International Coffee Day Extols the Greatest Beverage Ever Created
September 29th and October 1st are all about coffee! These days are recognized as National and International Coffee Day in many countries, a well-deserved holiday that gives us an opportunity to look at exactly why coffee is so popular and what benefits it affords drinkers.
The health benefits of coffee
Coffee is first and foremost a caffeine delivery system for most people. We brew a fresh pot to get us up and running in the morning and keep on drinking throughout the day to stay alert, even in the face of the dreaded afternoon slump.
Caffeine is linked with everything from alertness, to memory improvement, to increased reaction times and even general mental function. And while the mental stimulation of caffeine is great by itself, there are even more physical benefits that stem from consuming a few cups of coffee each day. It’s a fat-burner that enhances your metabolic rate and a stimulant that increases adrenaline, not to mention an energy-booster! Basically, each cup of coffee you consume is an ‘all systems go’ call to action for your mind and body!
And caffeine is just the tip of the iceberg! There are several other major health benefits contained within your cup of coffee that you may not ever have realized:
- Roasted coffee contains several essential nutrients, including vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (magnesium and niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and potassium, among others.
- Coffee contains rich antioxidants that may help prevent a wide range of diseases and illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, colon and liver cancers, and even Parkinson’s disease!
Let’s also not forget to overlook the little things when it comes to coffee’s positive impact on our lives. It’s been known to help improve headaches, diminish symptoms of depression and even keep us regular! At this rate, coffee is looking (and tasting) like the elixir of the gods!
Coffee vs. the caramel macchiato
Coffee may be packed to the brim of the cup with benefits, but its goodness may be easily diminished if you get too creative with your drink order. In the age of Starbucks signature drinks and creative cappuccinos, the more you put in your coffee, the more you’re actually doing your body a disservice.
Ever wonder why a caramel macchiato from your favorite coffee shop tastes so much better than black coffee with a dab of cream and sugar? Spoiler alert: It’s because the flavored syrups used to craft these drinks are almost pure sugar! Each pump in your favorite coffee concoction is actively working to reverse the benefits of good ‘ol black coffee.
If you want to reap the benefits of coffee but are having a hard time giving up your Pumpkin Spice Latte, there are a few compromises you can make that’ll help you develop a taste for plain Jane coffee in the long run:
- Ask for drinks with half the pumps of flavoring. You’ll still get the flavor you love, but without the overwhelming rush of sugar. There’s also a few other ways you can try to reduce sugar intake.
- Try different, healthier variations of your drink, such as with nonfat milk, almond or soy milk, or no foam.
- Drink a smaller size or fewer specialty drinks throughout the day. You’ll save money and wean yourself off the sugar!
Still struggling to love black coffee? Consider sprucing it up with some natural honey, agave or a splash of coconut milk to give it some flair. You might also try a different roast to get a feel for different flavor profiles and acidities.
Should you put butter in your coffee?
One thing you might not be accustomed to putting in your coffee is butter. That’s right: Butter. Now, before you shake your head in wonderment, it’s important to understand the concept behind ‘butter coffee.’
Putting butter in coffee is a new trend that’s been shown to jumpstart autophagy. Autophagy is the body’s natural process of recycling damaged and garbage parts of a cell into basic components that can be rebuilt and reused elsewhere. Basically, it’s the body’s way of cleaning house. Butter and coffee play a role because they represent a collagen and a stimulant: Two of the primary catalysts for autophagy, alongside fasting.
The theory behind butter coffee is that drinking a cup in the morning (while fasting) will induce autophagy. Evangelists of butter coffee report feeling full despite not eating, as well as more alert and happier in the morning.
We’re still learning about the science of autophagy and the jury is still out on butter coffee, but the dots definitely connect. It combines the many benefits of our beloved black coffee with the body’s natural cellular rejuvenation process. Oh, and it tastes pretty amazing too! What’s not to like?
Brew a cup and reap the benefits
Famed explorer Juan Ponce de León set out to look for the fabled Fountain of Youth in 1513 and, to the best of our knowledge, never found it. Unfortunately for him, coffee didn’t become a world-famous beverage until the mid-1500s, otherwise he might’ve just been able to brew himself a cup instead.