with nearly 90% of women making at least one behavior change.

Even making small adjustments to one’s diet can make a big impact — and naturally, we turn to coffee and its potential benefits. Here are 3 easy ways to make your favorite morning drink that much healthier:

  1. Cut down on the sugar. Skip the artificial sweeteners and other chemical additives. Use real cream (in small doses) or milk (skim, 1% or 2%), or try alternatives like almond milk and coconut milk. To add a little sweetness, nectar, honey or natural sugar (in the brown packet) will do the trick. For an extra Wear-Red-Day-IMAGEimmunity boost, try adding coconut oil, which can help stimulate your metabolism.
  2. Optimize what time you drink coffee. It might be best to wait just a little longer after waking to enjoy that first cup of coffee because your body is “naturally caffeinating,” meaning your cortisol levels are at their peak around 8-9am (under normal circumstances). So staggering your coffee breaks between 9:30-11:30am, and 1:30-5:30pm gives you the true caffeine boost your body can take advantage of.
  3. Drink water first thing in the morning. Before filling up your coffee pot, or preparing your K-Cup machine, drink a glass of water. A small glass of water first thing in the morning can go a long way and keep you hydrated.

Show your support for saving women’s lives through heart health by wearing red and spreading the message on Friday and all year long. On social media, use the hashtag #GoRed to show how you Go Red to support the cause on National Wear Red Day.

Learn About 10 Ways to Go Red in February at goredforwomen.org/get-involved/national-wear-red-day/10-ways-to-go-red/, and explore more surprising health benefits of coffee in the infographic below.

Interested in donating? Visit the American Heart Association’s Donate page to learn more: goredforwomen.org/wearredday/donate/.

health-benefits-of-coffee

 

GE To Make Refrigerator With Built In K-Cup Coffee Brewer

Some coffee purists may scoff at Keurig’s K-Cup coffee brewing system, but devotees swear by it. Even the most jaded connoisseurs are forced to concede its groundbreaking convenience factor and excellent selection of delicious hot beverages. Regardless of your opinion on the single-serve trend, there’s no denying its popularity. In fact, a 2014 survey by the National Coffee Association found that nearly thirty percent of coffee drinkers use single-cup brewers.

And why wouldn’t they? K-Cup coffee is easy and fast, it’s always hot and ready, and the process involves zero cleanup. No more dealing with spilled coffee grounds or spilling coffee because of sneak-a-cup features that aren’t so sneaky.

Big News for K-Cup Lovers

Now, GE and Keurig have announced a new refrigerator that actually brews coffee from K-Cups, which is big news for K-Cup coffee enthusiasts. Called the Café refrigerator, this forward-thinking kitchen companion allows users to brew their K-Cups even more conveniently than a traditional Keurig machine.

There’s no need to refill the water reservoir, because the refrigerator has its own water line for ice, water, and of course, for glorious coffee brewed fresh from K-Cups. The Café fridge also conserves counter space, leaving more room for that fancy new juicer you thinking about purchasing.

The Café Has Some Very Attractive Features

To make great coffee, you need great water, and the Café boasts one of the most advanced filtration systems available on any refrigerator. Independently verified to remove trace pharmaceuticals, water treatment chemicals, and other impurities, it’s designed to provide the perfect cup of K-Cup coffee or tea, every time.

The Keurig machine isn’t the Café’s only high-tech feature… far from it. It also sports a touch-screen interface and mobile device connectivity. Via an Android or iOS device, you can preset your brew time so your water will be steaming hot as soon as you get out of the shower.

Environmentally conscious consumers will be happy to know that the future of refrigeration is also ENERGY STAR certified. There’s no need to worry about your electricity bill, as this refrigerator barely uses as much energy for brewing your K-Cup coffee as charging your cell phone overnight.

The one thing it doesn’t have? Portability. You won’t be bringing this coffee maker on the road to your next out-of-town conference, so you may want to hold on to your Keurig machine, just in case. Other than that, it seems like a sure winner.

Where Can I Get a GE Café for My Morning K-Cup Coffee?

By now, many of you are probably wondering where you can get your own Café Refrigerator. We have some bad news – this machine is from the future.

For now, you’ll have to hop in your time-traveling Delorian to get your hands on the Café. But if you can wait until Fall 2015, it can be yours for $3,300, and you won’t have to worry about disrupting the space-time continuum in order to brew your fresh cup of K-Cup coffee.

Easily Recycle Your K-Cups With Zero Waste Boxes From TerraCycle

Many of us know recycling K-Cups, pods and capsules is not always the easiest, and there’s some confusion around what part of the capsule is actually supposed to be thrown away or separated. We’ve seen all kinds of recommendations and clever ideas on how to recycle K-Cups and make use of leftover waste. Well, we have good news: recycling your coffee capsules just got much easier. CoffeeForLess.com has partnered with TerraCycle to turn your K-Cups, pods, and other capsules into recyclable materials — and all it takes is a box.

The best part about all of this? There’s no separation needed on your part. Simply collect all your K-Cups, capsules, or coffee pods, toss in the Zero Waste Box, and send it off. The label is already there for you.

So How Does it Work?

recycle-coffee-capsules-box

The TerraCycle Coffee Capsule Zero Waste Box™ can hold 600 capsules

Use the Zero Waste Box to recycle any and all pre-packaged capsules used in capsule-specific machines, including K-Cups, Nespresso-compatible capsules, and coffee pods.

  1. Purchase the TerraCycle Zero Waste Box from CoffeeForLess.com. It will be
    shipped directly to your door.
  2. Fill the box with used coffee K-Cups, capsules or pods. TerraCycle estimates the small Zero Waste Box can hold about 600 capsules!
  3. When the box is completely full, hand it to any UPS delivery person (return shipping is included) and they will bring it to a TerraCycle Zero Waste facility.

The cost of the Zero Waste Box includes:

  • Color printed shipping box
  • Pre-paid UPS return shipping label
  • Processing of waste

Important tip to keep in mind: Please do not include used tea or coffee filters, loose coffee grounds, electronics (coffee makers) or any other coffee and tea accessories.

Coffee Capsules Get a Second Life

TerraCycle re-purposes the waste into sustainable, affordable building materials, and other consumer products by making every part of the K-Cup recyclable. From the TerraCycle website, the process is broken down:

“The collected waste is mechanically and/or manually separated into metals, organics and plastics. Metals are smelted so they may be recycled. The organics (such as the coffee grounds) are composted. The plastics undergo extrusion and pelletization to be molded into new recycled plastic products.”

how-waste-works-now

Source: zerowasteboxes.terracycle.com

You can now recycle your Keurig K-Cups, capsules, and pods effortlessly with a Zero Waste Box from TerraCycle. As the popularity of K-Cups and capsules continues to climb, we’re glad to offer a revolutionary solution that helps reduce the environmental impact and product waste left behind by our favorite brewed beverages.

In the comment section below, let us know if you’ve had any experience reusing or recycling your K-Cups. We’d love to hear your feedback, or any questions about the Zero Waste Box program.

Cheers!