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All about “Coffee”

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Health profile

The coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. It is grown in more than 70 countries, the two main world producers being Brazil and Colombia. Canada’s climate does not allow coffee growing, but a lot of imported grain is processed there. It is estimated that Canadians drink more than 15 billion cups of coffee per year. The average coffee consumer drinks three cups a day. Contrary to popular belief, coffee contains vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidant compounds .

Active ingredients and properties

Bioactive compounds
Coffee contains more than a dozen bioactive compounds, most of which are formed during the roasting process of the grain. Three of them are there in great concentration and are important from a physiological point of view. These are caffeine , diterpene alcohols and phenolic compounds known for their antioxidant effects 1 .

  • Caffeine . This compound is by far the best characterized so far in coffee. In the United States, it is estimated that 75% of the caffeine consumed comes from coffee 2 . In Canada, this amount has been estimated at 60% 3 . The rest comes from tea, chocolate, energy drinks, etc.The caffeine content of coffee varies depending on the type of beans, the roasting method and the method of preparation of the coffee (for more details, see our Caffeine fact sheet). Caffeine is mainly known for its stimulating effects 4. In healthy adults, a small amount can increase alertness and concentration. In other people, however, it can cause unwanted biological effects such as insomnia, headaches, irritability and nervousness. According to Health Canada, in adults, caffeine consumed in moderation (three cups of coffee per day) does not cause any undesirable effects, particularly with regard to behavior (anxiety, attention span), cardiovascular health or cancer 3 .
  • Diterpene alcohols . The coffee bean contains naturally and significant amount of diterpene alcohols, the cafestol and kahweol . These compounds, present in the oils of coffee beans, are released on contact with hot water. They would raise cholesterol levels 5 . Depending on the method of preparation, the coffee will contain more or less diterpenes. For example, boiled coffee contains 1.2 mg to 18 mg cafestol and kahweol per 100 ml while espresso coffee contains 0.2 mg to 4.5 mg. Filter coffee, on the other hand, hardly contains any (from 0 mg to 0.1 mg).
  • Antioxidants . Coffee contains several antioxidant compounds . Given the frequency of its consumption, it can contribute significantly to the antioxidant capacity of the diet. In this regard, a Norwegian study shows that coffee is the diet food that contributes the most to the total antioxidant intake in this population 6 .A study has shown that the antioxidant capacity of plasma increases significantly following the ingestion of a single cup of filter coffee (200 ml) 7 . This suggests that coffee would probably exert its preventive effect on certain diseases thanks to its antioxidant power 5. Among the antioxidant compounds in coffee are phenolic compounds, including some volatile substances produced during roasting. These volatile substances are attributed to the characteristic smell of coffee , 9 .Phenolic compounds . Coffee contains large amounts of phenolic acids, including caffeic and chlorogenic acids . A 7 oz (approximately 200 ml) cup of coffee provides 70 mg to 350 mg of phenolic acid 10 . By way of comparison, blueberries, cherries, plums, apples and kiwis, which are the fruits richest in phenolic acids of the same family as those of coffee, contain 10 mg to 230 mg per serving of 100 g to 200 g 10. Several researchers believe that caffeic and chlorogenic acids are largely responsible for the antioxidant effect of coffee , 7 .Coffee contains appreciable amounts of lignans, phenolic compounds widely found in plants. Lignans are converted to enterolignans by intestinal bacteria and then enter the bloodstream 11 . Lignans act as antioxidants and are associated, in humans, with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers 12 .

Health effects of coffee

Most of the data on the link between coffee consumption and the reduction of chronic diseases has been obtained from epidemiological studies . According to some researchers, these results should be interpreted with caution, as they may involve methodological biases 13 . For example, the way to calculate the amount of coffee and caffeine consumed daily can vary greatly from one study to another (variation in the size of a cup of coffee, the duration of brewing, the type of beans used , etc.). In addition, certain “confounding” factors such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, often associated with heavy consumption of coffee, are not always well evaluated.

It should be borne in mind that coffee is only one of the risk modulators of certain diseases . Despite certain benefits linked to its consumption, it remains prudent, in a public health context, to recommend moderation . This means, in more concrete terms, consuming three cups of coffee a day or 400 mg to 450 mg of caffeine daily. According to Health Canada, this amount does not represent a danger to human health 14 .

Type 2 diabetes
The majority of epidemiological studies published to date indicate that coffee, consumed in large quantities, would reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A meta-analysis identified data from nine prospective studies grouping close to 200,000 participants. It shows that the consumption of six cups of coffee a day and more reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 35%, compared to less than two cups a day 15 . Drinking four to six cups lowers the risk by 28%.

In addition, a recent literature review coupled with a meta-analysis demonstrated that the risk of type 2 diabetes decreased until reaching maximum protection at 6 cups of coffee per day 59 .

It is not possible, using data from this type of study, to propose a mechanism of action, or to establish a cause and effect link. However, it has been speculated that the chlorogenic acid present in coffee may interfere with the action of an enzyme whose function is to release glucose into the blood 16 . Chlorogenic acid could also decrease the intestinal absorption of glucose by blocking its transport to the membrane of the intestine 17 . As for caffeine, it would not be responsible for the beneficial effect that coffee provides since decaffeinated coffee also decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes 18,19 .

The clinical studies are rather divided on the effect produced by coffee consumption on some indicators of diabetes. This is what the authors of a review article published in 2006 report 11. Thus, certain data show that coffee would improve the sensitivity of cells to insulin and the metabolism of glucose following the intake of a meal or a sweet drink. Other data indicate rather that the consumption of coffee would have no effect on the concentrations of fasting glucose or insulin and even on markers of the insulin sensitivity. Most of these studies were done over a short period (one day). Only controlled and randomized clinical studies, carried out over longer periods, will make it possible to clearly establish the link between coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease
The effect of coffee consumption on the risk of cardiovascular disease has been the subject of a very large number of studies over the past forty years, but the subject remains controversial. It is still difficult to establish clearly whether coffee is harmful or beneficial for heart health.

Coffee contains a multitude of chemical compounds whose effects can be opposite. Studies seem to show that the presence or not of a protective effect could depend on the amount consumed. In addition, the method of preparation of coffee (filter or boiled) would have an influence on the cardiovascular risk 1 . The results of a meta-analysis of 14 studies show that boiled coffee, compared to filter coffee, increases the levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) 20 . This increase is more significant in people with already high cholesterol. The boiled coffee contains high amounts of cafestol and kahweol. These two compounds are responsible for the increase in cholesterol in the blood. The use of a filter paper during the preparation of coffee makes it possible to significantly reduce the concentrations, since the filter captures the majority of cafestol and kahweol 5 .

Coffee contains antioxidants and other substances that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people who consume  moderate amounts of filter coffee . This is at least what the authors of a summary article published in 2007 21 report . A recent meta-analysis carried out in 2014 once again demonstrated that moderate consumption of coffee (3 to 5 cups per day) was inversely associated with cardiovascular risk 58 . It would be mainly the  polyphenols  in coffee that would have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health 1 .

Caffeine, on the other hand, would not bring any benefit in this regard. It even has deleterious effects, according to some researchers 1 . A recent study has highlighted the major role of caffeine in increasing cardiovascular risk 22 . Caffeine is also associated with an increase in blood pressure, a cardiovascular risk factor. However, the consumption of coffee (which does not contain only caffeine) would not have a negative impact, probably because of the protective effect of its other compounds 23 , 24 .

In conclusion, it seems increasingly clear that a large consumption of unfiltered coffee (more than six cups a day) is harmful to the heart. However, moderate consumption of coffee, mainly filter coffee, may have some benefits. This is due, among other things, to the presence of antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols. These would counteract the harmful effects of caffeine and the compounds found in coffee oil (cafestol and kahweol) 1 .

According to epidemiological data, coffee consumption is linked to a reduction in the risk of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer and gastric cancer.

Evidence from  breast cancer  shows that consuming four or more cups of coffee a day in postmenopausal women reduces the risk of developing this type of cancer by 40% 25 . In this study, the same association, however, has not been demonstrated in postmenopausal women or in women consuming less than four cups of coffee a day 25 . A genetic study published in 2006 shows that women with one of the two genetic mutations that predispose to breast cancer and who consume six or more cups of coffee per day are significantly less likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not drink coffee 26 .

On the other hand, a recent meta-analysis on the relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of breast cancer did not show any link except in women with non-hormone-dependent breast cancer where coffee consumption decreased the risk 61 .

On the relationship between coffee and the risk of  colorectal cancer , the authors of a meta-analysis 27  mention that the data seem to indicate that coffee consumption reduces this risk. They warn, however, that the lack of consensus between the various  epidemiological studies  does not allow such a link to be established with certainty.

Finally, a recent meta-analysis published in 2013 demonstrated that coffee consumption was inversely linked to the risk of endometrial cancer  .

Liver diseases
Several studies show that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of liver damage, particularly cirrhosis 13 and alcoholic liver cirrhosis 29 . According to some authors, this effect is attributable to caffeine 30 . Others associate the protective effect of coffee with its content of phenolic acids , antioxidant compounds which act in concert with caffeine 31 .

A large prospective study, carried out on a cohort of more than 125,000 subjects, shows that the risk of developing alcoholic hepatic cirrhosis is inversely linked to coffee consumption. Heavy coffee drinkers (four cups or more per day) would be better protected than small drinkers (three cups or less per day) 29 . In this study, coffee consumption was also linked to a lower prevalence of elevated liver enzymes (markers of liver damage) in the blood. In a previous study, the same authors had shown a reduction in the risk of death from hepatic cirrhosis in coffee drinkers. The risk was reduced by 22% per cup of coffee consumed per day 32 .

Data from a US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has linked high coffee consumption (more than two cups a day) to a lower risk of chronic liver disease in people at risk liver problems 33 . Finally, the results of a meta-analysis of nine studies published between 2002 and 2007 show that coffee consumption (an increase of two cups per day) is associated with a 43% reduction in the risk of liver cancer 34 . It is important to mention that these are epidemiological studiesand that no mechanism of action could be discovered in these studies, which limits the interpretation of the results. In addition, even if the coffee was protective on the hepatic level, the best approach to reduce the risk of cirrhosis of the alcoholic type of liver remains the reduction of alcohol consumption.

Coffee acts on several processes involved in the formation of lithiasis or gallstones (commonly called “stones”). Epidemiological data show that coffee and caffeine have protective effects against the formation of gallstones, but these results are not unanimous in the scientific community. While some authors report that a high consumption of coffee decreases the risk of gallstones, others observe rather an increased risk with a high consumption 35 .

A prospective study carried out on a cohort of nearly 81,000 women followed for a period of 20 years has shown that the consumption of four or more cups of coffee per day is associated with a 25% reduction in the risk of cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder biliary) 36 . In this study, a decrease in the risk of cholecystectomy was also observed with the consumption of caffeine, but not with the consumption of decaffeinated coffee.

A prospective study in more than 46,000 men shows a significant decrease in the risk of gallstones in those who consume four or more cups of coffee per day 37 . However, this protective role of coffee has not been observed in all studies. Research in Japanese men, for example, shows an approximately twice as high prevalence of gallbladder disorders among heavy consumers of coffee (more than five cups per day) or caffeine (more than 300 mg per day), compared those who consume less than 100 mg per day 38. Data from a study conducted in the United States, from 1988 to 1994, in nearly 14,000 subjects, show that the prevalence of gallbladder disorders is not associated with coffee consumption, as much in men than woman 39 .

Several factors, both genetic and environmental, can be associated with the formation of gallstones. The role of coffee or caffeine should be further analyzed in order to better assess its importance in the incidence of this health problem.

Parkinson’s disease
Most large epidemiological studies show that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, particularly in men 13 . The results of a major meta-analysis point in the same direction 40. Recently, researchers analyzed data from approximately 6,700 subjects who participated in a prospective study and whose follow-up was spread over a period of 22 years. They observed that drinking ten or more cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of Parkinson’s by 74%. This decrease was 38% among people who consumed four to nine cups of coffee a day, compared to those who did not. This association was even stronger in obese people 41 .

A recent literature review carried out in 2013 demonstrated that drinking coffee decreases the risk of Parkinson’s disease. This effect was at its maximum at 3 cups per day 62 .

Both genetic and environmental factors appear to be associated with the onset of Parkinson’s disease. The oxidative stress could be one of the mechanisms involved in the evolution of the disease. Coffee, thanks to its antioxidant content, would provide some protection 41 .

Consumption of regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee is associated with a decrease in the incidence of gout. Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in adults. It is characterized by increased levels of uric acid in the blood and is manifested by acute inflammatory attacks, often to the big toe. A recent prospective study, carried out over a 12-year period in more than 45,000 North American men, shows that an increase in coffee consumption reduces the risk of gout 42. For example, people who consume four to five cups of coffee a day and those who consume more than six cups reduce their risk of gout by 40% and 59%, respectively, compared to those who do not. .

A decrease in risk was also observed with decaffeinated coffee, but not with caffeine. This suggests that a substance other than caffeine (perhaps one or more antioxidant compounds) plays a role in the observed effect. A second prospective study, based on data from 14,000 participants representative of the American adult population, shows that the consumption of coffee and decaffeinated coffee, but not caffeine, is associated with a significant decrease in the concentration of uric acid in the blood 43 .

These results are very interesting, but it should be borne in mind that these are epidemiological studies and that several important variables, known to influence the appearance of gout, could not be controlled. Only randomized, well-controlled clinical studies will determine whether coffee actually decreases the risk of gout.

Sports performance . Caffeine has shown beneficial effects on sports performance, in particular by increasing lipolysis and preserving glycogen reserves during exercise. Caffeine also has possible effects on adrenaline, muscle contraction and the central nervous system by decreasing the feeling of fatigue and increasing endurance. Caffeine would be effective during short efforts of very high intensity or endurance 3. The impact is felt within an hour of ingestion. It is very important to check its tolerance before consuming it because each person can react differently. Indeed, some side effects such as irritability, tremors, gastrointestinal discomfort can occur in people who do not have a good tolerance for caffeine. An average intake of 3 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight would be the optimal dose to achieve the desired effects.

Other properties

Is coffee antioxidant? No data available
Does coffee have a high glycemic load? There is no glycemic load for coffee. Brewed coffee does not contain carbohydrates.

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

Excellent source Magnesium . Espresso coffee is an excellent source of magnesium for women and a good source for men (man’s magnesium requirements are greater than those of women). Magnesium participates in bone development, protein construction, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.

Excellent source Vitamin B3 . Coffee espresso is an excellent source of vitamin B3. Also called niacin , vitamin B3 participates in many metabolic reactions and contributes particularly to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and alcohol that we ingest. It also collaborates in the DNA formation process , allowing normal growth and development.

Good source Vitamin B2 . Brewed coffee and espresso are good sources of vitamin B2 for women and sources for men (man’s needs for vitamin B2 are greater than those of women). Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin . Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.

Source Copper . Coffee espresso is a source of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes , copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues). Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals .

Source Pantothenic acid . Brewed coffee is a source of pantothenic acid. Also called vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme allowing the body to adequately use the energy from ingested food. It is also involved in several stages of the production of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin.

What is a “portion” of coffee worth?
Volume / weight Brewed coffee, 250 ml / 250 g Espresso coffee, restaurant preparation, 100 ml / 101 g Regular soluble coffee 250 ml / 253 g
Calories 3.0 2.0 5.0
Protein 0.3 g 0.1g 0.3 g
Carbohydrates 0.0 g 0.0 g 0.9 g
Fat 0.0 g 0.2g 0.0 g
Dietary fiber 0.0 g 0.0 g 0.0 g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File, 2007.

Fiber in coffee?
Coffee beans are rich in dietary fiber . A certain amount would be found in the coffee prepared. At least this is what a group of Spanish researchers reports which has assessed the soluble fiber content of different coffees 52 . Most nutrition facts tables indicate that coffee does not contain fiber. The data from this study rather show that espresso, filter coffee and instant coffee contain 0.65 g, 0.47 g and 0.75 g of soluble fiber, respectively, per 100 ml. It should be noted that the assay method used in the study (enzymatic method followed by dialysis) is not the current method used for assaying fibers in food.

According to this study, coffee is therefore one of the rare drinks to contain dietary fiber. Since it is consumed frequently and in relatively large quantities (two to three cups per day), coffee could thus contribute to the daily fiber intake.

Coffee contains soluble fiber 56 . Its content varying between 1.5 to 2.3 g per cup (250 ml). Soluble fiber can help prevent cardiovascular disease by decreasing the absorption of bile acids in particular 57 . They can also help control type 2 diabetes, among other things by slowing the digestion of glucose in food.

Coffees for all tastes

In North America, the most consumed type of coffee remains regular or “traditional” brewed coffee. However, consumption habits are changing rapidly and more and more amateurs are discovering new types of so-called “specialty” coffee. Here are a few examples.

  • Espresso. Coffee prepared according to a percolation process under very high pressure from a very roasted fine grind. The formation of an opaque hazelnut-colored cream which adheres to the walls of the cup is a characteristic of successful espresso.
  • Cappuccino. Coffee made up of a third of espresso, a third of heated milk and a third of milk froth which is sometimes sprinkled with cocoa or cinnamon.
  • Coffee with milk. Coffee to which an equal portion of hot milk and a little milk foam are added. It is usually served in a large cup or bowl and made from a long or double espresso, sometimes with strong filter coffee.
  • Latte coffee. Latte coffee is the Italian variant of café au lait. It is made in the same way as café au lait, but using ¼ of espresso and ¾ of hot milk. The basic element of latte coffee is always an espresso.
  • Macchiato espresso. It’s an espresso with a hint of milk froth on top.
  • Latte Macchiato. Coffee prepared by pouring hot milk followed by milk froth, in a tall, narrow and transparent glass. Espresso is then poured gently so that it is placed between the milk and the foam. The ingredients should not mix. This coffee can be served sprinkled with cocoa, cinnamon or other spices.
  • Mocha coffee. Drink prepared from a mixture of espresso, cocoa powder or chocolate syrup and frothy hot milk. To serve, garnish with whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

What about the nutritional value of these coffees?

Regular filter coffee, with no added sugar, milk or cream, provides just three calories per cup and no carbohydrates. This is not the case for certain specialized coffees, whose calorie and sugar content varies depending on the ingredients that compose them. Thus, a mocha coffee, prepared with chocolate syrup, will contain up to 140 calories and 20 g of carbohydrates per cup. A cup of café au lait and a cup of latte coffee, prepared with 2% milk, will contain 67 and 97 calories respectively, as well as 7 g and 9 g of carbohydrates (sugars from milk). These types of coffees provide at least half a serving of dairy products.


  • Gastroesophageal reflux and symptomatic hiatal hernia
    These disorders of the esophagus are characterized by burning sensations in the chest (retrosternal burns) and by acid regurgitation caused by the rise in the acid content of the stomach in the mouth. These symptoms usually appear after a meal. Certain foods can play a role in improving the sense of well-being and quality of life for people with these problems. Among other things, these people are advised to avoid eating foods rich in methylxanthines, such as coffee, chocolate, tea and cola. These foods decrease the resting tension of the lower esophageal sphincter and thus contribute to the reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus. In addition, in order to prevent irritation of the esophageal mucosa, it is recommended to avoid consuming regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee which can cause epigastric burns.
  • Gastroduodenal
    ulcer Gastroduodenal ulcer is an open lesion of the stomach lining. This lesion is often accompanied by inflammation and destruction of this mucosa. People with peptic ulcer should drink coffee in moderation since it contains methylxanthines . These can cause severe pain, especially when the coffee is consumed on an empty stomach or just before bedtime. Finally, it seems reasonable to recommend to consume with moderation the foods which, at least experimentally, increase the gastric acidity. This is the case for foods that contain methylxanthines (coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, cola) and decaffeinated drinks.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    Caffeine can exacerbate the symptoms of people with irritable bowel syndrome. It is prudent to check the effects and limit consumption, if necessary.
  • Iron absorption
    The chlorogenic acid , the major phenolic compound coffee, is a potent inhibitor of the intestinal absorption of non-heme iron, that is to say the iron present in the plant products. The results of an intervention study, carried out on healthy men, show that the quantity of phenolic compounds contained in a cup of instant (instant) coffee decreases the absorption of iron from 60% to 90% 44 . According to a synthesis of studies listing various researches in humans, the consumption of 150 ml to 250 ml of coffee taken during a meal would decrease the absorption of iron from 24% to 73% 13. A widely cited study, the Framingham Heart Study, shows that in the elderly, every cup of coffee consumed per week was associated with a 1% decrease in iron stores in the blood 45 .
  • Coffee and caffeine: risk groups
    Coffee and tea are the main sources of caffeine in adults 3 . Evidence suggests that children, women of childbearing potential, pregnant and breastfeeding women may be more vulnerable to the effects of caffeine. This, consumed in large quantities , could possibly have undesirable effects, among others on certain reproductive and development factors. Caffeine consumption of more than 300 mg per day has been associated in some studies with decreased fertility 46 , 47 . In addition, there is possibly a link between a high consumption of caffeine and a risk of spontaneous abortion 48 , 49. However, there is no consensus on this subject in the scientific literature 50 .Data from epidemiological studies are contradictory, but there is every reason to believe that moderate consumption of caffeine is not generally harmful 13 . However, as a precaution, Health Canada recommends that women of childbearing potential and pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to a maximum of 300 mg per day , the equivalent of about two 8-ounce (250 ml) cups. ) regular coffee. This recommendation also applies to women who are breastfeedingbecause caffeine can pass into breast milk, which can cause irritability in the baby and disrupt his sleep 14 , 51 .As for children , Health Canada recommends not to exceed 45 mg of caffeine per day in 4 years to 6 years, 62.5 mg per day in 7 years to 9 years, and 85 mg per day in 10 years to 12 years 14 , 51 . These recommendations were made in response to concerns about the possible effects of caffeine on the development of the nervous system 13 . Based on the results of clinical studiescontrolled, it seems that a consumption of caffeine lower than 3 mg / kg of body weight does not have a negative effect on the behavior of the child (hyperactivity, deficit of attention). In Canada, an intake of 2.5 mg / kg body weight was used as the benchmark for calculating the maximum recommended intake .

Coffee over time

”  Café  ” appeared in the French language in 1610. It derives from the Italian caffè , which borrowed it from the Arabic qahwah , pronounced from the Turkish kahve. This word is said to have various meanings, including “what keeps you awake” and “wine”, a drink prohibited in Islam and which coffee replaced. In France, we colloquially use the form caoua , derived from the Arabic for Algeria and taken over by the military in the XIX th  century.

In several languages, “coffee” means both the drink and the establishment where it is served, which testifies to the immense importance it has taken on in social life. ”  Cafeteria  “, derived from English, refers to the same reality.

We usually agree that Coffea arabica comes from Abyssinia on the edge of the Red Sea (present-day Ethiopia). We found traces of his presence dating from the VII th  century. The best known legend is that a shepherd discovered the stimulating properties of coffee after finding that his goats were more frisky when they ate the small wild berries.

Domesticated in Yemen, coffee has spread throughout the Arab world, thanks to the Sufis, it is believed, who appreciated its exciting effects. Drinking allowed them to stay awake during their long hours of practice. It is believed that it was, moreover, a Sufi scheik who first thought of roasting the grains before boiling them. Until then, we used green beans to make coffee.

Because of the ban on alcohol, coffee will become the drink of choice for Arabs. For more than two centuries, they will keep the exclusivity of its culture and its trade, boiling or drying in the sun the grains in order to kill the germ. Before the XVI th  century, no coffee only grew outside that region of the globe. Then, reckless travelers will succeed in extracting from Yemen some fertile grains to sow them in foreign land. Thus it will be introduced in Europe in the XVI th  century and America in the early XVII th  century.

Along with tea, chocolate and mate, coffee is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. And just like them, its history is linked to empires, wars and revolutions. As early as 1511, the authorities in Mecca began to burn bags of coffee in the streets of the city, in protest against the popularity of cafes in big cities like Cairo, Istanbul, Damascus and Algiers, places, according to them, debauchery and political intrigue. In 1600, Italian priests tried to have it banned by Pope Clement VIII because it was the drink of the infidels. However, after taking a cup, the Pope declared that he loved him. To counter the objections of the priests, he undertook to administer the sacrament of baptism at the cafe to legalize it …

In London in 1674 women signed a petition to ban coffee. They argued that he kept their husbands away, who preferred to stay in the establishments where he was served rather than staying at home. They also argued that it lessened their manly zeal. A year later, King Charles II wanted to close the cafes on the pretext that these establishments were places where the revolution was fomented. But the reaction of the public was such that they had to quickly abandon their project.

In Germany, we wanted to ban women, claiming that it made them sterile, which prompted Johann Sebastian Bach to write a cantata making fun of the German authorities. In Prussia, King Frederick the Great wanted to ban it, in 1775, because it interfered with the trade of beer produced in the country. In the United States, he replaced tea after the Boston Tea Party event where, outraged by the excessive taxes imposed on tea by the English, the Bostonians threw the cargo of tea from English ships anchored in the Harbor.

Two species are cultivated on a large scale, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (often called Coffea robusta , because it is the most productive variety of this species). The grains of C. arabica have a more pronounced and richer flavor, a lower caffeine content. But this species is less productive and less resistant to climatic variations as well as to insects and diseases. Despite this, 75% of world production is provided by C. arabica .

The beans of C. canephora are mainly used for the production of lower quality coffee, especially for soluble coffee. But this species provides very good Robusta. In fact, a certain proportion is needed in espresso coffee, because it is Robusta which gives this coffee its crema, this golden foam which covers it and which is a sign of quality.

Sultana coffee
Few people know this way of doing things today, which consists in brewing the shells enveloping the coffee beans. It was in use in Turkey where the Sultanas would have introduced the fashion. It appears in various old works, including the Dictionnaire de Trévoux (1704), the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert (1758) and the Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine (1873) by Alexandre Dumas Père. Unlike grains, cockles have calming effects, but to our knowledge there are no studies that have examined these effects. Some coffee producers sell it occasionally.

Although coffee is grown in more than 100 countries, 80% of total production is provided by 13 countries, namely Brazil – the world’s largest producer -, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, India , Ethiopia, Guatemala, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Costa Rica, Vietnam, El Salvador and Kenya.

The quality of the coffee varies according to the species, but also the soil, the altitude, the climate and the processing. The best coffees would be those that come from coffee trees grown at more than 1,000 m above sea level in volcanic soil. Many cultivars have been selected over the centuries.

Depending on the roasting time, the coffee beans will lose their green color to take on a blonde, brown or black color. In addition, depending on the method of preparation of coffee, we will use a more or less fine grind: ultra-fine for Turkish coffee, very fine for espresso coffee, fine for the manual filter coffee maker, a little less fine for the coffee maker with electric filter, and moderately fine or coarse for the percolator.

As with wine and tea, there are great vintages linked to specific terroirs, the best known being Blue Mountain (Jamaica), Kona (Hawaii), Moka (Ethiopia) and Java (island of Java) .

Decaffeinated coffee

About 10% of world production is decaffeinated. In Canada, the maximum caffeine content must be 0.1% for roasted coffee and 0.3% for soluble coffee 53 . There are two main processes for decaffeinating coffee beans. The mechanical process uses water, carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) or coffee oil to remove the caffeine. This would maintain the aroma and flavor of the bean and produce better quality decaffeinated coffee. Caffeine can also be extracted using solvents, such as ethyl acetate or methylene chloride. However, these chemical methods are used less and less. The type of process used must be indicated on the packaging.

Research is currently focusing on the development of varieties of coffee containing little caffeine. These varieties can be produced in a traditional way, by natural selection and crossing, or by genetic modifications 54 , 55 . This would avoid all the steps necessary for the extraction of caffeine and we would obtain a “deca” of superior quality, whose aroma and flavor would be better preserved.

Currently, researchers have successfully produced plants containing 50% to 94% less caffeine in the laboratory. In 2004, researchers discovered a coffee tree in Ethiopia with practically zero caffeine content (less than in decaffeinated soluble coffee). This discovery should lead to the selection of new cultivars producing coffee which will not require any decaffeination.

Culinary uses

To access other recipes, you can go to the kitchen recipe site, which offers, among other things, the following recipes: coffee cake, coffee éclairs, coffee ice cream

Choose well

Depending on the duration of roasting, the coffee will be soft, velvety or full-bodied. A light roast gives a reddish brown grain with a mild flavor. A medium roast produces a darker grain, with a more marked flavor (velvety). Finally, a longer roasting gives a significantly darker grain, with a full-bodied flavor reminiscent of charcoal and caramel. In Europe, there can be one or two other categories. The degree of roasting is a matter of taste. It does not change the caffeine content of the prepared drink, or its strength, which depends on the ratio between the amount of water and coffee.

Culinary dishes

aIn drink

  • To prepare a good cup of coffee , we recommend using about 2 tsp. for 180 ml of water. Cow’s milk in coffee can be replaced with soy milk . Some hate it, but others get along with it very well. The honey and maple syrup may well replace sugar, but coffee flavor will be somewhat modified.
  • Flavored coffees . There are dozens of pre-flavored coffees, but foodies argue that it’s best to flavor your coffee yourself. You can, for example, add almond or vanilla extract to freshly brewed coffee. You can also, before adding the water, add a vanilla pod, cardamom pods, cloves, fennel or anise seeds to the ground coffee. Or sprinkle the hot coffee with cinnamon or ground nutmeg.
  • Iced coffee. Flavor freshly brewed coffee with a few drops of vanilla or almond extract, mix in equal parts with milk and pour into a glass filled with ice cubes.
  • Mocha coffee . Mix hot chocolate and hot coffee in equal parts. Add milk or cream, cocoa powder and ground cinnamon. To the devil: add a little hot pepper.
  • Ice coffee. Let the strong coffee cool, then add ice and, if desired, sugar, milk or cream. Or place in a blender half a cup of cold or room temperature coffee with a piece of banana, yogurt, one or two ice cubes and, if desired, a spoonful of wheat germ.

In food

Kopi luak
In Indonesia, we produce a very special coffee, kopi luak, which comes from beans consumed by a small animal, the civet . After eating the healthiest and most ripe beans, the civet drains the partially digested and fermented grains in its excrement. Harvested and cleaned by the producers, they take, it seems, a particular flavor, much appreciated by Indonesians. Is it an urban legend? One thing is certain, this coffee is selling a small fortune.
  • Add a few spoonfuls of ground coffee to a Thai sauce or marinade ; marinate pieces of chicken breast for a few hours or overnight . Drain the chicken and cook on the grill. Reheat the marinade and pour it over the chicken.
  • Add a few spoonfuls of finely ground coffee to a spaghetti sauce or stir in a cup of coffee in a meat and tomato sauce.
  • Roll whole fish or fillets in coarsely ground coffee before grilling. You can do the same thing with steaks or chops of lamb, veal, beef, etc. Or mix part of coarsely ground coffee, part of chopped nuts and part of breadcrumbs. Or, coat the chicken breasts with a mixture of ground coffee and spices (cardamom, coriander seeds, cumin …), and bake.
  • To deglaze a pan in which meat has been cooked, replace the vinegar or wine with coffee.
  • Add about a cup of coffee to the pot-au-feu or boiled water before cooking; or add to a chili con carne or sin carne preparation .
  • Replace some or all of the water or milk with coffee when making cakes, cookies, muffins , etc. Coffee can be used in the preparation of countless desserts: mousses, creams, pastry creams, ice creams or sorbets. It is an essential element of the famous tiramisu.
  • To freshen the breath , chew one or two coffee beans.


Store coffee in a tight container, away from strong odors, because it absorbs them easily. Ground or bean, coffee can be stored in the freezer.

Ground . In contact with air, ground coffee oxidizes in a few days. It is therefore recommended to keep in the refrigerator only the amount that will be consumed in five or seven days. On the other hand, vacuum-packed coffee will keep much longer. Check the expiration date.

Whole roasted beans. About four weeks at room temperature.

Green grains. A few years.

Organic gardening

For fun, you can grow a potted coffee tree, which you will bring indoors in the fall, but the plant is unlikely to produce fruit. Use green beans for sowing, the roasted beans being sterile.

Ecology and environment

Organic, fair and profitable

Recycling coffee
grounds Coffee grounds (residue after brewing) is an exceptional resource that is largely underused. Thousands of tonnes are generated every year across the planet. It can be composted or applied as mulch in the garden. We are also studying its potential in the fight against certain undesirable, in particular slugs. Finally, a Canadian engineer developed the Java log , a log for those who own a fireplace. This log is distributed throughout North America and allows the recycling of more than 42 million kilos of coffee grounds per year.

The “certified fair trade” logo affixed to the packaging guarantees that the coffee has been produced and marketed in compliance with certain standards relating to coffee quality, farmers’ working conditions and respect for the environment. The NGO Agronomists and veterinarians without borders published in January 2007 a study on the effect of fair trade on coffee producers in the south of Ecuador. It reveals that producers of fair trade and organic certified coffee have been more successful than others in coping with the international price crisis experienced by this industry from 2000 to 2003. While many of the other producers have had to abandon their land, temporarily or definitive, they were able to stay on their land with an adequate income.

In addition, families enrolled in the program are able to adequately pay for temporary labor who, if not, must go and offer their services in banana or shrimp farms. Fair trade therefore makes it possible to stop temporary migration and maintain peasant farming. The author of the report concludes: “In connection with the organic certification process, associations play a driving role in the sustainable management of natural resources”.

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