Coffee can be used for things other than waking you up – here are some other ways that coffee can improve your life
We hear a lot of negative things about coffee – people are getting addicted to coffee, millennials are wasting their money on it, and even that it’s not as good for us as we originally thought. We’re fed up with hearing it all – especially when not all of it is true.
Today we wanted to share some of the benefits that come from drinking coffee. Despite what some people would have you believe, there are many, many positive changes that coffee can make in your life.
Coffee is a plant that was first grown in Ethiopia and since then has taken over the entire world. The only drink that is consumed more than coffee is water.
Some experts believe that over 2 billion cups of coffee are drunk every day across the world. The coffee industry is worth over $83 billion and provides over 125 million people with work every day.
Not only does coffee have a positive impact on the world, but it also has a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Today, we are going to shine a positive light on coffee and all of the benefits we experience when we drink it.
Table of contents
What Does Coffee Contain And How Is It Grown?
Coffee is a drink made from roasted and ground coffee beans. The beans were first grown in Ethiopia but are now grown all over the world. 60% of the world’s coffee is grown in Brazil, but some of the most valued coffee is grown in Costa Rica.
There are two popular types of coffee plants – Coffea Arabica and Coffea Robusta. Robusta is typically used for instant coffee as it is easier to grow but has a very bitter taste. Arabica is generally considered to be the nicer of the two beans and is used for all types of coffee making.
How is Coffee Grown?
What we know as the coffee bean is actually the dried and roasted seeds of the coffee bush. The seeds that aren’t used to make coffee beans can be used to grow new coffee plants.
Coffee is traditionally grown in areas of the world that are humid and warm – this is why Central and South America are such popular coffee growing regions. Did you know that in Costa Rica is it illegal to grow coffee that is not coffee Arabica?
It takes an average of 3-4 years for a coffee plant to start bearing fruit. When the fruit first appears it is a bright green and it transforms into a dark red berry as it ripens.
The berries are then hand-picked and sorted through. Only the best berries are made into coffee. Most farms only go picking once every 10 days to give the slower fruit time to ripen.
Once the berries have been picked out they are dried (this takes 15-20 days) before being sold to the factories. The factories then roast the dried berries and they become coffee beans. Some berries are roasted in the country they were grown in, while others are shipped abroad to be roasted.
Most people drink coffee because of its caffeine content – it helps us feel more awake, focus better, and can even improve our athletic performance. But, coffee has some other interesting nutritional benefits.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% Of The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) Per Cup
B2 is the key vitamin our body needs to break our food down into energy. Without it, we will feel lethargic and tired. The more B2 we have, the better our body is at breaking down fats and carbohydrates.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% Of The RDI Per Cup
B5 has two key functions in our body – helping to maintain a healthy liver and helping to maintain blood cell health.
It is also needed to keep our hair, nails, and skin healthy – as well as help us to regulate our stress levels.
Manganese And Potassium: 3% Of The RDI Per Cup
There are very few bodily functions that do not require potassium to function properly.
Magnesium And Niacin (Vitamin B3): 2% of the RDI per cup
Vitamin B3 is another important vitamin that helps to keep our body and blood healthy. It is also believed to improve the health of our skin and improve our brain function.
Health Benefits In Consumption
If you are interested in improving your health then you should seriously consider drinking at least one cup of coffee again.
A lot of people worry that drinking coffee will prevent them from sleeping, but it will only do that if it is drunk at the wrong time of the day. Drinking 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning could improve your health as well as your mood and energy levels.
You might also want to consider drinking a cup of coffee before a workout. Here are 4 major health benefits that come from drinking coffee.
Longer Life advantages
We all live healthier lives because we want to live longer – we want to be able to spend more time with our friends and family. There is some evidence that suggests that drinking a cup of coffee a day could improve your chances of living to your 100th birthday.
Lower Risk Of Heart Disease And Stroke
If you have done any research into the world of blood pressure then you will have probably come across the idea that coffee should be avoided. Why? Because it has caffeine in it and caffeine can raise blood pressure.
On some level this is true, when you first start drinking your cup of coffee, your blood pressure is temporarily raised. This rise is only around 3–4 mm/Hg. After a few months of drinking coffee regularly, you will see no rise in blood pressure.
This effect is only temporary and dissipates after a few hours. However, this data has been misinterpreted many times and this temporary rise in blood pressure is often equated to an increased risk of heart disease and strokes.
While there are some medical exemptions, the general consensus in the medical community is that coffee does not increase the risk of heart disease and strokes – in fact, in many cases, it does the opposite.
This study showed that coffee drinkers, particularly women, are up to 20% less likely to suffer from a stroke than the average person.
Increased Energy Levels
We all know that drinking coffee makes us feel less tired, but let’s look at the scientific reason behind why it makes us feel this way and the other ways coffee can affect our energy levels.
Coffee contains caffeine which is a stimulant. It is also a psychoactive substance and is by far the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world.
Like most other stimulants, when we drink coffee the caffeine is absorbed into our blood. The caffeine is then moved around our body, however, it has no effect on us until it reaches our brain.
Once it reaches the brain the caffeine blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine. This sounds like a bad thing, but it actually increases the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine produced in our brain. This improves our mood, makes us more awake, and makes us feel more satisfied.
When adenosine is blocked by the caffeine in our blood, the rest of the neurotransmitters in our brain function at a higher rate – this improves our reaction speeds and our energy levels.
Help With Depression And Mental Health
Depression is more common than it ever has been. After the global pandemic and the seemingly endless lockdowns that we experienced throughout 2020 and 2021 – we all have a much more in-depth understanding of our own mental health.
Many of us are looking for simple ways that we can improve our mental health and it turns out that sitting down with a cup of joe in the morning could do that. Can it really be that simple? Yes!
Here are three ways in which having a cup of coffee can improve your mental health.
Dopamine And Satisfaction
In the last section, we talked about the fact that caffeine blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine. And doing this makes the other neurotransmitters work hard and increases the amount of dopamine our brain produced.
One of the symptoms of depression is a lack of motivation and low levels of dopamine. Our brain releases dopamine when we achieve something and once we get a little taste of it we want more.
Having a cup of coffee in the morning can be a great “hack” to get yourself feeling motivated. Your cup of coffee will leave you feeling accomplished enough to want to do more with your day.
Fends Off Depression
It also seems that coffee could help to reduce suicidal tendencies and can make you less likely to suffer from an episode of depression.
It was shown by a Harvard study published in 2011 that 4 cups of coffee a day could drastically reduce depression and suicidal intentions in women. Coffee drinkers are 20% less likely to suffer from a depressive episode. Another study showed that coffee drinkers are 53% less likely to die from suicide.
If you are going to drink that much coffee, make sure you do it in the morning.
An Excuse To See People
Another benefit of drinking coffee is that it can be a social experience.
Going out for coffee or inviting someone into your home to drink coffee with you can be a great way to spend more time with the people who matter to you. You can even share a cup of coffee with a loved one over Zoom if you do not feel capable of leaving your home.
Physical Performance Improvement
When people are looking to improve their physical and athletic performance they will often turn to pre-workout supplements and other artificial enhancers.
While these supplements can help to improve your performance they often have as many downsides as they do benefits.
The main ingredient of all of these supplements and pre-workout drinks is caffeine. However, they also include a lot of sugars, artificial sweeteners, and other additives.
So, why put all of these other chemicals into your body when you can get the same benefits from coffee, without all the pitfalls.
Here are two reasons why coffee can be your best friend when you are working out.
Coffee Can Help You Burn More Fat
Just like you find caffeine in every pre-workout, you will also find caffeine in every diet pill and supplement. It is recommended that you avoid taking diet pills as they often contain other ingredients like laxatives. However, you can get the fat burning benefits from a cup of coffee.
A cup of coffee half an hour before your workout can improve your metabolic rate by 2-11%. As a result of this obese people can burn up to 10% more fat when working out and lean people can burn up to 29% more.
When we consume caffeine it stimulates our nervous system, it does it in a way that encourages our bodies to break down our fatty acid stores to make energy rather than using quick energy sources like sugar and simple carbohydrates.
Coffee And Adrenaline
What Is Adrenaline?
Adrenaline is a hormone that our body produces, it is also known as epinephrine. It is seen as the fight-or-flight hormone as our bodies produce it when we are excited or nervous. Our body burns the adrenaline and is able to perform at a higher level than it usually can.
How Does Coffee Affect Our Adrenaline Levels?
Drinking coffee raises the level of adrenaline in our bloodstream. Not only does this mean that we are able to perform at a higher level (and for longer periods of time) but it also means that we are more likely to burn fat.
Why? Well, when we are exercising using adrenaline as a source we will quickly run out of adrenaline. To keep our energy levels up and to help us keep exercising our body starts to break down our stores of fat. This fat is converted into energy that we would not have needed if it wasn’t for the coffee and adrenaline.
High In Antioxidants
What Are Antioxidants?
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of drinking coffee is the number of antioxidants that a single cup contains.
Antioxidants are chemical compounds that prevent oxidation in the body. Oxidation is a chemical reaction in the body that produces free radicals and chain cells. Both of these can attack the healthy cells in our bodies.
Vitamins A, C, and E are all antioxidants that we can find in our diet. They can also be found in coffee, tea, turmeric, and other superfoods.
What Antioxidants Are In Coffee?
Coffee contains a huge amount of antioxidants. The process of roasting the coffee beans actually produces more antioxidants rather than destroying them, as was previously thought.
Scientists have discovered that the antioxidant “activity” in coffee is related to chlorogenic, ferulic, caffeic, and n-coumaric acids. Some health experts also consider caffeine and trigonelline to be antioxidants – coffee contains a good amount of both of these chemicals.
One study found that coffee grown in Mexico and South America had more antioxidants in it than coffee beans that were grown in China. It is also believed that Arabica beans have more antioxidants in them than Robusta beans.
How Can Antioxidants Benefit Us?
When oxidation occurs free radicals and chain cells are released into our bodies. These can attack our cells and cause them to mutate or cause permanent damage to them.
Free radicals are so dangerous because they can cause cancer and have been linked to many other diseases in the body. They have been linked to loss of eyesight, increased inflammation in the body, accelerated aging, and degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Coffee can not cure these diseases but there is evidence to suggest that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop many of these issues.
Other Great Sources Of Antioxidants
You can take antioxidants supplements but studies have shown that it is better to consume naturally occurring antioxidants.
Coffee is a great source of antioxidants, here are some other sources of antioxidants to incorporate into your diet:
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea (more specifically, matcha powder)
- Goji Berries
Many of these are easy to get hold of and are easy to incorporate into your diet. For example, you can enjoy a square of dark chocolate with your morning cup of coffee – or maybe with a blueberry muffin. Who knew it was this easy to look after your health?!
Uses In Cooking
If you want to experience these health benefits you don’t just have to drink coffee – you can cook with it too.
Flavour Enhancer (Cooking)
Coffee has a very strong flavor – one that is unmistakable. But coffee doesn’t always have to be the star of the show. It can be used in cooking to enhance your flavors or balance out the sweetness.
Coffee makes a great addition to sickly sweet dishes as it can take the edge off the sweetness. It can also be used to make savory dishes more complex and intense – for example, it can be added to rich stews to bring out the salty and meat flavors.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of coffee why not try out some of these recipes:
Start your day the right way with fruit, coconut, chia seeds, and coffee granola. This recipe is a great way to use up leftover coffee grounds.
Coffee Pulled Pork
This recipe combines two of our favorite things – coffee and a slow cooker. If you have never tried pulled pork that has been cooked in coffee then you need to change that as soon as possible. Maybe even tonight!
If you are a fan of other coffee based desserts – like Irish coffee and Tiramisu – then you cannot skip over this coffee cheesecake.
Warning – once you make it, you won’t stop craving it, it’s that good!
Coffee, cookies, caramel… need we say more?! Our stomach is rumbling too.
If you are looking for a sweet treat that is full of antioxidants, then these cookies will be perfect for you.
Trust us when we say that you haven’t lived until you’ve blended coffee grounds into your usual steak rub. The flavors will instantly become more complex.
There are a series of acids in coffee that can be used to tenderize the meat and add flavor to it at the same time.
You will have noticed that there were a few meat-based recipes in the section above. Coffee has a savory and slightly umami taste that works well with most meats – particularly pork and red meats.
However, you can use leftover coffee grounds as a tenderizing meat rub. The rough edges of the grounds will physically tenderize the meat and the acid in the coffee will chemically tenderize the meat. It is a very effective system to get your meat ready to cook.
Uses Outside Of Consumption
If you drink a lot of coffee then you probably end up with mounds of coffee grounds and you have no idea what to do with them. Well, they don’t have to go to waste. There are many different things you can do with coffee grounds – from gardening with them, using them on your body, and even painting with them.
We talked earlier about all the nutrients in coffee – well, it turns out that these are not just good for us but they are also good for our gardens. Here are 4 things that you can use your leftover coffee grounds for.
Protection From Slugs
You can keep slugs away from your most precious (and delicious plants) using coffee grounds.
Simply take a handful of coffee grounds and make a circle around the base of the plant. Then gently sprinkle some more coffee grounds on the inside of the ring.
Coffee is a better alternative to salt and chemical slug repellent because it does not damage the soil. In fact, coffee grounds can make the soil healthier than it was before you added it to the ecosystem.
As we alluded to above, there is a good range of vitamins and minerals inside coffee grounds that can make your garden more healthy.
Soil losing its nutrients is a big problem, especially in small gardens that have a lot of plants in them. You can add more vitamins and minerals to your garden by turning coffee grounds into your coil once every season or whenever you dig over the beds.
Repellent For Wasps, Bees, And Mosquitoes
It is not just slugs that dislike the smell of coffee and the acids in it – bees, wasps, and mosquitoes also hate it.
You obviously don’t want to keep bees and wasps away from your plants, but you may want to keep them away from you when you are in the garden.
Leave your coffee grounds in a pot of oil for a week and you will have a natural repellent that you can rub onto your skin.
Coffee grounds can also be added straight into your compost bin. The same goes for tea leaves. You can even pour undrunk cups of coffee onto the compost pile.
Just like when you add coffee grounds to your flower beds, adding coffee grounds to the compost bin will help to cycle more minerals into your garden. This should mean that your plants will be healthier and will grow faster.
Arts And Crafts
As well as using coffee in your garden, you can use your leftover grounds for many different crafting projects. Coffee grounds can use in beauty products and can even be used to make paints.
Why not try making these coasters out of leftover coffee beans.
You may also want to try using leftover grounds to make coffee-scented candles. You can either mix the grounds directly into the wax or infuse an oil with them.
If you are someone who hates using chemicals in their home then coffee might be about to become your new best friend.
Did you know that coffee is a non-flammable and chemical-free alternative to wood stains? It’s true! Anyone who has ever spilled coffee on a lighter wooden table will confirm this – it works almost instantly.
You can change the shade of the wood stain by changing the strength of the coffee you make. You can also use multiple layers of coffee if you want to get a really deep color. Make sure to complete each layer in one sitting so you don’t get uneven tones.
Soap Colourizer And Flavour
It is very common for soap makers to make use of leftover coffee grounds by including them in soaps and body scrubs.
Coffee grounds have slightly sharp edges, which means that they work well as natural exfoliators. Including them in a bar of soap can help improve the health and appearance of one’s skin.
Coffee also has a strong color and smell. This makes it a great natural ingredient to add to all-natural, clean body products. Coffee is also gluten-free and vegan – which means that anyone can use them, even if they are allergic to other ingredients or have restrictions.
There are many painters throughout history who have used coffee.
You are probably most familiar with the concept of using coffee grounds to dye paper and make it look older. However, there are many artists who have used coffee instead of paint.
To do this you will need to make a very strong cup of coffee (use as little water as possible), you can then dip the paintbrush into your coffee and use it like watercolor paint.
If you want to use an even darker color why not try grinding your grounds down into a fine paste and painting with that onto the canvas.
Hair And Body Uses
It has been suggested that using a coffee scrub on your scalp could stimulate hair growth after hair loss or could encourage hair to grow more thickly. The caffeine in the coffee is the key ingredient here (so don’t use decaf grounds). Some people also add shots of espresso into their shampoo for this reason.
Coffee is also often combined with peppermint oil and tea tree oil to create a soothing foot scrub that can help to get rid of dead skin. It can also be combined with sweeter oils to make a lip scrub.
2 billion cups of coffee are believed to be drunk every day. The industry supplies work for another 125 million people. It is the second most drunk beverage in the world. It is a huge part of all of our lives, whether we drink it ourselves or not.
That being said, drinking coffee will bring a whole load of benefits into your life – which is great because it takes no effort at all to drink coffee.
It is hard to think that something as effortless as sipping on a cup of coffee could improve your mental health, fight off heart disease, and make you a happier person. But it’s all true.
Not only can coffee be used to improve your body and mind, but you can also use the leftover grounds on the world around you. Coffee is an excellent food for soil, it can be used to dye clothes and furniture, it can even be used to protect your plants from slugs and wasps.
There are endless uses and benefits to be had from coffee and we are sure that you will discover even more after having finished this article.
Follow her on Twitter.