By: Cami Swafford
My family runs on coffee. We make about four to five pots of coffee everyday. Some of us drink it black, while some drink it with more milk and sugar than actual coffee. This is expected from a family of eleven people, but we’re not alone in our dependence on coffee. The average American drinks approximately 3.2 cups of coffee everyday, resulting in Americans spending forty billion dollars a year on coffee. Since this addicting drink is so prevalent in our society, we should probably know the transformation it goes through to get into our cups.
The majority of coffee beans are grown along the equator in an area called “The Bean Belt.” Beans start off as red cherries that are picked, and then go through either a wet or dry process which strips the cherries of its skin, leaving only a green bean. These beans are then sent to roasteries where they are roasted to perfection. This is the step in the process where the beans become either a dark, medium, or light roast by keeping beans near heat at different temperatures and for varying times. Lighter roasts tend to be more acidic than darker roasts, which are typically used for espresso blends.
There are two primary beans that are produced and then roasted–the arabica and robusta beans. Let’s first take a look at the more popular of the two. The arabica bean constitutes 70% of the coffee beans consumed around the world and grows in higher altitudes with cool, subtropical climates. These beans tend to have a sweeter taste than robusta, with hints of berries and sugar.
Robusta beans on the other hand grow in lower altitudes and are cheaper to produce and roast. However, they have a more bitter taste that is sometimes described as rubbery. This bean makes up the remaining thirty-percent of beans produced yearly and is more caffeinated that its counterpart.
So now we know how the beans are picked and processed and the different kinds there are, but is drinking coffee a good thing? In a report completed by the Mayo Clinic it’s stated that, “studies have shown that coffee may have health benefits, including protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease, including liver cancer.” These benefits are great, but are only applicable to eight ounce cups of coffee that are consumed numerous times throughout the day. Coffee that is unfiltered when brewed, such as through the french press, contain an oily compound called cafestol which can lead to an increase in bad cholesterol.
The benefits of coffee can also be canceled out when excessive amounts of cream and sugar are added to it because of increased amounts of calories. This doesn’t mean that coffee has negative effects on our health, but we do need to be careful about the ways we drink our coffee.
The process of producing coffee can be long, but the benefits we receive from it are worth it– especially the increase in energy after drinking it– with the effects that coffee has on our bodies being more beneficial than harmful. For all of the non-coffee drinkers out there, don’t sweat it, it’s ok not to drink coffee. But if I were you, I’d robusta move on down to the grocery store or local coffee shop and buy some arabica beans. Once you drink some of this rad drink, you’ll automatically think, “where’s this bean all my life?” You won’t regret it.