My phone was hopping this morning with frenzied calls from friends and customers telling me to get the Irish Times and read the front page.
It was a very interesting article that coffee is not necessarily responsible for making you alert or giving you that caffeine kick we all enjoy. My callers were in total disagreement, in panic and frantically drinking their coffee to disprove the theory… Very amusing….
According to recent research in the academic journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the study suggests that there is no real boost in our alertness after a cup of coffee. Two groups from 379 people were selected and divided into non coffee drinkers/low level users and moderate to heavy coffee drinkers. They were given either placebo or caffeine. Low level users reported no boost in alertness. For heavy users, when deprived off caffeine or receiving placebo there was a decrease in alertness or headaches. So while they may have felt better when caffeine was reintroduced there was no additional benefit to alertness only a return to baseline.
I know for many of us all the senses are tied up in the cup of coffee – the aroma, the taste, the occasion so it is obviously still a very personal experience….
So what do you make of this research and what is the best part of your coffee moment?
Although coffee has been in existence for thousands of years it’s only in the past half century that scientists have been able to identify and understand exactly what is contained in this mystical bean. An excellent article from the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal provides some inciteful information on the chemical composition of coffee and explains the many myths surrounding caffeine.
With over 1000 compounds in coffee, compared to a few hundred in chocolate or wine thanks to advancements in technology, we have a better understanding on the chemistry.
For many coffee drinking is simply a delivery of caffeine. But mother nature distributed caffeine throughout many other forms of plant life. Tea for example contains almost 3 times the concentration of caffeine than Arabica.
As humans we seek caffeine for both its stimulatory and psychological effects. For all other life forms, caffeine is a potent toxin capable of sterilisation and antifungal properties.
The caffeine content of the “Robusta” species is almost double that of the more delicate Arabica.
One common misconception in coffee is that darker roasted coffee contains a higher level of caffeine than lighter roasted coffee. The belief stems from the fact that as coffee is roasted darker, it also increases its bitterness and astringency – which many associate with caffeine, since it is bitter also.