10 Things You Need to Know About Coffee
by Live Science Staff | March 07, 2013 02:48pm ET
Nectar of the Gods or Poison?
Coffee is one of the world's most widely consumed beverages, yet it's effects are still debated. Scientists and epicurians have long made claims about this fragrant brew. Will it kill you or make you live longer? What makes the perfect cup? Is decaf really decaf? And who enjoyed the first cup of java?
1. Caffeine Can Kill You
But you'd have to drink 80 to 100 cups in a hurry, health experts say. We advise not trying.
2. Coffee Can Be Good For You
A study shows that Americans get most of their antioxidants from their daily fix of java. One to two cups a day appear to be beneficial. Or, if you don't like coffee, try black tea, the second most consumed antioxidant source. Bananas, dry beans, and corn wrap up the top five.
3. Caffeine Might Boost Female Sex Drive
It worked on rats anyway. But researchers say in humans, coffee might enhance the sexual experience only among people who are not habitual users.
4. Caffeine Might Cut Pain
Moderate doses of caffeine — the equivalent of two cups of coffee— can cut post-gym muscle pain, a small study found. But the research was done on people who were not regular coffee drinkers.
5. Caffeine Can Indeed Keep You Up at Night
Health experts advise avoiding it for 6 hours before bedtime.
6. Decaf Coffee Has Caffeine!
If you drink five to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee, you could get as much caffeine as from one or two cups of caffeinated coffee, a study found.
7. Decaffeination Uses Chemicals
Beans are steamed, so that dissolved caffeine rises to the surface, where it is washed off using an organic solvent called methylene chloride.
8. Caffeine Is Not The Bitter Culprit
Caffeine is not the main bitter compound in coffee. Rather, the pungent perpetrators are antioxidants.
9. Great Coffee Depends on Roasting and Brewing
When it comes to great flavor, coffee chemistry boils down to roasting and brewing. During roasting, oil locked inside the beans begins to emerge at around 400 degrees. The more oil, the stronger the flavor. Caffeine content goes up as the water spends more time in contact with the grounds, so regular coffee often has more of it than espresso or cappuccino. Darker roasts also yield more caffeine.
10. Coffee Was Discovered by Goats
A millennium ago on a mountainside in Africa, a herd of goats kept a shepherd up at night after feasting on red coffee berries. The shepherd took his animals' discovery to some monks, and very long prayer sessions ensued. It's a good story, anyway.
Live Science Staff
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