Food That Brings Us Joya: Coffee

espresso beans in a bowl with a cup of milk

"If coffee can’t fix it, it’s a serious problem."

— Unknown

Coffee:

Energy, Fat Burning, Antioxidant, Longevity, Cognitive Performance, Cancer Protection


When it comes to North Americans and their coffee, this beverage is no joke. Apparently Canadians and Americans consume more coffee than water, making it the most consumed beverage in both countries. Coffee doesn’t just fuel us either — it helps to fuel the economy. The Canadian coffee industry is a C$6.2 billion industry that provides over 160,000 jobs in Canada. In the U.S., a comprehensive 2015 study found that consumers spent over U$72 billion on coffee and the industry was responsible for almost 1.7 million jobs — figures that have surely increased in the past few years given industry growth trends.

Coffee made its way to Europe and the Americas by the 17th century, but the bean is much older than that. Some believe the origins of coffee date back to as early as the 9th century! Legend has it that the coffee bean was first discovered by a goat herder named Kaldi in Ethiopia, who became aware of the bean after noticing that his goats wouldn’t sleep if they had eaten the berries of a specific tree. Kaldi took his discovery to the local monastery where the monks turned the beans into a beverage — and the rest is history! Now, coffee spans the globe. It’s the second most traded commodity in the world with over 70 countries producing varieties of the bean.

Pro Tip: When it comes to choosing your coffee, you’re allowed to be picky. While coffee has the potential to be a nutritious start to your day, conventional coffee is also one of the most contaminated crops in the world. In order to avoid buying a bean that’s been heavily sprayed with pesticides, buy and support coffee that’s organic, certified fair trade, or shade-grown. It’s also best to use it within a month or so of its roasting date. Check out our tips on buying and consuming coffee here!

beans roasting in indivdual cofee press with copper accessories

(Photo from Brewing Happiness)

So what is it about coffee that has much of the global population starting their day with a cupful? For some, they take comfort in the taste. Coffee beans come from the seeds of a fruit called coffee cherry, and depending on how the beans are processed and roasted, they can taste fruity, herby, spicy, nutty, chocolatey and more! For others, coffee is a chance to start the day with a health kick by creating a tasty superfood latte. And then there are those whose day just doesn’t start until after the caffeine has kicked in. As the saying goes, “First I drink the coffee. Then I do the things.”

Whatever your reason is to drink coffee, take comfort in the fact that even the simplest cup o’ good quality joe is brimming with health benefits, and is always a much wiser dietary choice that high-sugar fruit juices, sodas and energy drinks. And since a regular cup of black coffee is plant-based, contains no sugar and virtually no calories, it’s suitable for those following various diets, including intermittent fasting and vegan, pale and keto diets.

ombre gradiant pouring milk into coffee

(Photo from The Wooden Skillet)

Energy

Coffee is perhaps best known for its infamous caffeine buzz. This is due to the fact that caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant, and when consumed it increases epinephrine (better known as adrenaline) in the body. Adrenaline is often called the fight-or-flight hormone, and when released it prepares the body for intense exertion. As a result, coffee can help enhance the body’s physical performance. A recent meta-analysis of 46 studies found that when consumed in moderate doses, caffeine has a positive effect on endurance performance.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help to reverse the effects of aging in the body. Too much oxidation in the body increases the risk of degenerative diseases, but consuming antioxidants can help reduce the risk. Luckily, coffee is packed with antioxidants and linked to longevity. In fact, it appears to contains even more antioxidant activity that cacao or tea!

Fun Fact: The world’s oldest cat, Creme Puff, was given coffee every morning and lived to be 38 — that’s 165 in human years! Does anyone else suddenly see the fountain of youth in their cup of coffee?

Fat Burning

As it turns out, there’s more to caffeine than just its energy buzz. Studies have shown that caffeine can help ramp up your metabolism, supporting weight maintenance through mechanisms including raising internal body temperature (aka energy expenditure) and in turn, burning fat. This metabolic boost is why caffeine is found in so many weight loss pills.

Reduced Cancer Risks

Recent studies suggest that coffee consumption is associated with a reduce risk of certain cancers, and the American Institute for Cancer Research recently added coffee to their list of Foods That Fight Cancer. Although more research is needed, there have been reports that coffee consumption could help lower the risk of liver cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and postmenopausal breast cancer.

coffee popsicles on ice background with beans on top

(Photo from The Joya Life)

How To Enjoy

Brew and sip your coffee hot or iced, black or with homemade nut milk. Stir in adaptogenic powders to make a superfood latte, or try a healthy coffee smoothie. And who said coffee is just for drinking? Try your hand at these chocolate avocado cookies or slice up some vegan coffee cake. Need to fuel up midday? Try these vanilla latte energy bites or a cold brew tahini popsicle. And when you’re feeling indulgent, treat yourself to hazelnut espresso brownies, coffee chocolate chip ice cream, or dark chocolate mousse!

(Header image from Downshiftology)