Total Pageviews

Monday, June 20, 2016


While hot beverages now have officially been placed on the warning list for being carcinogenic, coffee and tea appear now to have a range of health benefits that warrant your high consideration.  Just don't drink them too hot.

Coffee and tea are unrelated plants.  Coffee is brewed from the seed, mistakenly called beans, from two types of Rubiaceae tree of the genus coffae:
  • Arabica:  75-80%, with caffeine content of 0.8-1.4% and
  • Robusta:  20%, with caffeine from 1.7-4%.
First found in Yemen more than 500 years ago, the origins could well have been in the Kaffa Province of Ethiopia.  However, the name coffee, could have derived from the Arab qahwah, Turkish kahveh or Italian caffe.

Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee in the U.S.  As a nation, we import the most coffee, probably now at 10 pounds/capita for $10 billion.  Americans consume the most coffee at 400 million cups/day, or 146 billion/year.  However, we don't even crack the top 15 in terms of consumption/capita (cups/day/person):
  • #1  The Netherlands, 2.41
  • #2  Finland, 1.85
  • #3  Sweden, 1.24
U.S.?  #16 with 0.93.

Brazil produces the most coffee at around 6 billion pounds/year.  Vietnam is #2 with 3.4 billion pounds.  Kona?  Maybe 3 million pounds/year, although that now represents only one-fourth of Hawaii production, with all major islands now having plantations.  Ah, but we blend with alien beans and might well market 50 million pounds with the Hawaii name.  Still, a pittance on the world market.

  • Can make you smarter.
  • Improves your energy level.
  • Burns fat.
  • Enhances physical performance.
  • Provides nutrients:   riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Niacin (B3) and assorted minerals.
  • Lowers risk (23-50%) of Type II diabetes, afflicting 300 million people worldwide.
  • Protects you from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia.
  • Aids liver function and lowers risk of cirrhosis.
  • Reduces breast cancer.
  • Fights depression.
  • Makes you happier.
  • Reduces liver and colorectal cancer.
  • Lowers risk of stroke.
  • Increases your longevity.
  • Biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet.
  • A Harvard study indicated that a sampling of 50,000 men drinking 6 cups/day reduced the chance of getting sick by 60%.
Largest coffee shop company?  Locations:
  • Starbucks  20,000
  • Dunkin Donuts  10,000
  • Tim Hortons  4,300 (Canadian)
  • Costa Coffee  1,700 (British)
Starbucks was founded in 1971 by three partners (from left, Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin and Gordon Bowker) who met as students at the University of San Francisco.  They were taught by Alfred Peet, who came from the Netherlands as a child and started in 1966 with Peet's Coffee, Tea and Spices in Berkeley.  There are now 200 or so Peet's throughout the nation.

A few words about the most commonly psychoactive substance in the world, caffeine (molecule to the right):
  • Methlxanthine alkaloid chemically related to DNA and RNA.
  • Found in sixty plant species.
  • Stimulant, and recognized for increasing personal performance and health enhancement.
  • Safe for pregnant women, up to two cups.
  • Need to drink at least 50 cups to reach a lethal dose.
  • Legal, unregulated and generally recognized as safe.
  • Disrupts sleep for some.
  • Increases blood pressure, heart rate and urine output.
  • Might be addictive.
  • Toxic to birds, dogs and cats.
A good take-off point for tea, which is mostly Camellia sinensis, with variations, an evergreen shrub, and goes back to 3000 BC in China.  While the shrub is kept short for easier harvesting--only the top 1-2 inches of the plant is picked--a tea tree can grow to more than 50 feet tall.  Here to the left is bank of the world's oldest tea tree, found in Yunnan, China.  Caffeine constitutes 3% of tea's dry weight.
You thought you knew tea (mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup)?
  • White (30-55):  wilted and unoxidized
  • Yellow (33):  unwilted and unoxidized, and allowed to yellow
  • Green (35-70):  uwilted and unoxidized
  • Oolong (50-75):  wilted, bruised and partially oxidized
  • Black (60-90):  wilted, sometimes crushed and fully oxidized (sometimes called Red)
Coffee comes in at 150-200 mg.  Why so different from the above graphic?  Not sure.  But click on this for a full list of caffeine beverages, and note that the small bottle of 5-Hour Energy you see when you check out of drugstores has 500 mg for the standard 2 oz size.  I had a terrible ordeal.  I could not sleep, but more so, the experience was frightening.  I would caution you from experimenting with drinks of this type.
China produces the most tea, about 2 million tons/year, with India #2 at 1.2 MT/Y and Kenya 0.4 MT/Y.  The story is that the British brought tea back from China, had difficulty importing it, so produced the shrub in India.  Kenya was also a colony of Great Britain.

But you'd be shocked who drinks the most tea (kg/capita/year):
  • #1  Paraguay  12.22
  • #2  Uruguay  9.66
  • #3  Argentina  6.05
  • #12  United Kingdom  2.06  (coffee now drunk at twice the volume as tea)
  • #36  Japan  0.97
  • #38  China  0.92
  • #58  India  0.64
  • #66  USA  0.53
  • #140  South Korea  0.07
  • #169  Cuba  0

So which is drunk more, tea or coffee?  The key point is that more coffee bean is harvested than tea leaves, but that it takes less of those leaves to make a cup.  Thus, the Pew Research Center reports that three cups of tea are drunk for every cup of coffee.

Not sure how accurate this is, but the best I've been able to figure out, Americans drink (cups/person/day), roughly:
What?  So much soda?  Ridiculously high, but in 1998 Americans drank more soda than water/person.  Interesting that while soda consumption has dropped, so has coffee and beer, but wine imbibition has increased.  By the way, you are supposed to produce 6.3 cups of urine/day.  As there are 4 cups/quart, do you pee a quart and a half a day?  Use judgement, of course, for sweating from exercising also depletes fluids.  In any case you probably should drink a little more water, coffee and wine, which also, it is reported, has health benefits. 

Finally, on your way to Starbucks (that female, incidentally, is Siren, a mermaid from a 16th century Norse woodcut), consider that it costs them only 20 cents/cup of coffee and 27 cents/cup of tea.  There is then the other end of the coffee spectrum. People do things for their own special reasons, so this is why Kopi Luwak can command a growing market: (compared to the average joe in a restaurant or cafe):
  • Price/cup  up to $100 ($2 to $5)
  • Price/pound of the bean  up to $600 ($3 to $10)
  • Production/year of up to 1000 pounds (6 billion pounds just in Brazil)
This is that extravagance you probably first heard mouthed by Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List.  In Indonesia a civet eats the coffee cherry, with the digestive system acting like a processing factory, removing the skin and membrane called the spermoderm (which is sweet), nicely providing the bean in the cat poop.  However, 70% of what's sold is fake and much of the real stuff now comes from caged civets.


No comments: