You are cozily situated  in a Paris café in Montmartre or perhaps Montparnasse with a warm cup of the most delicious, rich, robust coffee you have ever had.  It’s nestled in a chalice between your palms.  The steam rises up into the cool air with a heavenly aroma that would surely rouse the most sound sleeper out of bed.  On your little table, a flaky, warm butter croissant perches on a glossy white plate just slightly to the west of the Venus Di Milo of coffees. The city buzzes all around you but instead of a car horn you hear a muted trumpet.  Instead of a police siren, a café piano. And that motorbike, a french crooner…


So what exactly is it about Coffee that keeps us coming back for more?

The most probable cause for making frequent visits to the coffee pot is addiction, as coffee contains caffeine, a known stimulant drug.  (i.e. a psychotropic substance that, in layman’s terms, acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behavior.)

Now that we know that caffeine can be an addictive substance, looking back, we’ve probably all experienced those wonderful symptoms of caffeine withdrawal!  I know that I frequently got the lovely caffeine headaches that went along with the 5 cups of coffee I needed a day to get me though grad school.  I am now about to sound like one of those dandy drug commercials on t.v. for erectile dysfunction. . .

Other symptoms that can result from withdrawal are: fatigue, drowsiness, changes in mood (such as depression and irritability), painful or stiff muscles, lack of concentration, and flu-like symptoms (such as nausea or vomiting). Withdrawal symptoms may occur from 6 to 18 hours after a sudden cessation of use of caffeine. Phew! That was a mouth full! Oh yeah, and individuals  having an erection lasting longer than 6 hours should immediately consult a medical professional.

6a00e554e81be38834010536d17c6f970c-320wiNow, contrary to my logic, we find that dark-roast coffee has less caffeine than lighter roasts.  This is actually because the roasting process reduces the bean’s caffeine content. It is also quite interesting that tea contains more caffeine than coffee, but because it is brewed much weaker, a typical serving of tea contains much less caffeine than coffee.

{Fun Fact}

I was interested (and somewhat disturbed) to learn that Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the beans, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants.  That’s sure to make you feel great as you sit down for a hot cuppa joe! “ah there’s nothing like a steaming hot cup of natural pesticide to get you out of bed in the morning!”



{The What, How and Why}

So, as a linguist, I was rather excited to discover that the coffee beverage, as we know it, comes from the roasted seeds ( inside the red or purple coffee cherry/berry) of the coffee plant.  We have been more than mistaken when using the term ‘bean’ (as the Coffee plant is not a member of the legume family at all!) Why do we use this botanically incorrect term? It seems, the world will never know. . .

What we do know, however, is that the term ‘Coffee’ first came to be used in the early to mid-1600s, but early forms of the word date to the last decade of the 1500s.  It was first introduced to Europe by the Ottoman Turkish (an empire that dates back to 1299) using the term, kahve, which was, in turn,  derived from the Arabic, qahweh.

There are several theories regarding the actual origin of the word.  Some theories state that it was derived from the name of the Kaffa region in western Ethiopia, and others suggest a truncation (shortening) of qahwat al-būnn, meaning “wine of the bean” in Arabic. 


Steaming According to the most informative WebMD in recent decades, some 19,000 studies have been done examining coffee’s impact on health. Want a drug that could lower your risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and colon cancer? That could lift your mood and treat headaches? That could lower your risk of cavities? Coffee my dear friends. . .but in the research world I have to make sure I hedge that claim (Maybe quite possibly, to some extent it seems as though it may be. . .Coffee).

So with roughly 90% of adults consuming caffeine daily in North America, there have to be some immediately tangible benefits right? Yep!

In humans, as we previously illustrated, caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, having the effect of temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. But, caffeine also has another very special property. . .it’s a diuretic! That’s right,   have some coffee and reduce that pesky water weight!

In addition to that very exciting property, American scientist Yaser Dorri has suggested that the smell of coffee can restore appetite and refresh olfactory receptors. This is why we often find coffee beans in close proximity when we are testing out high end perfumes.

{I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.  ~T.S. Eliot}

So the reason why I decided to write this particular entry is that coffee has always been a pretty big part of my life.  In fact, since I was very little I always had a penchant for eating Breyers “all natural” coffee ice cream. . .for breakfast.  You may be making a scrunched up face right now, but if we concentrate on the benefits of coffee, I was potentially improving my health with every luscious bite! (I also, can assure you that my five foot tall stature is merely the product of genetics!)


For all of you die hard coffee drinkers out there mark your calendars! October 1st is the official Coffee Day in Japan.


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If you follow these 3 simple coffee preparation tips, you’re sure to make a perfect cup of coffee for yourself, your friends, and your family each and every time.

Coffee Tip #1- Make sure your coffee pot is clean.

Coffee Tip #2 – Use Clean Filtered Water and maintain a water temperature between 195-205 degrees F.

Coffee Tip #3 – Use fresh, quality coffee (Professional coffee tasters use exactly two tablespoons of ground coffee for each six ounces of water). 

{Till next time: Eat Well, Stay Safe, Be Happy!}