Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Coffee's Health Benefits...and How to Taste It!

Read the full article, "The Buzz About Coffee," from the November issue of REFLECTIONS here.

By Allyson Marrs
 The Benefits

As if it’s not enough that coffee keeps the human population moving forward and working harder, studies have shown that it may be doing one better. It’s filled with antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids, helping brain function and a slew of other things. But like all good things in life, moderation is key. At least, nine out of 10 doctors would say so.

Caffeine overload can be associated with cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure, and if you add a bit too much cream or sugar, your waistband will not be happy.

All that aside, if you sip sensibly, you can be on the receiving end of much more than a caffeine buzz.

Lowered depression risk: Because caffeine modulates the release of mood-related transmitters, it’s said to help with depression in women. A study done at Harvard University said women who drink two cups a day have a 15 percent lower risk of feeling depressed.

Lowered prostate cancer risk: Harvard also did a study for the men, revealing that fellas who drink an average of six cups a day have a 60 percent lower chance of developing a dangerous form of prostate cancer, and 20 percent lower odds for other forms.

Lowered Parkinson’s risk: Courtesy of research done by the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease,” two to three cups of a coffee a day could lower men’s risk of developing Parkinson’s by 25 percent. It hasn’t shown much difference in women, possibly because estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to metabolize.

Lowered diabetes risk: Because of the antioxidants, coffee offers some cardiovascular protection, specifically related to type 2 diabetes, with heavy coffee drinkers being half as likely to develop the disease.

Gallstones: Because coffee alters the cholesterol content of the bile produced by the liver, coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from symptomatic gallstone disease.

If you haven’t heard the rumored origin of coffee, knowing it may help your belief in its powerful effects. Supposedly, Ethiopian shepherds first noticed the effects of caffeine when their goats appeared to become frisky and “dance” after eating nearby coffee berries. Really, whichever shepherd decided to test this theory was clearly one brave man. Now, coffee is the second-most-traded commodity on earth. All of our thanks can go to the goats.

The Tasting

Luna’s resident coffee expert, Manager Chris Mitchell, knows what goes into a great cup o’ joe. More than that, he knows the proper way to taste the beverage to get the full experience of dreamy goodness. If you ever have questions about coffee, tastings or Luna’s brewing process, pop on in and ask for Chris.

Step One: The Grind
Always start with freshly ground coffee. The fresher the grind, the more flavorful your coffee will be! Make sure the grind is suited for your brewer. Too course, and your coffee will be weak and bland. Too fine, and you’ll be chewing your coffee. Also, fresh ground coffee first thing in the morning is the best smell. Ever.

Step Two: The Portion
To get the perfect cup of coffee, you should be using 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 8 ounces of water.

Step Three: Brewing Temperature
Most home brewers maintain a temperature of 195-205 degrees, and this is optimal for flavor extraction. If your water is too cold, your coffee will be flat and under-extracted. Too hot, and you will lose the quality of flavor. If you are brewing manually, let the water come to a full boil, but don’t over-boil. Allow the water to rest for a minute before pouring it over your grinds.

Step Four: The Aroma
As with wines, the aroma of the coffee adds another layer of depth to your tasting experience. Really get your nose in there and take a deep whiff. A good dark roast will have a robust aroma with hints of chocolate, while a lighter roast should be aromatic with a nutty undertone.

Step Five: The Taste
As you would sip a wine, you would also sip coffee, allowing the java to cover your entire palate. With a dark roast, you should be able to detect the smoky sweetness up front, with a nice, bittersweet chocolate finish. Your lighter roasts will have a more astringent, citrus taste up front with a nutty finish, mirroring the smell. Try pairing your coffees with various snacks like chocolate, lemon cake or shortbread to really bring out each bean’s unique flavor!

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