Less Coffee, More Espresso?


Should you skip the coffee, and "make it a double" instead?

By now you've undoubtedly heard that most of the scientific community has come
around on coffee: yes, coffee has been shown to have significant beneficial health
effects when consumed in moderation, which means two to three servings a
day for most people (obviously anyone with caffeine sensitivities or any contraindications should consult their doctor before consuming). 

From lowering your risk of Parkinson's Disease, Diabetes and colon cancer to boosting mental performance and brain health to reducing headaches to increasing physical performance and much more, the news about the health benefits of coffee seems to keep pouring in each week.

And to think that not long ago, coffee drinking was commonly perceived as a major vice, a very unhealthy negative drink that should be avoided at all costs!

Coffee has truly become a core part of the diet in many countries, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, but becoming more and more true in virtually ALL developed countries around the world each year (even formerly tea-centric countries such as in Asia and the U.K.):  over half of all
Americans drink at least one cup every day, and in those people, coffee
is actually the single largest provider of antioxidants to their systems, higher than any other food or beverage consumed during the day!

While we at BrainReady are nuts for our Matcha green tea, we're also
very dedicated (and discriminating) coffee drinkers, doing the Java thing in the morning and switching to green tea/Matcha in the afternoon.

But before you run off and order up that triple mocha with double
whip, careful: not all coffee drinks are created equal.

It should be pretty obvious that any health benefits you get from coffee are going to be diminished by loading up on dairy and sweeteners.  So for the best health benefits, be sure to
enjoy your coffee black. Or, if you must sweeten or dilute it, consider the natural herb Stevia as a sweetener, and unsweetened soy milk as your dairy milk replacement.

But how about pushing coffee aside and getting even closer to the true essence of the antioxidant-rich coffee bean: Espresso! 

Wait, isn't that like the rocket fuel version of coffee, destined to render me jittery and up all night, compared to coffee? The truth is surprising, and here's why:

Have you ever wondered why weak, watery coffee tastes more
acidic than a regular-strength cup?  Or why percolated coffee is so much less
rich tasting than a well-brewed cup (such as from a French coffee press)?  The answer lies in how the coffee flavor and caffeine are extracted from the beans when hot water is run through the grounds.

Most of the "good" bits from the coffee bean are extracted in the first cup of water passed through the grounds.  So when you make a full pot of coffee, the first cup out has the flavor, and most importantly, the good for
you stuff that we keep hearing coffee has.  But then by running 7
more cups of hot water through, you are essentially extracting the
less healthy and more bitter, acidic parts of the coffee bean, including the volatile oils and caffeine which can make drinking coffee a rather stomach-destroying experience for many people.

The best solution is to drink only the best part of the extract:
Espresso is made by forcing a small amount of hot water through
coffee quickly to extract the great coffee flavor and strongest antioxidant properties, stopping before you begin breaking down the oils and
over-extracting the caffeine.

But won't that espresso get you totally WIRED?  Au contraire:  while
it has the strongest flavor, it has less caffeine than a brewed cup
of coffee:  A 2 oz double espresso has  50mg of caffeine.  an 8 oz
cup of brewed coffee has 2.5 times as much caffeine - 135mg!

Let's do the math by looking at the ingredients:  To make a double
espresso, you use 2 tbsp finely ground coffee.  To make brewed
coffee, you use 1 tbsp per 8oz cup.   What that means is that PER-
tablespoon, in an espresso, you're  extracting 25mg of caffeine, and
in a cuppa joe you've extracted,
well, 135mg caffeine. 

Over 5 times as much caffeine extracted from the same amount of grounds...wow!

A cup of espresso gets you more flavor, less bitterness, and less
caffeine than a full cup of coffee.  If that's too strong-tasting for
you, add some hot water to fill the cup - that's called an "Americano",
and is on the menu of every coffee shop.  It's a great way to get all
of the benefits of espresso with a big full cup.

What about Decaf?

For reasons still not fully understood, drinkers of Decaf coffee have not shown to reap the same health benefits from coffee consumption that drinkers of caffeinated coffee derive. This is important to note, as many people drink decaffeinated coffee under the assumption that they will derive all the benefits of coffee but without the caffeine, but numerous studies have shown that this is not the case; the health benefits of the coffee bean have been demonstrated thus far (consistently) only from the regular coffee bean.

And, many recent studies have shown that the caffeine itself is one of the elements providing some of these health benefits.

Perhaps more is lost during the decaffeination process than removing just the caffeine. But again, if you have any contraindications with caffeine or coffee, obviously you shouldn't start consuming coffee or espresso just to obtain the health benefits, as coffee can be problematic for some people (although very few have any serious health problems from coffee consumption).

Most importantly:  If you load up a delicious espresso with milk,
sugar, and low-cacao content sweetened refined chocolate, you might as well be drinking an ice cream malt or a can of soda. So enjoy your coffee and espresso as-is, as close to the source (coffee bean) as possible, and save the calories for later. 

And remember, the health benefits have been shown when consumed in moderation, even though some studies have shown increased health benefits from higher consumption levels. Still, no 10-cup-a-day junkies, please...

It's simple: if you drink coffee and have no contraindications, just try to cut down on the brewed stuff, switch to Espresso (or an Americano), skip the unhealthy sweeteners and dairy additions, and reap those health benefits...in addition to the incredible taste and mental benefits!

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