Is your morning brew good for you?

Cold brewed, espresso or latte, whatever you reach for in your morning haze, could it be causing you harm or helping to prevent illness? We asked nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik to investigate the effects of coffee.

What is it about the enticing and altogether enveloping aroma of a fresh brew that can have us literally bouncing out of bed in the morning? The rich almost seductive power of coffee is one that is undeniably a ritual for a lot of us but beyond its taste there is a nutritional side to this beautiful bean that may surprise you.

Let’s face it coffee is big business, billions of cups consumed a year worldwide, it is one of the most valuable traded food commodity. Moreover, it is a huge part of our culture. Not just for the social aspect where the phrase, “let’s grab a coffee” has become intrinsic to many a business deal, a first date or almost synonymous with seeing friends. You would be hard pressed to walk down a street anywhere now without the ubiquitous coffee bars on every corner. However, coffee is much more than just that and we all know the difference between an ok cup and a GREAT cup. In fact, the quality of the beans and where they are grown can have marked differences in their taste and from a socio-economic point of view. Yes, there is much more beyond ordering that flat white than you might think.

Coffee, in its pure state, has various studies that support some of its health benefits but it’s the oversized sugary and syrup laden versions that when over consumed can have create more of the negative side effects and that’s got little to do with the actual coffee. Fairly recent fast growing nutritional trends championing the benefits have included bulletproof coffee that is a blend of high quality coffee, grass fed butter and MCT oil reported to help with weight loss and enhanced exercise performance (although the jury is still very much out on many of the associated claims). Another more recent coffee craze is the cold pressed version that has been extracted over a lengthier period said to reduce the acidity of the bean, which from a taste point of view, I personally think is rather smooth and pleasant. But really the question is can coffee actually be good for us and should we be drinking it regularly?

Well in short yes! Research has linked coffee consumption to preventing neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and dementia, it has also been associated with protecting against type 2 diabetes, liver and heart diseases. Coffee also contains polyphenols that help to feed the bacteria in our gut and as such supports better overall gut health. Plus, because it blocks inhibitory brain chemical adenosine this means your other neurotransmitters abilities can be enhanced so you could say it has you thinking sharper too. In certain cases, people who notice an improvement in their exercise if they have a pre-workout shot before hitting the gym. All of this aside it doesn’t mean advocating 10 cups per day. Genetics very much dictate how we can tolerate caffeine so just one can bring on the jitters as opposed to someone else who has much less effect from a few cups. That being said one cup in the morning for most people is generally a good amount to stick to. Be sure to make sure that your beans are derived from farming practises that are transparent, sustainable, fair trade and fresh since coffee crops can be one of the most pesticide and mould ridden foods and it is really important to ensure the welfare of the farmers and workers too.

Here’s the caveat though: Like other foods coffee isn’t good for everyone and certainly not in excess. If you are someone who is suffering from any kind of nervous or anxious disorder drinking coffee may exacerbate symptoms or if you are trying to get pregnant then best to avoid and stick to non-caffeinated herbal teas. If you are craving coffee and need to avoid for various reasons then ground chicory is a good alternative.

Other than that, whether you are after a creamy latte or flat white, a hit of a macchiato or espresso, or a straight up black Americano then enjoy and savour your cup. And if you do like a milky coffee then the Plenish milks have some serious foam potential and perfectly top off an excellent brew.

My best brews

CRU Kafe –organic, fair trade and Nespresso friendly capsules.
UNION – Organic and delicious.
Volvano Coffee – Some of the best local coffee and now available with at home pods for your nespresso machine.
Roastworks Coffee Co. – pack in some serious flavours and meticulously source their beans from sustainable farmers and producers. Available online and in selected Waitrose stores
Taylor Street Baristas – I rate their cafes as one of my favourite coffee spots in London. Plus they offer a brilliant home barista course so you can learn to perfect your home brewing skills

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