Single Serve Decreases Coffee Consumption

We recently addressed the issue of who drinks the most coffee and it is the USA. Now it would appear that the USA is steadily consuming less coffee, not because anyone is cutting back but because of the single serve revolution. Bloomberg Business reports on how single-serving pods have decreased coffee consumption.

Single-serve brewing machines popularized by Keurig Green Mountain Inc. are now used by more than one in four Americans and are altering the way coffee is consumed. Almost every brand, from Folgers to Dunkin’ Donuts, is sold in disposable 2-inch-by-2-inch plastic pods that yield just one serving. They’re more efficient than drip-brewing pots capable of making 10 cups, some of which isn’t consumed and gets dumped.

While Americans still drink more coffee than any beverage except water, expanded use of single-serve machines has slowed demand growth for a $52 billion market in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer. That’s hurt sales at a time when ample inventories of the commodity have sent prices tumbling.

One observer says that coffee farmers have lost their most lucrative consumer, the kitchen sink where unused coffee poured.

Who Started Single Serve?

Keurig is an American manufacturer of coffee brewers and producers of K-cups.

Each K-Cup is a plastic container with a coffee filter inside. Ground coffee beans are packed in the K-Cup and sealed air-tight with a combination plastic and foil lid. When the K-Cup is placed in a Keurig brewer, the brewer punctures both the foil lid and the bottom of the K-Cup and forces hot water under pressure through the K-Cup and into a mug or cup.

From small beginnings this single serve revolution has moved into one in four US homes as well as offices and hotel rooms.

And Lots of Plastic

Those of us who like healthy organic coffee also care about the environment. As single serve decreases coffee consumption it should be a good thing. But the single serve plastic pods are an environmental disaster according to the Montreal Gazette.

The increasing popularity of single-serve coffee brewing technologies is not only decreasing overall demand for coffee in North America, but also producing colossal volumes of un-recyclable and non-compostable plastics. While the efficiency of these machines (which help reduce coffee waste) can be seen as an improvement from conventional methods of brewing coffee, arguably, this is offset by the excessive plastic waste generated from their use. Not to mention the amount of fossil fuels used and burned in creating the plastic cups. The amount of coffee wasted from old-fashion coffee machines could be mitigated through a fundamental shift in the North American economic system. If coffee prices included environmental externalities, they would undoubtedly rise and consumers would be more economically inclined not to waste their precious coffee.

If you like organic coffee and are friendly to the environment consider buying whole bean roasted coffee, grinding just enough before making coffee and enjoying fresh coffee every time. Along the way you will not be cluttering up the world with single serve plastic containers.


The Biology of Shade Grown Organic Coffee

Coffee has lots of great health benefits and healthy organic coffee is the best as going organic helps you avoid more than a hundred impurities that can be found in cup of regular coffee. We know that certified organic coffee is better for the environment as organic coffee farming follows sustainable practices. These practices for coffee include interspersing coffee among shade trees to secure the soil and provide shade for coffee plants. The use of commercial fertilizers is limited and pest control requires natural practices as opposed to chemical insecticides and fungicides. All of this sounds very straightforward from a distance but just what is the biology of shade grown organic coffee? Why does coffee like the shade? Why does coffee grow best in mountainous terrain under cloud cover? Here are a few thoughts about the biology of shade grown organic coffee.

Where Coffee Originated

Coffee evolved in the forested highlands of East Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan). Here is where the plant became accustomed to the seasons, degree of rainfall, soil conditions and pests. From an evolutionary viewpoint coffee has arrived way to fast in various locations around the world and cannot be expected to adapt without some forethought and help in its new locations such as Brazil, Colombia or Vietnam. Nevertheless coffee is planted and flourishes in these locations. And coffee does best where the conditions are similar to where it grew up. The biology of shade grown organic coffee is such that growing coffee in the shade resembles how the plant was meant to grow.

Basic Plant Biology and the Coffee Perspective

Plants use photosynthesis to convert sunlight to energy and along the way convert carbon dioxide in the air in order to grow and exhale oxygen. Plants need nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other nutrients. And if they get too much of these and if they get too much sun light they need huge amounts of water as well. But too much water can drown the roots of a plant, including a coffee plant and make it sick. Thus there is an advantage to the biology of shade grown organic coffee in that the terrain of the mountainside keeps water from flooding the plant and the forest canopy limits the amount of sunlight powering growth. Organic coffee farming uses less of the chemicals that fuel growth but also uses an appropriate amount so that the plant does not need excessive amounts of water.

Location, Location, Location

Picking the spot for growing Arabica coffee is a lot like dealing with real estate, location, location and location. Arabica organic coffee likes a temperature range between 15 and 24 degrees Celsius. (That’s 59 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.) This sort of temperature range is found in the land of eternal spring along the mountainous spine that runs from southern Mexico to Ecuador and Brazil. Soil quality and soil management are important but it starts with an ideal location and ideally a shady one.

Avoidance of Coffee Leaf Rust

The fungal disease that can devastate coffee crops is more prevalent where coffee is planted too closely together, when they are planted in full sun and where it is planted in warmer locations. Growing organic coffee under forest cover at higher altitudes is a better approach if you want to avoid coffee leaf rust than planting tightly spaced coffee at lower altitude in full sun.

Where Are the Real Coffee Drinkers?

In an article last week we asked who drinks the most coffee. It turns out what matters is the number of people in a nation who are drinking coffee more so that per capita coffee consumption.  Thus the USA is the hands down winner in the race to consumer the most coffee.

The USA consumes the most coffee followed by Germany Japan and France. What these nations lack in per capital consumption they make up for in population size.

But among the whole list of coffee drinking countries, where are the real coffee drinkers? In general the farther north you go the more coffee people drink.

The Netherlands Is Where the Real Coffee Drinkers Are

  1. Netherlands, 2.414
  2. Finland, 1.357
  3. Sweden, 1.257
  4. Denmark, 1.231
  5. Germany, 1.201
  6. Slovakia, 1.188
  7. Serbia, 1.17
  8. Czech Republic, 1.152
  9. Poland, 1.128
  10. Norway, 1.076

This is the list of the top coffee consuming countries rates by per capital coffee consumption. According to The Atlantic,

The Netherlands’ per-capita consumption of 2.4 cups a day is almost the same as those of the US, UK, Spain, and France combined.

It turns out that as a nation, The Netherlands are where the real coffee drinkers live.

What Occupations Drink the Most Coffee?

According to ABC7 Chicago here is the ranking of professions drinking the most coffee.

  1. Journalists and media staff
  2. Police officers
  3. Teachers
  4. Plumbers and trade workers
  5. Nurses and medical staff
  6. Company executives
  7. Telesales
  8. IT technical support
  9. Retail staff
  10. Drivers

The article quotes a study by a PR organization that surveyed ten thousand professionals. Seventeen out of twenty drank at least three cups a day and seven out of ten claimed that they would perform less well on the job if did not have their coffee. Where are the real coffee drinkers? They are in the news room, squad car or in front of their class.

Coffee Drinkers by State

The Daily Beast tells us which the twenty most caffeinated cities are. Their info comes from the research firm NPD Group.

Cities by number of coffee shops per 100,000 residents

Seattle, Portland, San Jose, San Francisco, Denver, San Diego, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Phoenix, Boston, New York, Miami

Estimated caffeine consumption per capital

Seattle, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco, Minneapolis, San Diego

Here the assumption that those in the north drink more coffee seems to break down. However, not everyone goes to the coffee shop for their pick me up.

What Age Group Drinks the Most Coffee?

Where are the real coffee drinkers? It turns out that the most frequent coffee consumption is in the sixty and older age group! Statista presents the results an online survey of coffee drinking consumers by the National Coffee Association.

This statistic shows the results of an online survey conducted by the National Coffee Association (NCA) from January 27 to March 2, 2014. U.S. survey respondents were asked what kind of beverages they have drunk during the past day. The survey revealed that coffee penetration among U.S. consumers aged between 18 to 24 years was 51 percent.

Percentage of Coffee Drinkers by Age Group

18-24 years, 51%
25-39 years, 62%
40-59 years, 63%
60+ years, 65%

It may be that the higher level of coffee consumption in the older age group is because of taste. But we know that coffee has a whole bunch of healthy effects. Could it be that those in younger age groups who did not drink coffee did not survive until later years???

Who Drinks the Most Coffee?

According to the International Coffee Organization the world produces about 133 million bags of coffee a year and exports 93 million bags of coffee a year worth roughly $15 billion.

Global consumption in coffee year 2009/10 totaled around 133.9 million bags, of which 72 million bags were consumed in Importing Member countries, 21.2 million in non-member countries and 40.7 million in producing countries.

These are 70 kg bags (154 pounds). Coffee FAQ’s from Quartermaine states that you can make 40 cups of coffee (five ounces) from a pound of coffee beans.

Q: How many cups of coffee can I make with one pound of coffee grounds?

A: With a coffee to water ratio of two level measuring tablespoons per five ounces of water, you can make approximately forty cups of coffee.

So, 133 million bags x 154 pounds per bag x 40 cups per pound = 819,280,000,000 cups of coffee per year. This is a lot of coffee. Who drinks the most coffee?


Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

Coffee Consumption Per Capita

If you are looking for serious coffee drinkers go north. The Atlantic posted an article showing countries that drink the most coffee.

America might be famous for running on coffee, but it doesn’t run on much. Not compared to a handful of other countries, anyway. When it comes to actual coffee consumption per person, the US doesn’t even crack the top 15. The Netherlands’ per-capita consumption of 2.4 cups a day is almost the same as those of the US, UK, Spain, and France combined.

Think of living in a cold climate where a hot cup of coffee not only warms your stomach but your hands as well.

Here is the coffee per capital leader board.

Nation and Cups per Day

  1. Netherlands, 2.414
  2. Finland, 1.357
  3. Sweden, 1.257
  4. Denmark, 1.231
  5. Germany, 1.201
  6. Slovakia, 1.188
  7. Serbia, 1.17
  8. Czech Republic, 1.152
  9. Poland, 1.128
  10. Norway, 1.076
  11. Slovenia, 1.076
  12. Canada, 1.009
  13. Belgium, 0.981
  14. Switzerland, 0.971
  15. New Zealand, 0.939
  16. USA, 0.931
  17. Austria, 0.803
  18. Costa Rica, 0.793
  19. Greece, 0.782
  20. Algeria, 0.765

Interestingly the list gets to # 18 before a coffee producing nation, Costa Rica, shows up. And the only Southern Hemisphere country represented, New Zealand, is so far south that it gets cold there. But, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden are not populous countries. Who drinks the most coffee by nation?

Coffee Consumption by Nation

The USA consumes the most coffee followed by Germany Japan and France. What these nations lack in per capital consumption they make up for in population size. According to, coffee statistics, there are 150,000,000 coffee drinkers in the USA.

Over 50% of Americans over 18 years of age drink coffee every day. This represents over 150 million daily drinkers. 30 million American adults drink specialty coffee beverages daily; which include a mocha, latte, espresso, café mocha, cappuccino, frozen/iced coffee beverages, etc.

By comparison to the 150 million US coffee drinkers, the population of the Netherlands is just under 17 million and Finland has five and a half million people. These folks are trying hard but there simply are not enough of them. Who drinks the most coffee? The USA does.

Antioxidants in Coffee

Coffee is good for your health. Daily coffee consumption reduces your risk of type II diabetes and various forms of cancer. The caffeine in coffee elevates your mood and reduces the risk of clinical depression, neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and even the risk of suicide. Aside from caffeine the active ingredients that are responsible for all of these good things are the antioxidants in coffee. Just what are antioxidants and what are the antioxidants in coffee?

List of Antioxidants in Coffee

The American Institute for Cancer Research says that coffee contains the following:

  • Chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant compound that is the major phenol in coffee
  • Quinic acid, a phytochemical that contributes to the acidic taste of coffee
  • Cafestol and kahweol, compounds that are extracted from the beans’ oil during brewing. Unfiltered coffee, such as French press or boiled coffee, contains these compounds
  • Caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant that affects the central nervous system
  • N-methylpyridinium (NMB), created by roasting, may make the antioxidants more potent

Chlorogenic acid may be slightly lower in decaf coffee according to limited research, but it still contains plenty of phytochemicals. Lab studies suggest that instant may be lower in antioxidant potency than brewed coffee, though more research is needed.

And just what do antioxidants do?


An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits cell damage and cell death in human cells caused by oxidative breakdown of other molecules. Oxidation is a factor in sickness and aging.  Antioxidants in coffee do the same things chemically as other antioxidants and because we drink so much coffee worldwide coffee is the primary source of antioxidants.

Antioxidants help prevent the damage caused by excessive oxidation and to a degree inhibit the aging process. When an oxidative reaction brought on by disease gets going it produces free radicals that start chain reactions which in turn cause cell and tissue damage. The human body has or uses antioxidants to control this situation. Natural means of controlling oxidation include vitamins C and E as well as glutathione. It is low levels of antioxidants that can lead to a condition referred to as oxidative stress and resultant damage to cells in the body. Methylpyridium is one of the organic coffee antioxidants and is created during the roasting process of organic coffee. This breakdown product of trigonelline has been found to increase activity of phase II enzymes. Doctors believe that these enzymes protect against colon cancer, which is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the USA. Recent research shows that organic coffee antioxidants include chlorogenic acid lactones and lipophilic antioxidants. Chlorogenic acid lactones and lipophilic antioxidants are capable of protecting nerve cells when challenged with hydrogen peroxide.

Blueberries, celery seeds, etc. have very high levels of antioxidants but due to the sheer volume of coffee that we consume, antioxidants in coffee outshine all other sources as a benefit to human health.

Antioxidants Content of Coffee

The Nutrition Journal published a study of antioxidant content of foods in 2010. In the beverage section the researchers found a total antioxidant content range of

0.89 mmol/100 g for one type of brewed coffee with milk to 16.33 mmol/100 g for one type of double espresso coffee.

These measurements were taken from commercially available coffees. In short, antioxidants in coffee are good for you and readily available at the nearest coffee shop or in your own kitchen.

Coffee Economics 101: Brazil

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee by far. So, it should not be a surprise that Brazil drives the supply side of the supply and demand equation for coffee. Here is a snapshot of the coffee producing countries from Bloomberg Business.

Total Coffee Production, thousands of 60 kilogram bags, 2010 to 2011 season
Brazil 54,500
Vietnam 18,725
Colombia 9,500
Indonesia 9,325
India 5,100
Arabica Coffee Production, thousands of 60 kilogram bags, 2010 to 2011 season
Brazil 41,800
Colombia 9,500
Ethiopia 4,400
Honduras 4,000
Peru 4,000
Robusta Coffee Production, thousands of 60 kilogram bags, 2010 to 2011 season
Vietnam 18,150
Brazil 12,700
Indonesia 7,950
India 3,600
Cote d’Ivoire 2,100


As the table shows Brazil is far and away the biggest coffee producer, especially in Arabica coffee and the second largest producer of Robusta coffee. Coffee economics have to do with supply and demand and Brazil controls the major part of the supply side.

Current Coffee Prices and the Brazilian Real

The Wall Street Journal recently published comment about how a weak Brazilian currency serves to drive down the price of sugar, coffee and orange juice.

Sugar, coffee and orange-juice futures tumbled Tuesday as a weak Brazilian currency encouraged growers and exporters there to sell the commodities onto already oversupplied global markets. A weaker real encourages Brazilian producers and exporters to sell their orange juice and other products because they get more of the local currency back when they repatriate their dollar-denominated profits. Brazil is the world’s biggest producer of sugar, coffee and orange juice.

Brazil is a large and largely self-sufficient country. Thus most things that people need are available in Brazil and not imported. The cost of living does not go up or down when the local currency suffers. But coffee is priced in US dollars and when the real becomes less valuable the value of coffee in the Brazilian currency rises. Coffee economics 101 tells us that the value of the Brazilian real helps drive the supply side of the coffee equation.

A Crisis in Brazil Means a Cheaper Cup of Coffee

So, we know that a weak real leads coffee farmers to sell coffee instead of storing it for later. Where is the real going next? Forbes polled those with investment experience in Brazil and currency risk in that country.

The biggest number of respondents, 32.8%, think the real is going to R$4.  Another 14.8% said it could weaken over R$4.  A small number, 8.2%, think the real will hold firm where it is now, which is closer to R$3.30.  Given the fact that the real is already R$3.20, the market is more short the real than it is long.

The financial experts think that the real is going to get weaker versus the US dollar. If that is the case coffee farmers in Brazil will have little incentive to hold on to coffee and will probably sell more into a market that is already oversupplied. Coffee economic 101 implies that a cup of coffee will cheaper over the next year.

Coffee Bloom

What is a coffee bloom and is it a good or bad thing? The coffee bloom is the release of carbon dioxide gas when hot water is poured over ground coffee beans. Carbon dioxide gas is trapped inside coffee beans when they are roasted. Darker roasts contain more carbon dioxide and lighter roasts contain less. Roasted whole beans retain the carbon dioxide longer than roasted and ground coffee and storing in a cool environment keeps the carbon dioxide longer. The antioxidant compounds that give coffee its health benefits and flavor are trapped in the carbon dioxide as well.

More Carbon Dioxide, More Bloom, More Flavor and Better for You

Store your coffee as green beans if you have the ability to roast. Store them as roasted whole beans otherwise. Store in a cool and dry location and grind just enough coffee just before brewing. Doing all of this will give you a bigger coffee bloom when you add water and better flavor and health benefits as well. It all has to do with the antioxidants after all.


Regular and organic coffee antioxidants are good for you and are what give coffee its flavor.

So, just what are antioxidants and why should we want to have more of them? Scientifically an antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the cell damage and cell death in human cells caused by oxidative breakdown of other molecule in the cell. Oxidation is a factor in sickness and aging. Antioxidants help prevent the damage caused by excessive oxidation and to a degree inhibit the aging process. When an oxidative reaction brought on by disease gets going it produces free radicals that start chain reactions which in turn cause cell and tissue damage. The human body has or uses antioxidants to control this situation. Natural means of controlling oxidation include vitamins C and E as well as glutathione. It is low levels of antioxidants that can lead to a condition referred to as oxidative stress and resultant damage to cells in the body. Organic coffee antioxidants are in the same class of molecules that help reduce oxidation.

So, when you see a substantial coffee bloom you know that you have stored your coffee correctly and that your coffee is full of healthy antioxidants. What are some of the health benefits of antioxidants?

Less Cancer, Less Diabetes and Fewer Neurological Degenerative Diseases

Drinking coffee is associated with a lower incidence of several forms of cancer. People who drink four to six cups of coffee a day experience half the incidence of Type II diabetes. And coffee drinkers are less prone to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It appears to be all about the antioxidants. And preserving these antioxidants is good for you.

More about the Coffee Bloom

When you store roasted coffee, it releases carbon dioxide or degases. That is to say the gas inside the bean seeps out. This goes faster in heat and slower in cold.  When you pour hot water over your freshly ground coffee the pleasant aroma and foam on top of the coffee is the coffee bloom, a sign of great fresh coffee.

How Much Coffee is Safe?

A government panel recently suggested that there are no long term health risks of drinking three to five cups of coffee a day. In fact they noted that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of getting Type II diabetes and heart disease. What are the benefits of drinking coffee and what are the problems if you exceed the guidelines? Big Think posted an article about the dietary guidelines relating to coffee.

Good news for coffee drinkers across America: a U.S. government-appointed panel of scientists has found three to five cups a day doesn’t pose any long-term health risks. In fact, a caffeine habit could even reduce risks of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Just make sure you take it easy on the cream and sugar.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has been charged with updating guidelines that act as suggestions for other agencies to follow, such as the FDA and Department of Agriculture. Roberto A. Ferdman from The Washington Post reports that this decision has broken the committee’s silence on coffee that’s gone on for over 40 years. One member of the committee, Tom Brenna, a nutritionist at Cornell University, said to Ferdman:

“I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer – nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

The dietary guidelines folks are concerned that if you add too much cream and sugar to your coffee you are going to offset the benefits of drinking coffee. But, there are other concerns. So, how much coffee is safe, and why is that?

How Much and Why?

Time has published an article asking, how much coffee should you be drinking.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded that strong evidence shows moderate coffee consumption (3 to 5 eight-ounce cups per day, or up to 400 milligram/day caffeine) isn’t tied to any long-term dangers for healthy people. Now, the word “healthy” is key (read on for more), and this is a general statement, not a directive. In other words, the committee isn’t saying that everyone should drink 3 to 5 cups a day.

Even if it may offer some benefits, it’s important to listen to your body. Some people can drink a strong cup of coffee and feel fantastic. Others may drink half a cup and feel jittery and be left with an upset stomach. There’s a lot of individual variation when it comes to how coffee makes you feel. So, don’t take this as a green light to down a pot a day. Consider what feels best for you. (And if the answer is none, there’s no reason to start drinking java.)

In short, if you have stomach ulcers or esophageal reflux you may want to cut back on your coffee intake because caffeine stimulates acid secretion. If you have a troublesome anxiety disorder and get more jittery after you drink coffee you should probably drink decaf or skip coffee entirely. All of us are different and to the extent that coffee bothers you it may be wise to cut back. On the other hand there are a lot of really good benefits from drinking coffee.

Coffee Benefits

The benefits of organic coffee are those of coffee and those of organic production, processing and storage.

Coffee drinkers are less likely to develop any of several types of cancer. Drink coffee regularly and you are less likely to get type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or depression. There are, unfortunately a whole host of chemical impurities that may be found in a cup of regular coffee. The benefits or organic coffee over regular coffee hinge on the fact that healthy organic coffee is free of these substances.

Hundred and Thirty Chemicals That You Can Do Without

Health authorities in Australia have found that more than 130 different impurities may be found in a cup of regular coffee. These contaminants include metals such as aluminum and zinc, pesticide residues, ochratoxin A, acrylamide, furan, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found to cause cancer. Furans have been associated with skin disorders, liver problems, certain kinds of cancers, impairment to the reproductive, endocrine, and immune system, as well as effects on embryonic development. The benefits or organic coffee start on the coffee farm when the farmer uses sustainable growing practices.

Reduce Risk of Age-Related Cataracts with Coffee

We have another health benefit to add to the list of reasons to drink healthy organic coffee and even regular coffee. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published an article showing that food antioxidants help prevent cataracts.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Information on incident age-related cataract diagnosis and extraction was collected through linkage to registers in the study area.

Results: There were 4309 incident cases of age-related cataracts during the mean 7.7 years of follow-up (234 371 person-years). The multivariable rate ratio in the highest quintile of the TAC of the diet compared with the lowest was 0.87 (95% CI, 0.79-0.96; P for trend = .03). The main contributors to dietary TAC in the study population were fruit and vegetables (44.3%), whole grains (17.0%), and coffee (15.1%).

That’s right. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains and coffee all contain antioxidants that help reduce the incidence of age related cataracts. Although there are foods with higher antioxidant concentration than coffee, the amount of coffee that people consume is such that most people derive the most antioxidants in their diets from coffee. So, you can reduce the risk of age-related cataracts with coffee.

What Are Cataracts?

The Mayo Clinic web site defines cataracts.

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window.

Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend’s face.

Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.

Cataracts from old age show up in a person’s 70’s and 80’s. If you reduce your risk of age-related cataracts with coffee you may be looking at your 80’s and 90’s as when you need to be concerned.

Why Does This Work?

Why can you reduce the risk of age-related cataracts with coffee and other high anti-oxidants foods and beverages? First of all what are antioxidants? The Nutrition Source at the Harvard School of Public Health defines antioxidants.

The body’s trillion or so cells face formidable threats, from lack of food to infection with a virus. Another constant threat comes from nasty chemicals called free radicals. They are capable of damaging cells and genetic material. The body generates free radicals as the inevitable byproducts of turning food into energy. Others are in the food you eat and the air you breathe. Some are generated by sunlight’s action on the skin and eyes.

Free radicals come in many shapes, sizes, and chemical configurations. What they all share is a voracious appetite for electrons, stealing them from any nearby substances that will yield them. This electron theft can radically alter the “loser’s” structure or function. Free radical damage can change the instructions coded in a strand of DNA. It can make a circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL, sometimes called bad cholesterol) molecule more likely to get trapped in an artery wall. Or it can alter a cell’s membrane, changing the flow of what enters the cell and what leaves it.

We aren’t defenseless against free radicals. The body, long used to this relentless attack, makes scads of molecules that quench free radicals as surely as water douses fire. We also extract free-radical fighters from food. These defenders are often lumped together as “antioxidants.” They work by generously giving electrons to free radicals without turning into electron-scavenging substances themselves.

The point of all this is that antioxidants defend us against the degrading effects of free radicals and in general promote good health.

More than Just Protection against Cataracts

Coffee and especially good organic coffee offer more than reduction of the risk of age-related cataracts. Consistent coffee consumption reduces the risk of Type II Diabetes, various forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression and the risk of suicide. Enjoy your morning coffee and benefit from those healthy antioxidants as well.

Drink More Coffee

No less an authority than the Dietary Guideline Advisory Panel says that you should drink more coffee. The Washington Post reports on why Americans should drink more coffee.

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The recommended level is three to five cups a day but the average American coffee consumption is one cup a day. The elite dietary panel says that you should drink more coffee. We also have a couple of suggestions regarding what kind of coffee you drink.

Grind Just before Brewing

Whole bean coffee lasts longer than ground coffee. So buy roasted coffee beans and grind just enough just before brewing. Not only is flavor preserved but regular and organic coffee antioxidants, the chemicals that make coffee healthy, last longer inside a whole bean. The Post also notes that most Americans drink bad coffee, namely ground coffee that sits on the shelf forever and has lost much of its flavor and health value.

People in this country, on the whole, are actually drinking worse coffee today than they have in the past. And the reason appears to be that they value cheapness over quality – and convenience over everything. “A lot of people in America would take a sip of single origin high-end coffee and not appreciate the taste,” said Howard Telford, an industry analyst at market research firm Euromonitor.

“Price is important because if you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it, but convenience is the one thing that’s really changing trends these days.” Indeed, the bulk of this country runs not on single-drip artisanal coffee, but standard, pre-ground coffee, which, by most coffee snobs’ measures, is one of coffee’s most inferior forms.

So, skip the convenient, cheap, ground, bad coffee and grind your whole bean coffee just before brewing. And, by the way, make it organic.

Why Organic Coffee

The point of drinking healthy organic coffee is that it is good for you and good for the environment.

Healthy organic coffee has been around for a long, long time. Unfortunately in the modern era the use of pesticides and herbicides has entered the picture in growing many crops, including otherwise healthy organic coffee. Although non-organic contaminants do not necessarily reduce the beneficial health effects of a healthy cup of organic coffee the non-organic contaminants cause problems of their own.

A study by the Australian Food Standards Authority revealed that as many as 133 contaminants may be in a cup of commercially available coffee. These contaminants include metals such as aluminum and zinc, pesticide residues, ochratoxin A, acrylamide, furan, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found to cause cancer. Furans have been associated with skin disorders, liver problems, certain kinds of cancers, impairment to the reproductive, endocrine, and immune system, as well as effects on embryonic development.

So, drink more coffee and reduce your risk of Type II diabetes, various forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and more. And drink healthy organic coffee and avoid the impurities too often found in regular coffee.