Our Morning Boost: Coffee
Okay, maybe we are reluctant to admit this, but seniors, as well as other segments of the population, have a love affair with coffee. Before our feet even touch the floor in the morning, some of us think about the pathway to the coffee maker. Because coffee is such an integral part of some peoples’ day, let’s look at a few features of this curious drink.
Coffee seeds are housed in berries (cherries) which are grown on bushes, small trees, or trees (the type depends upon the location). After the berries are selected, picked, and dried, the inner seeds are roasted in preparation to distribute. The degree of roasting will have an affect on flavor: lightly roasted beans have a greater degree of fiber, and heavily roasted tend to produce a full-bodied experience. Other factors, such as bean density, bean grade, storage techniques, and brewing methods (percolator, automatic coffee maker, boiling) also influence taste.
There are two types of beans that coffee drinkers consume: Arabica and Robusta. Let’s look at each one more closely.
- Arabica Beans: Arabica beans are grown in highly elevated areas and are more involved to cultivate because they require specific environmental factors (like temperature and rainfall) to realize an optimal product. Subsequently, this coffee is more expensive to make. Arabica beans are developed in regions like Kenya, Zambia, Columbia, Hawaii, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Many experts believe these beans are far superior to Robusta in taste, body, and class. The brew typically yields an earthy, complex flavor devoid of bitterness. Coffee snobs (hey, the majority of us are snobby about something at one point or another in our lives) will drink nothing but Arabica coffee.
- Robusta Beans: Robusta beans are much easier to grow because they are not as dependant on environmental factors. The berries also cultivate at a faster rate, so the turnover is quicker. In short, Robusta beans are more economical and cooperative to produce. Naturally, there are different grades within the respective type, so some Robusta beans taste better than others. Still, generally speaking, they are bitterer and inferior overall to Arabica beans. Having said that, there are some wonderful Robusta blends, and certain countries mix Arabica and Robusta to produce a multifaceted personality. Countries that cultivate Robusta beans include Uganda, Vietnam, Columbia, and Brazil.
Other tidbits to know? Arabica beans contain less caffeine than Robusta; some Arabica blends do not even offer a decaffeinated version because the producers believe it unnecessary. (NOTE: No coffee, not even ones labeled decaffeinated, will be 100% free of caffeine). And, data appears to be mixed concerning senior health. Some studies indicate that coffee drinkers experience Type II diabetes and strokes at a lower incidence than non-coffee drinkers (antioxidants in the beans could be the reason). At the same time, other studies suggest that caffeine may raise blood pressure (caffeine is a stimulant).
Bottom line? Unless your physician advises against it, moderation is probably prudent; and our morning boost may be just what the doctor ordered!