What Constitutes Gourmet Coffee?

What Constitutes Gourmet Coffee?

Many coffee lovers are willing to pay the extra price for gourmet coffee. Their expectation is that gourmet coffee will have better taste and aroma. But what constitutes gourmet coffee? And how much more do you have to pay to get a coffee that you enjoy a little bit more than your regular brand? A lot of so-called gourmet coffee is marketed by individual growers and the prices of these coffee brands is substantially higher than what one would pay for one of the top brands at a local grocery store or even bags of coffee sold at your favorite coffee shop.

What Does Gourmet Coffee Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, gourmet means the following:

of, relating to, or being high quality, expensive, or specialty food

typically requiring elaborate and expert preparation

In regard to coffee, gourmet or specialty generally means meticulous care from the harvest through all processing steps to an ideally roasted coffee. Coffee beans are selectively picked at peak ripeness and roasting is done in small batches. Coffee producers and roasters who offer gourmet products are trying to present their best efforts and typically expect to charge a premium price. To a large degree getting a gourmet quality coffee has to do with selective picking of coffee cherries at their maximum ripeness. This approach is more labor intensive and expensive than simply going out during the harvest and picking all of the cherries from a coffee plant. Also, it is more expensive, per coffee bean, to roast in small, controlled batches which also adds a bit to the cost. In addition, in order to get a price that rewards the extra work and expense a grower needs to market their product separately which adds one more cost. Nevertheless, the markup for gourmet coffee commonly goes beyond these factors.

Truly Gourmet Coffee Comes From Better Coffee Beans

Nobody, at least that we are aware of is trying to market Robusta coffee as gourmet. Robusta has more caffeine, the plants produce a greater yield, and Robusta has much greater resistance to coffee diseases like coffee leaf rust. But it has decidedly less flavor and aroma than Arabica coffee and certainly much less than a good Arabica from a region like the coffee growing axis of Colombia or Kona coffee from the Hawaiian Islands. In general, honestly promoted gourmet coffee generally comes from better coffee beans. An issue for us is that far too many “gourmet” brands are priced in the stratosphere instead of just having a markup to cover extra cost and provide a reasonable reward for the extra effort.

What Constitutes Gourmet Coffee?

How Much Does Gourmet Coffee Cost?

If you simply do a Google Search for gourmet coffee and take the top listing you will find yourself on Amazon.com with roasted whole bean coffees going for $1.70 an ounce. However, there are specialty gourmet coffees that sell for tens or even hundreds of dollars a pound. Panama Geisha, Hawaiian Kona Peaberry, and Jamaica Blue Mountain all come to mind. While these are all excellent coffees they command extremely high prices because their quantities are relatively small. Panama produces about 50,000 sacks (60 kg) every year. By comparison the Colombian Cafetero produces about 13,000,000 bags (60 kg) of uniformly high-quality Arabica coffee a year. We might argue that if Colombian coffee were as rare as some of the rarer high-quality coffees in the world it might similarly sell for hundreds of dollars a pound instead of $7.71 (29.500 COP) for a one-pound bag of whole bean roasted gourmet coffee at a local grocery store in Manizales, Colombia or $15 at an outlet in the USA.

Get Your Gourmet Coffee For a Reasonable Price From the Colombian Cafetero

The point we are getting to is that you do not need to pay extravagant prices for the highest quality gourmet coffee. Contact us at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org for help with your gourmet coffee needs at affordable prices.

The Problem of Organic Coffee Low Yields

The Problem of Organic Coffee Low Yields

We have written time and time again about the benefits of organic coffee both to the consumer and to the environment. However, the vast majority of coffee farmers do not bother with organic coffee. The reasons are that it is a lot more work to grow organically, the costs are greater, yields are less, and the prices that organic growers receive for their coffee do not justify organic coffee farming on strictly a financial basis. One can argue that sustainable agriculture has its own rewards, but that does not keep a coffee farmer from going broke during a couple of bad years! A major issue is the problem of organic coffee low yields.

Lip Service From the Organic Coffee Consumer

Here at BuyOrganicCoffee.org we frequently get requests for coffee from Colombia, both regular Arabica and organic. The coffee that we can provide is extremely high quality but consumers are generally not interested in paying the markup for shipping, for Colombian coffee, and for organic coffee. Because Colombian coffee farmers are not interested in giving away their high quality coffee for less than market value, folks are not getting their coffee. Thus, Colombian coffee farmers go back to farming sustainably but without organic certification. The point is that many folks give lip service to organic coffee but are unwilling to pay a price that would make organic coffee production financially viable for someone growing coffee in the Cafetero Colombiano.

The Problem of Organic Coffee Low Yields

The Problem of Low Organic Coffee Yields and Low Prices

Less than 7% of land used to cultivate coffee is dedicated to organic coffee. However, organic coffee production is much less than 7% of the total. Comparison studies have been carried out in several countries. Organic coffee yields lag by as little as a few percent to as much as 44%. Our own experience at Buyorganiccoffee.org is that many coffee growers that we have known have tried organic coffee and given it up. First reason commonly given is that they have to pay for certification and are not getting any more money for their coffee. This comes from folks who have been essentially organic but without official certification for years. The point is that not only does the price not make farmers go organic but they have to fight the yield issue. Thus the coffee farmer needs to make up for lower yield, more production costs, and an inadequate price which any business person is generally not willing to do.

Why Is Organic Coffee Yield Low?

A lot of organic coffee is shade grown. This generally results in a finer coffee. It also reduces the yield. However, the main reason that yields for organic are lower than regular is fertilizer. Commercial fertilizers are an efficient way to provide nutrients to the soil. When the organic coffee farmer goes with organic fertilizers they often find it difficult to get enough. Commercial fertilizer provides 40 kilograms of nitrogen to a hectare of land with between 90 and 270 kg. It requires more like 2000 kg of organic fertilizer to provide the same 40 kg of nitrogen per hectare.

Cost Versus Availability of Organic Fertilizer

Hog farmers in Iowa commonly use hog manure to fertilize their corn or soybeans. This sort of self-contained farming is very efficient. Coffee farmers in the mountains of western Colombia do not have large hog operations side by side. Thus they need to make do with compost and other lesser sources of nutrients and thus lower coffee yields. Alternatively the coffee farmer can pay to have huge amounts of organic fertilizer shipped to them and pay the extra cost which will not be recouped by a higher price for their coffee.

Will There Be a Shortfall in Colombian Coffee Production Due to El Niño?

The El Niño weather event that began in mid-2023 is weakening as of May of 2024.according to the World Meteorological Organization. Nevertheless, it continues to affect the climate at it origin along the west coast of South America and across the world. This El Niño event has been the fifth strongest on record. As such it has had various effects on coffee production in Colombia from positive to negative depending on the local micro-climate. Across the country as a whole and especially in the higher producing region of the Eje Cafetero, there could be a shortfall in Colombian coffee production in 2024.

Why Does El Niño Affect Coffee Production?

An El Niño weather event affects amounts of rainfall, humidity, temperature, cloud cover, and consequently plant diseases and plant growth. In contrast to the immediately preceding La Niña weather event which increased rainfall and cloud cover, humidity, and plant diseases, El Niño has provided more sunshine, less rain, higher temperatures, and periods of rain deficit during which time there is better flowering and fruit filling, provided that the rain deficit is not excessive. Thus coffee production is expected to recover from the deficit during the La Niña years. An additional benefit to coffee production has been lower fertilizer prices which has led to improved coffee crop nutrition.

Coffee Grown in Colombia’s Three Coffee Growing Regions

Colombia produces coffee year round but not all from the same growing region. The southern zone harvest coffee during the first half of the year. The central zone harvest during the second and third semesters, and the northern zone harvest takes place during the second half of the year. Weather forecasters are predicting that El Niño will continue to weaken and transition back into La Niña by the end of 2024.

Tail End of La Niña and Coffee Borer Beetles

A big factor that will have dragged down Colombian coffee production in 2024 will the increase in coffee borer beetles due to rainfall excess at the end of 2023. The problem was lower grain filling due to the beetle. To compensate for this, the drying weather in the middle of the year will likely increase the 2024 harvest. Toward the end of the year when the major harvests are taking place a big factor will be the availability of labor for picking and processing the coffee.

On the other hand, the flowerings responsible for the harvest are concentrated in the second half of the year, together with adequate rainfall, which could lead to an important harvest by the end of the year, where the availability of labor and the processing capacity will be decisive.

Will There Be a Shortfall in Colombian Coffee Production Due to El Niño?

El Niño Versus La Niña and Coffee Leaf Rust

Whether it is a normal year, an El Niño year, or a La Niña year, it tends to rain a lot in Colombia and there tends to be a lot of cloud cover. This is generally good for coffee plants in rich volcanic soil and adequate drainage. However, excess moisture also favors fungal infestations. The primary culprit in Colombia is coffee leaf rust, AKA Hemileia vastratrix. Colombia has risen to the challenge of this plant infestation in several ways. First of all, staring back in the 1980s when leaf rust first appeared in Colombia started creating resistant varieties. These include the Colombia variety and then Castillo and Cenicafe 1.

Other fungal infestations include Llaga Macana or Ceratocystis fimbriata and various Rhizoctonia species. There are no specifically resistant strains for these plant diseases so the coffee farmer is tasked with chores like clearing debris (fungal food) from around the coffee plants.

The bottom line is that Colombia coffee production will likely come in at a high level by the end of 2024.

Top Colombian Coffee Brands

Top Colombian Coffee Brands

Colombia produces a huge amount of Arabica coffee. It is the biggest exporter of this coffee of highest quality and the third leading exporter of all coffees by volume in the world. It ranks behind only Brazil which produces a substantial amount of Robusta coffee and Vietnam which produces almost exclusively Robusta coffee in terms of total coffee exports. We know that lots of folks drink Colombian coffee all over the world, but what brands of coffee do Colombians drink at home? There are top Colombian coffee brands based on price and convenience and there are top Colombian coffee brands based on quality.

Specialty Coffee Versus Grocery Store Coffee in Colombia

If you search on Google for Colombian coffee brands, best Colombian coffee, and the like you will virtually always get a list of brands that are paying to be promoted. These are pretty much always great Colombian coffees. However, as often noted in online postings within Colombia, the best brands at your local grocery store are of equal or even better quality than those you see which are paying for the exposure.

Colombian Grocery Store Coffee

Coffee that you see on the grocery store shelf in Colombia falls into three general categories, instant and often mixed with sugar and flavoring, inexpensive, and high quality. The inexpensive brands are almost always ground coffee. The highest quality coffees are either ground or whole bean. Three good examples are Colcafé instant, Sello Rojo ground coffee, and Quindío Gourmet whole bean. If you live in the USA and are interested in trying out Quindío Gourmet or any of their coffee products, contact us at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org today.

Cafe Quindío Example
Colcafe Examples
Sello Rojo Example

Colombian Coffee Served at Home

Perhaps the most common way that the average Colombian family makes coffee is similar to making Turkish coffee without the Ibrik. They add coffee grounds and sugar to a pot of water and bring in to a boil. Sello rojo (red seal) coffee is a common if not the most common brand seen in most households along with Lukafe and Aroma. Lukafe is made by Casa Luker which is a major world chocolate supplier. If you are interested in high quality green coffee from a large and reputable supplier in Colombia like Case Luke or Café Quindío, contact us today at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org.

Best Coffee by Price in Colombia

This photo of a portion of the coffee display devoted to Sello Rojo at the Mercaldas Las Palmas supermarket on Avenida Santander in Manizales, Colombia gives you an idea about the brands that Colombians drink the most. Sello Rojo, by the way, is pretty good coffee, often referred to as the Folgers brand of Colombia. It is always ground coffee but always reasonably fresh because it does not sit on the shelf very long before every bag is purchased and replaced with new.

Folks who drink high quality coffee like Café Quindío, La Loma, Juan Valdez, or Matiz commonly make pour over coffee, use a French press, or have an electric coffee percolator. These folks commonly buy whole bean coffee and grind enough each day for making their coffee.

Coffee Shop Coffee in Colombia

It is hard to go to a major city in Colombia and not find at least one Juan Valdez or Oma coffee shop. Juan Valdez is the name of fictional coffee farmer used to advertise Colombian coffee. And it is the name of a coffee brand and coffee shops. An advantage of going to a Juan Valdez coffee shop is that they sell bags of coffee from virtually every department that produces coffee in Colombia. Their department-specific coffee is priced about a third higher than there standard bag of coffee and about forty percent higher than a brand like Quindío Gourmet whole bean. Because great coffee is ubiquitous in Colombia, this writer commonly forsakes the Manizales Juan Valdez on Avenida Santander and buys his coffee at La Suiza across the street where they serve it in a porcelain cup instead paper and where the 70-year-old pastry shop and restaurant has great carrot cake.

Although Colombia produces organic coffee it produces far more coffee that is organic in everything except official certification. Likewise, many coffee roasters in Colombia do not bother with the export market but simply roast and sell to the local 51.87 million person market. Nevertheless, you can find organic coffee from the likes of Café Quindío, Juan Valdez, and many smaller coffee operations at major grocery store chains throughout Colombia.

Coffee From Colombia at Wholesale Prices

Coffee From Colombia at Wholesale Prices

The best place in the world to find huge amounts of fine Arabica coffee in one location is in the coffee growing region of Colombia. There are many great coffees in the world but no coffee growing region produces the amounts of consistently great Arabica coffee that is produced in the Colombian Eje Cafetero or coffee growing axis bounded by the departments of Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío of western Colombia. For those looking for wholesale pricing for either roasted whole bean coffee or green coffee ready for roasting, your best bet is to contact us at Buy Organic Coffee here in the heart of the Cafetero Colombiano. Simply send us an email at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org.

How To Order Wholesale Colombian Coffee

If you send us an email regarding coffee from Colombia at wholesale prices please include the following information:

General Type of coffee: roasted whole bean, roasted ground, green coffee ready for roasting

Specific Type of Coffee: are you looking for supremo or large beans, a specific variety like bourbon rosado, typical, or Caturra or simply Arabica

Quantity of coffee that you require: how many bags of coffee, how many tons of coffee, etc. and how often you will require these amounts

Your name and address for delivery of your coffee: are you ordering as an individual or a company and to what country, city, and address shall we have your coffee delivered?

Your Contact Information: if you wish to communicate by email please provide us with your email address. If you prefer a phone call or contact via WhatsApp, please provide that information.

Coffee From Colombia at Wholesale Prices
Different Varieties of Arabica Coffee Growing at Different Altitudes Along the Coffee Highway Between Pereira and Manizales, Colombia

Fresh Green Coffee From Colombia

There is often a hidden issue when you buy coffee. The issue is its degree of freshness. Green coffee stays reasonably fresh for up to three years when stored properly. Roasted whole bean coffee remains reasonably fresh for up to six months when stored correctly. A little over a decade ago we wrote an article how the government of Brazil purchased coffee directly from coffee growers and put it into storage in order to shore up prices. The issue regarding freshness in this case was that much of this coffee stayed in storage for as long a 8 years as the government feared that dumping their stockpiles would drive prices back down again. The problem for anyone looking for green coffee was that coffee sourced from Brazil could well have lost all of its freshness, its antioxidant properties, its flavor, and its aroma. The same issue exists when anyone buys from someone who has lots of coffee stored and wishes to get rid of their older stock by selling it to you! At BuyOrganicCoffe.org we help you get coffee from Colombia from the most recent harvest which means that it has been in storage for weeks or months at the most and not years and years!

Why Coffee from Colombia?

Colombia is the biggest producer and exporter of consistently high quality Arabica coffee. Similarly high quality coffee, in lesser quantities from individual growers or smaller regions is commonly promoted to the point where the price is substantially higher than what you will pay for either freshly roasted or green Arabica coffee ready to roast in commercial quantities from the Colombian coffee growing axis. Because of the high quality of coffee from Colombia it generally commands a higher price than that quoted for coffee on the NYMEX or New York Mercantile Exchange. However, this markup is a few percent as opposed to the multiples seen with heavily promoted coffees from specific coffee growers.

The point is that you can get fresh, high quality Arabica coffee from Colombia equal to the best-known brands in the world for reasonable wholesale prices via our services at BuyOrganicCoffee.org with offices in Manizales, Colombia in the heart of the Colombian Eje Cafetero.

Fresh Coffee from Colombia Nevado del Ruiz
Nevado del Ruiz Volcano looming over Manizales, Colombia
in the Heart of the Colombian Coffee Growing District

Are Sustainable Coffee Businesses Viable Financial Entities?

Are Sustainable Coffee Businesses Viable Financial Entities?

A primary goal when growing organic coffee is to develop a sustainable system of production. Coffee farmers strive to preserve the health of their soil, water table, and tree cover. By avoiding chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides a coffee grower maintains their organic certification. Ideally, this means that they can sell their coffee for more than otherwise. Sadly, that is not always the case. All too often a grower quits paying to have their operation certified because they do not have a ready market for the coffee produced by their sustainable operation. This brings us to the point for today. Are sustainable coffee businesses viable financial entities?

What Is a Sustainable Coffee Operation?

Sustainability has to do with not damaging the soil, water table and wider environment while growing coffee. Avoiding exploitation of workers is sometimes included in the definition of sustainable coffee. The point is to maintain a long term environmental balance by not depleting the soil, poisoning the water table, or damaging surrounding plants and animals. It commonly has to do with maintaining as much of the natural forest cover as possible as well.

Are Sustainable Coffee Businesses Viable Financial Entities?

Is Coffee Sustainability Costly?

In the coffee business there is the price that a grower can get for their coffee and the cost of producing coffee. The coffee price is notoriously volatile. The cost of producing coffee can be broken down into fixed and variable costs. On an organic coffee farm labor costs are significantly higher due to weeding and other activities to control weeds and pests that would otherwise be dealt with by chemicals. In addition, there are labor costs associated with picking the coffee, multiple times because coffee beans do not all ripen at once, and processing. In a year when coffee prices are high in dollars and the local currency is weak in relation to the dollar, a coffee grower may do very well. When both coffee prices in dollars and the dollar itself fall against a local currency like the Colombian peso, a farmer may have a bumper crop and still lose money!

Sustainable Coffee Businesses Going Out of Business

Coffee News recently published an article about sustainable coffee businesses going out of business. They discuss both fixed fees like taxes, cooperative fees, and mortgage costs as well as labor and costs of chemicals or fertilizers to the extent that they may be used. When leaf rust strikes a coffee farm the costs of labor soar and, even when efforts to fight the plant disease are successful, coffee yield drops significantly. Because of the prevalence of coffee leaf rust in Central and South America, this can be a major factor in the survival of sustainable coffee businesses.

Relationships With Green Coffee Buyers and Business Survival

Over the years we have spoken with coffee growers in Panama and Colombia who went to the expense of having their coffee farms certified as organic. In many cases these growers had already been running what were essentially organic operations so there was little extra expense involved. However, they were not able to link up with a buyer who could guarantee them the sort of premium prices that should go with organic, sustainable coffee farming. In several cases the coffee farmers gave up their certification by simply not paying for the paperwork after a few years. We might compare this with something like the sugar beet business in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota where growers are routinely guaranteed a set price for a set amount of sugar beets every year. This area includes many prosperous sugar beet farmers who have maintained their farms for generations. The key issue seems to be whether or not the market will be willing to pay for higher quality over the years!

How Many Coffee Varieties Are There?

How Many Coffee Varieties Are There?

Readers of our articles on Buyorganiccoffee.org will have realized that our decided coffee preference is Arabica coffee as opposed to Robusta or other kinds.. They will also have noted that there are many varieties of Arabica coffee. In fact, there are more than ten thousand different varieties of coffee! The majority of these are not commercially available or even commercially viable as they are sub-varieties growing where coffee started in the mountains of Ethiopia. Nevertheless, for those interested in checking out different coffee varieties, here is a bit of useful information.

What Is a Coffee Variety?

Varieties of coffee are types that are genetically different from each other. The genetic differences result in slightly different tastes, aromas, caffeine content, plant size, plant yield, tolerance of extreme temperatures, resistance to plant diseases and pests, and productive life of the coffee plants. A commonly used example for varieties is the apple. There are Granny Smiths, Gala, and Red Delicious. A red delicious may be better for peeling and eating but Granny Smith is generally better for making an apple pie! Similarly with coffee, slight genetic differences will result in a coffee that you prefer versus another that you dislike.

How Many Coffee Varieties Are There?

How Do New Coffee Varieties Happen?

Coffee grows in the wild. It started in Africa but can grow anywhere in the tropical regions of the world. When a plant is left alone it may experience genetic changes. If the changes result in better survival, the changes are passed on and when genetic changes are damaging that strain commonly dies out. This process has to do with plant survival and little to do with you getting the best cup of coffee.

Commercial Coffee Varieties

Since humankind first started domesticating plants about 10,000 years ago, people have chosen the seeds of the best tasting, best producing, hardiest, individual plants and selectively replanted them. This speeds the process so that it goes faster than natural selection. And, while plants are selected for their hardiness they are also selected for taste, aroma, ability to store their fruit, and any other quality that humans wish. Thus, we have high quality Arabica coffee and its many sub-varieties because it is a great coffee.. And we have Robusta and its sub-varieties because it produces more caffeine, larger plants, and greater yield. Since the arrival of coffee leaf rust on the scene, growers have selected for qualities of plants that confer resistance to the disease. Folks like the Colombian Coffee Growers Association have even cross bred Arabica and varieties like Robusta to obtain greater disease resistance. The goal is always to preserve the fine taste and aroma of Arabica while gaining resistance against leaf rust and other plant diseases.

How Many Arabica Varieties Are There?

Although there are more than 100 potentially available commercial coffee species and thousands of wild species, there are many fewer commercially viable varieties or cultivars, which is a common term for domestic varieties. An early domesticated variety or cultivar is tipica. This was the variety of coffee that first left Ethiopia for the Arabian peninsula and subsequently was grown all over the world. A problem with basic typica is that it has a poor yield and is susceptible to plant diseases. This issue has been remedied by creating typical sub-varieties such as Arusha, Benguet, Bergendal Sidikalang, Bernardina, Blue Mountain, a Bourbon varieties, Catuai, Catimor, Caturra, Kona, Maragogipe (a natural typical mutation), Mundo Novo, Pacamara, Pacas (natural mutation), Pache Colis, Pache Comum, Sagada, and Santos. In a major coffee growing region like Colombia the predominant varieties are standard Arabica (typica), Bourbon, and Caturra.

Why Are Some Coffee Varieties More Common?

Coffee farmers are creatures of habit. They plant the same variety of coffee on the same land time and time again because they get a good yield of a good coffee and a good price for their product. They generally only change varieties when they have been having problems with disease like leaf rust. In this case a grower in Colombia would change from standard Arabica or typica to Caturra because it has a higher resistance to leaf rust. Because a healthy Arabica coffee plant can produce normally for thirty years and as long as fifty with lower yield, it is entirely possible that a grower is never confronted with the need to plant new plants and thus consider different varieties in their working lifetime. On the other hand, when left rust or other infestations kill entire fields of coffee, this becomes an issue. When a coffee variety reliably produces good yield, acceptable disease resistance, and a good price it goes into common use and that only changes when those conditions change.

Thus, for the coffee drinker interested in finding new varieties to try, it can be difficult to find most of them unless one were to travel to remote regions of the world where a given variety is grown and consumed.

Coffee Antioxidants and Your Health

Coffee Antioxidants and Your Health

Coffee has a whole host of health benefits. Why is that? There has been a lot of research into the health benefits of coffee and a major factor appears to be that coffee, especially Arabica coffee from places like Colombia, is rich in antioxidants. With that in mind we have given a bit of thought to coffee antioxidants and your health. The first thing to consider is oxidation and why too much of it can be a bad thing.

What Is Oxidation?

Oxidation has to do with oxygen reacting with other elements or chemicals and changing them. Within the human body oxidation creates what are called free radicals as a result of this process. The issue for one’s health is that free radicals cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can break down DNA, damage cells, and inflammation. These can, in turn, result in conditions like high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, diabetes, disorders related to obesity and even types of cancer.

What Are Antioxidants?

As one might expect, an antioxidant helps put the brakes on oxidative processes. Because the free radicals that can cause damage to cells and DNA are produced normally during natural metabolism, the presence of antioxidants is important. Vitamins A, C, and E have antioxidant properties as do beta-carotene and lycopene. But these are often not enough to do the job of protecting the body against free radicals. Here is where external sources of antioxidants come into play.

Coffee Antioxidants and Your Health

Coffee Is the Biggest Source of Antioxidants for Many People

Coffee has a lot of antioxidants, about 200mg to 550 mg per cup. This is comparable to red wine. However, blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, kidney and pinto beans, raspberries, strawberries, apples and green leafy vegetables all have higher antioxidant contents. So, why is coffee the biggest source of antioxidants for most people? It is because we drink so much coffee! Americans drink about 400 million cups of coffee a day. Consumption of things like cranberries and artichokes pales in comparison to coffee intake.

What Are the Antioxidants in Coffee?

Green coffee beans have antioxidants and others are produced during coffee roasting. Green coffee has significant amounts of chlorogenic, ferulic, caffeic, and n-coumarinic acids, all of which are strong antioxidants. During roasting there is a reaction between sugars and amino acids in the coffee beans. Melanoidins are produced a coffee is roasted while chlorogenic acid may be reduced, especially in a dark roast.

Health Benefits of Coffee

As noted on the Johns Hopkins University website, coffee has a whole bunch of health benefits. First of all, at any age, coffee drinkers are likely to live longer than folks who do not drink coffee. This is because drinking coffee cuts down the risks of diabetes, kidney disease, and coronary heart diseases. In regard to diabetes, coffee drinkers have a significantly lower risk of getting Type II diabetes, the more common form of the disease. Drinking coffee regularly is linked to lower risks of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, liver problems, colon cancer, stroke, and general damage to one’s DNA. Virtually all of these health benefits can be linked to the protective effects of antioxidants in coffee. As a rule, the more cups of coffee a day one drinks, the greater the benefit. However, this tops out at about six cups of coffee a day.

How Coffee Affects the GI Tract

How Coffee Affects the GI Tract

Coffee has a whole host of benefits for a person’s health. But coffee drinkers can also be prone to heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. The fact is that there are quite a few gi effects of drinking coffee, both positive and negative. That being the case, we present a short summary of how coffee affects the GI tract. Our article relies heavily on information from a review of the literature article published in Nutrients in 2022. Our treatment of this issue starts at the top of the gi tract.

Coffee and Salivary Enzyme Production

The first effect of coffee on the digestive system happens in the mouth with increased secretion of an enzyme that helps digest starches (polysaccharides). Studies have shown that drinking coffee can increase secretion of the salivary enzyme alpha-amylase and/or not affect it. Interestingly, the effect is more pronounced with cold as opposed to hot or warm coffee. The level of salivary enzyme increase appears to be unrelated to any gastrointestinal symptoms or complaints.

Coffee and Secretions in the Stomach

When we eat something and it arrives in the stomach, the stomach responds by secreting hydrochloric acid as well as digestive enzymes like lipase, pepsin, and chymosin. When we drink coffee it increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid. Caffeinated coffee does this more robustly than decaffeinated coffee. While coffee increases the amount of acid secreted it does not affect how quickly the stomach empties. Thus, food and excessive acid may remain in the stomach for the normal length of time.

How Coffee Affects the GI Tract

Coffee and Problems of the Esophagus and Stomach

Most folks who are interested in how coffee affects the gi tract also have gi problems after drinking coffee. They get heartburn, upset stomach, gas, nausea, etc. A major issue for gastro-esophageal reflux is incompetence of or relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, the band of muscles that normally keeps stomach contents and acid from going back up the esophagus. Coffee appears to decrease the effectiveness of the lower esophageal sphincter with, in turn, can allow stomach acid reflux into the esophagus. This can be a problem because, unlike the stomach which tolerates a high level of acid, the esophagus does not. The acid causes irritation, inflammation, ulceration, scaring, and even Barrett’s esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer.

It should be noted that many other dietary factors as well as obesity typically contribute to gastro-esophageal reflux.

Coffee and the Gallbladder and Pancreas

When partially digested food passes out of the stomach it goes to the duodenum where gallbladder and pancreatic enzymes are added. Coffee is known to increase both bile production from the gallbladder and contractility of the gallbladder via the hormone cholecystokinin. This effect happens with both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Cholecystokinin also stimulates the pancreas to secrete other enzymes that help digest starches, proteins, and fats. Another effect of coffee is that it appears to reduce the incidence of gallstones at the rate of about a 5% decrease per cup of coffee per day.

Coffee and Bacterial Populations in the Intestinal Tract

There is a lot of research showing that coffee consumption can affect the relative levels of three most common types of bacteria in the lower intestinal tract, Bacteroides, Prevotella, and Ruminococcus. There do not appear to be all that many significant effects on health due to how coffee affects these bacterial levels.

Coffee and Cancer of the GI Tract

Numerous studies have shown that drinking coffee slightly reduces the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, and gallbladder. There does not appear to be an association be risk of cancer of the large intestine and coffee consumption.

Common Sense and Coffee Consumption

All of the research into coffee and gi tract issues involves large groups of people and statistical significance. For the individual it is a different issue. If you find that drinking too much coffee regularly results in heartburn, cut back on you consumption. If you can drink coffee without problems by drinking only with a meal, do that. If you blood pressure is high and reliably goes up with three or four cups of coffee a day, cut back on your consumption. In the end, common sense will be your best guide if you think coffee is causing problems in your gastrointestinal tract.

El Niño and Colombian Coffee Production

El Niño and Colombian Coffee Production

The El Niño weather pattern is back and coffee producers in Colombia are concerned. Colombia is the world’s third leading producer of coffee and the leading producer of high quality Arabica coffee. Less rainfall, more sunny days, and higher temperatures are likely to affect coffee production, coffee diseases, and coffee quality. How long this lasts and how severe its impact will likely determine the quality as well as the price your cup of coffee in the coming year. Thus we are concerned about El Niño and Colombian coffee production.

What Is El Niño?

El Niño is a recurring weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean. Trade winds that normally blow west along the equator weaken or even reverse and blow east. Normally cold water rises from the ocean depths to replace the water flowing west. This ceases during an El Niño event and the jet stream moves south of its normally neutral position over the equator. Warm water can be pushed back east toward the west coast of the Americas during an El Niño event. While all of this creates more rainfall in the western USA, countries along the west coast of South America experience less rainfall. This includes the coffee growing regions of Colombia. El Niño occurs on the average every seven years but can happen every couple of years or not for ten years or more. The typical El Niño lasts less than a year but can last longer such as the 1991 to 1995 El Niño event.

El Niño and Colombian Coffee Production

How Does El Niño Affect Colombia?

Warmer and dryer weather caused by El Niño can affect both the main coffee crop in Colombia and the secondary mitaca crop. How long El Niño event this will last is a guess even for meteorologists. The most important time will be first months of 2024 with lower rainfall and higher temperatures throughout the coffee growing regions. Historically an El Niño event will increase production of the secondary or mitaca crop. The main crop can be increased or decreased.

A moderate El Niño event historically tends to increase Colombian coffee by fifteen or sixteen percent. A stronger event may even reduce production below average levels. A normal El Niño year will result in between one million three hundred thousand and one million eight hundred thousand extra bags of Colombia coffee production.

Specific issues include rainfall or lack of it when coffee plants are flowering. If plants become excessively dry at this time in can result in a much greater reduction in coffee production than otherwise anticipated. One blessing in disguise that comes with El Niño is that coffee leaf rust is less of a problem when coffee growing areas dry out.

Effect of El Niño On Colombia Coffee Quality

A typical El Niño event causes a substantial increase in coffee borer infestations. There is also typically an increase in the percentage of lower grades of coffee by as much as six to nine percent. Coffee borer infestations intend to increase by about five percent. Filling defects like “averanado” beans become more common as do smaller screen sizes, and black bean. As many as seven hundred thirty-two bags of substandard coffee above the average is being projected for this El Niño weather event.

Effects of El Niño and Latitude in Colombia

Historically the various regions of Colombia are affected differently by El Niño. Northern regions above 7 degrees north latitude and regions below 3 degrees north latitude are less affected by El Niño events. These areas include Huila and east of Caldas. Altitude and cloud cover can be major factors in whether El Niño helps of hurts the local coffee crop.