If you are one of the millions of Americans who enjoy a daily cup of coffee, you’re certainly not alone. According to the 2020 Atlas of American Coffee released by the National Coffee Association, 62% of Americans drink coffee every day, and 70% drink coffee every week.
Even though coffee consumption has been on the rise since 2015 and it is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, it is not always easy to know what is fact and what is fiction regarding our favorite morning beverage. There is seemingly endless information on the internet about the health benefits and risks of drinking coffee, as well as the best ways to buy, prepare, and store it. Read on to find out what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to coffee.
Coffee is addictive
We’re starting with a tough one! This statement contains a little bit of fact and fiction because coffee contains caffeine. Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee, tea, cacao, and more than 60 other plant species. When ingested, caffeine stimulates your brain and central nervous system which helps you feel alert. Caffeine connects to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them, essentially blocking the neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired.
Because caffeine is a stimulant, regular use can cause a mild physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if you typically drink more than two cups per day and suddenly stop. Because caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headache and fatigue are not severe most experts do not consider dependence on caffeine an addiction. Decaffeinated coffee is an excellent option for coffee lovers looking to reduce caffeine intake while keeping coffee in their diet. Kauai Coffee offers a variety of Swiss Water® process decaffeinated coffee.
Coffee causes insomnia
Another tricky one thanks to caffeine! For most people, caffeine is absorbed and processed by the body in a matter of hours. So, for most coffee-drinking adults, a cup or two of coffee in the morning isn’t likely to affect sleep or cause insomnia. However, for people more sensitive to the effects of caffeine drinking coffee in the afternoon or evening may keep you awake longer than you would like.
Boiling water makes coffee better
Making a great cup of coffee takes a lot of practice and a little bit of science. The scientific process of brewing coffee requires manipulating water temperature and time to extract flavor compounds from roasted and ground coffee beans. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly lower at higher elevations. If you use water that is more than 205 degrees to make a cup of coffee, it can over-extract oils and flavor compounds from the beans resulting in a bitter, unappealing cup. On the other hand, if you use cooler water and don’t allow enough time to extract flavor from the beans, the result can be sour or flavorless. For best results, bring water to a boil, set it aside, and cool to a temperature between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water is ready steep ground coffee in a Chemex, French Press, or pour over brewer and enjoy.
Coffee is dehydrating
As we discussed above, caffeine is a stimulant that affects your central nervous system and can also act as a diuretic. However, a prepared cup of coffee is mostly water, and the fluid you consume while drinking coffee offsets any fluid loss caused by caffeine consumption. In short, drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee in moderation doesn’t cause dehydration, so you can enjoy that morning cup or two without guilt or worry.
The best place to store coffee is in the freezer
We know many coffee drinkers who swear that keeping coffee in the refrigerator or freezer preserves the taste and freshness of the beans. Unfortunately, this is fiction for a few reasons. The natural oils and flavor compounds present in roasted coffee beans are released during the brewing process when introduced to the right combination of temperature, water, and time. In other words, exposing coffee beans to air, heat, or humidity when you aren’t trying to brew them will compromise the flavor. Both freezers and refrigerators are cold, humid environments that are too damp for coffee beans to stay fresh.
Additionally, coffee beans are porous. When kept in the refrigerator or freezer they can absorb odors or get freezer burned. The best thing to do with fresh coffee beans is to brew them! If you need to store them, keep them in an airtight container inside a cool, dark cabinet or pantry.
Coffee stunts your growth
Myth, legend, old wives’ tale? It’s not clear where this coffee tall tale originated, but there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that coffee stunts growth. So, while coffee isn’t responsible for shortcomings in the height department, experts encourage teens and young adults to consume caffeine responsibly and limit drinks with high sugar or fat content.
Coffee can combat a hangover
Once again, this myth is more about caffeine than it is coffee. While the stimulating effects of caffeine may make you feel more alert after one too many alcoholic beverages, coffee cannot help you sober up or cure a hangover. In fact, college students who drank both caffeine and alcohol were more likely to have car accidents. The best way to prevent a hangover is to drink responsibly and not get one in the first place.
Dark roasts have more flavor and less caffeine
As a coffee connoisseur, you may have heard that dark roast coffee has less caffeine and more flavor than medium or light roast coffees. If so, we get to bust another myth for you! Scientific research concludes that caffeine is very stable during roasting. Even during a dark roast, the internal temperature of the beans does not get hot enough to remove a large amount of caffeine. Dark roast coffee may have slightly less caffeine than light or medium roasts, but there is not a significant difference.
Now, let’s talk about flavor. Dark roast coffees often have more nutty and chocolatey characteristics, but that doesn’t mean medium and light roasted coffees lack flavor. Lighter roasts maintain a lot of acidic, fruity, earthy, and even spicy undertones. Light and medium roast coffees can be truly complex and flavorful. Try these medium roast Kauai Coffees to experience a range of depth and flavor.
- Medium Roast Peaberry – Sweet and fragrant with hints of lemon.
- Medium Roast Typica – Sweet and delicately complex with lingering hints of sweet, ripe berries.
- Red Catuai – Medium roast with a sweet finish and hint of cardamom
- Big Braddah’s Coffee – Medium roast with hints of sweet fruit, well-balanced acidity, and a syrupy, full-bodied mouthfeel.
All coffee has the same amount of caffeine
While roasting may not significantly affect the level of caffeine in the beans, not all coffee beverages are created equal when it comes to caffeine content. A standard 12-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains approximately 120 to 135 milligrams of caffeine. A traditional espresso shot has about 65 to 80 milligrams of caffeine. So, if you’re feeling tired and in need of a pick-me-up, a regular cup of coffee will provide you with more caffeine than the ever-tempting espresso or cappuccino!
Coffee isn’t healthy
Last but not least, how does coffee affect our health? On any given day, you can find several news articles praising the health benefits of drinking coffee and several others warning of the risks hiding inside your cup. So, how are you supposed to know what is fact and fiction? Here are a few things we know.
Coffee is rich in several potent antioxidants, including hydrocinnamic acid and polyphenols, both known to disarm free radicals and protect against aging. Other limited evidence suggests that the caffeine present in coffee can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and dementia. Caffeine may also help increase your metabolism and fat-burning potential.
On the flip side, caffeine has been linked to side effects such as anxiety, restlessness, irregular heartbeat, and insomnia. In the end, how coffee and caffeine affect you is personal. Monitor your health and enjoy responsibly.
Do you have any other coffee facts or fiction you’d like to share? Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love to know what myths you’ve heard and if you’ve done any myth-busting on your own!