Coffee isn’t actually a bean; it is a seed. Two of which are contained in the cherry of the fruit of a coffee plant.
Coffee grows in a region near the equator commonly referred to as “the coffee belt”. The Coffee belt produces the ideal climate for growing coffee and sits between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer.
Coffee trees can live up to 60 years and can take up to 7 years to mature to be ready for first harvest.
There are many species of coffee, and many subspecies which are commonly referred to as “varietals”.
Arabica is the most common species and comprises about 60% of coffee consumption. It is known for being sweet, fruity, and acidic. Café Canophera, commonly referred to as Robusta, is the second most popular and is known for having a more bitter and undesirable taste than Arabica coffee, but it does have a higher caffeine content. Robusta grows in Africa, Indonesian and Asia.
Two other coffee species you may hear mentioned from time to time are Liberica and Excelsa which are typically grown in Southeast Asia.
HOW COFFEE WORKS?
ACTIVE INGREDIENT CAFFEINE
Caffeine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, and blood levels peak after 90-100 minutes. Caffeine has a typical half-life of about 5-6 hours in most healthy adults.
Caffeine was not identified until 1819 by a German chemist and has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system. Caffeine acts as a repellant against herbivores in nature. If insects were to try and eat a coffee plant they would die from the effects of caffeine. So in reality, caffeine was originally designed by mother nature as an insecticide.
SO HOW IS IT THAT COFFEE GIVES YOU ENERGY?
It doesn’t …. It actually tricks your brain into thinking you’re not tired.
Caffeine mimics the release of Adenosine. Adenosine builds up in our brains more and more as the day goes on. The more adenosine the sleepier you become. As adenosine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain, it causes drowsiness by slowing nerve cell activity.
Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain. In doing so, caffeine takes up all the receptors that adenosine would normally bind to, and it blocks the adenosine receptors from activating. So instead, brain activity speeds up. Caffeine causes more neurons to fire and signals the body to release adrenaline (epinephrine), and it also increases blood flow to muscles, speeds up circulation raising blood pressure, and opens airways.
The brain’s blood vessels constrict which can help stop vascular headaches (which is why caffeine is in some headache medications).
Drinking coffee that is caffeinated prevents the reabsorption of dopamine in the brain which makes you feel happier. The more dopamine the more you will experience increase mood, energy, focus and feeling.
Coffees effect on adenosine and dopamine receptors can have long term positive health effects such as reducing the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and some types of cancer. Coffee is also rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients (so much so that we will need another blog post about this in the future).
COFFEE & HYDRATION
There is a widespread MYTH that drinking coffee leads to dehydration.
This is NOT true.
Black coffee contains more than 95% water. Research suggests that coffee drinking in moderation contributes to fluid intake and does NOT lead to dehydration, or significant loss of body fluid (even while exercising). The fluid intake more than offsets any diuretic effects. Moderate coffee consumption is typically defined as 3-5 cups per day.
COFFEE PERFORMANCE & BENEFITS
Besides feeling ALERT, FOCUSED, HAPPY, and ENERGETIC.
Coffee can have a positive effect on performance.
Caffeine is the go-to supplement for many athletes and specialized military personnel.
Due to its performance enhancing effects, caffeine is even banned by some organizations, such as in high doses by the NCAA, and was even considered a banned substance from 1972 to 2004 in the Olympics.
Caffeine has been shown to increase thermogenesis (body temperature) and help burn more calories. As many of you are aware, caffeine is a common ingredient in many supplements and weight loss pills due to its fat burning effects and ability to suppress appetites.
Coffee helps reduce the perception of effort, which allows athletes to mentally keep pushing forward, leading to better performance. Caffeine is especially performance enhancing for endurance athletes.
Caffeine has an ergogenic effect which improves capacity to workout/exercise. It also serves a s great pre-workout for anaerobic activity (high-intensity or weightlifting). As already mentioned, caffeine consumption is highly beneficial for endurance athletes and any aerobic sports (run, cycle, row etc.).
A plethora of studies exist on the effects of coffee and performance enhancement ranging from improved physical and mental performance, fat burning, increased strength, faster recovery, and endurance. We will talk about some of the research in future content.
Check out our Deal of the Week every week and remember to #MakeCoffeeNotExcuses and Drink Immortal Coffee. The No Crash Coffee.