All About Coffee

Coffee is a beverage brewed from the seed (bean) of the Coffea plant. More than half of all Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day. Americans average 3 cups a day and spend about $40 billion a year on their coffee. (Harvard School of Public Health)

The History of Coffee: Ethiopian Legend to Modern Genetic Testing

In Ethiopia, they tell the story of Kaldi the goat herder who saw his goats become energized by eating berries from a tree. The legend has it that Kaldi tried the same berries and experienced the same effect. He then reported this finding to the abbot of a local monastery who made a drink of the berries and thus became the first person to drink coffee. According to the legend, the berries and the drink spread from monastery to monastery, and eventually beyond Ethiopia.

Recorded history tells us that by the 1400’s coffee was grown and traded on the Arabian Peninsula and by the 1500’s people were drinking coffee in Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Persia (Iran). By the 1600’s coffee arrived in Europe where the clergy in Venice condemned the drink and asked the Pope to intervene. Pope Clement VIII tried the “bitter invention of Satan,” liked it, and gave coffee the papal seal of approval. (National Coffee Association)

Modern researchers have trekked the highland of East Africa in search of wild coffee. The genetic testing done on these wild varieties of coffee indicates that Arabica coffee originated in the Southeastern area of evergreen forests in the mountainous Sidarno and Harar provinces of Ethiopia. The same testing indicates that Arabica coffee was taken to Yemen and the Southern Arabian Peninsula and grown there as the next step in its spread around the world.  ( The researchers make no mention, however, about Kaldi or his goats!

Colombian Coffee
Colombian Coffee

What about the Plants That Give Us Coffee?

Scientifically, coffee is a woody perennial evergreen dicotyledon that belongs to the Rubiaceae family. You can now forget that part. What is more important to us coffee drinkers is that there are two main coffee species, Coffea Arabica (Arabica coffee) and Coffea canephora (Robusta coffee). ( Robusta is more hardy, more prolific, more disease-resistant, and does not taste as good. Robusta also has more caffeine.

Arabica is less prolific, less hardy, more prone to diseases like coffee leaf rust, and has less caffeine. But Arabica tastes significantly better than Robusta, so your gourmet coffee brands are almost always Arabica.

Coffee does not survive freezing temperatures. So, all coffee is grown in the tropics (where it does not freeze) in what is called “The Bean Belt” or “Coffee Belt.” This is , between 25 degrees North latitude and 30 degrees South latitude. Arabica is grown at higher altitudes, at lower temperatures, and in richer soil. Robusta grows better at lower altitudes, at higher temperatures, and can tolerate poorer soil. (National Coffee Association).

Caturra and Arabica Coffee Plants Side by Side
Caturra and Arabica Coffee Plants Side by Side

Economics: The Money Aspects of Coffee

  • Worldwide coffee consumption is about 500 billion cups a year
  • Most coffee is consumed in economically developed nations
  • 90% of coffee is grown in developing nations
  • 25 million people make their living on coffee farms
  • The fastest growing niche in the restaurant business is coffee shops
  • Northern Europeans rank highest for who drinks the most coffee per capita
  • The USA consumes the most coffee of any nation

(Business Insider)

The Whole Process from Planting the Coffee Seed to Your Cup of Java

Yes, Coffee Starts with a Seed (the coffee bean)

To grow coffee, a coffee farmer plants the beans (seeds) in moist and shaded soil. This is typically done in a nursery where the seedlings are protected from bright sunlight and watered often. When the plants are strong enough, they are planted in the field. Farmers do this in the rainy season to let the coffee plant establish its root structure before the soil dries out.

Waiting and Then Picking Coffee

When the coffee farmer plants coffee, he needs to wait for the plant to mature before he can get a coffee crop. Coffee takes three to four years to mature and produce fruit, the coffee cherry. Coffee is ready to pick when the cherry is a deep and bright red. And, when the coffee cherry is ripe, there is also a distinctive odor in the field, another indication that the time is right to bring in the coffee crop.  In most coffee growing regions, there is one harvest a year. However, in some countries like Colombia, Arabica coffee has a primary and a secondary harvest each year.

The large and flat coffee fields in Brazil are commonly strip picked by machine. In mountainous regions at altitudes of 3,000 feet to 7,000 feet, coffee pickers climb up and down the slopes picking by hand. A hand picker can also strip the plant of all of its cherries or selectively pick just the ripest cherries. Selective picking is used for high-quality Arabica coffees and requires that the picker return every week to ten days to pick again. A picker can bring in between 100 and 200 pounds of cherries a day. After processing this is between 20 and 40 pounds of coffee.

Soaking and Raking the Coffee: Processing and Drying

The coffee farmer needs to process his picked coffee quickly. Otherwise, it starts to spoil. A few bad beans, called “stinkers” can ruin a batch of coffee. There are two ways to process coffee, dry and wet.

Coffee Drying in the Sun
Coffee Drying in the Sun

Dry Coffee Processing: Sunlight, Raking, and Time

Dry processing is pretty basic. The cherries are spread out in the sun. A worker rakes the beans frequently to turn them over and make sure that all of them are drying. And, the workers must cover the beans in case of rain and at night so that the morning dew does not moisten the coffee again. They keep doing this until the cherries are dried to 11 percent moisture content. This can take several weeks! Small coffee farms in dry areas and coffee farmers without a lot of money use this process.

Wet Coffee Processing: First You Soak the Coffee but You Still Need to Dry It!

With wet processing, the cherries are fed into a pulping machine. This separates pulp and skin from the coffee bean. Beans are separated by weight using water channels where heavy beans sink and light beans float. Then, the beans are separated by size using a series of screens or rotating drums.

For wet processing, the beans are left in fermentation tanks filled with water for up to 48 hours. This removes another layer called the parenchyma and a layer of mucilage on the parchment. Then the beans are rinsed one more time before drying.

Wet processed coffee beans can be dried by the sun to 11% moisture content as is done with dry processing. On a large commercial coffee farm, they will tumble dry the coffee in drying machines.

When the coffee beans are dry, they are still encased in a layer of parchment and are called parchment coffee.

One More Step: Milling the Coffee Beans

The parchment is removed from the coffee bean by a specialized hulling machine. Another optional step is polishing which removes any loose bits of silver skin from the bean. In Latin America, the company that does this is called a “trilladora” and is also a company that sells or exports coffee.

Roasting coffee requires that the roaster checks the temperature, smells the roasting coffee, and listens for first and second crack.
Roasting Coffee at a Trilladora in Manizales, Colombia

Getting the Sizes Right: Sorting and Grading Coffee

At this point, the coffee beans are sorted by size. This is done by passing them over screens of decreasing size. Larger beans such as Colombian Supremo are considered superior and command a higher price. Defective beans are removed by hand and the coffee is ready for sale or export.

Exporting Coffee for Your Cup of Java

To make export cost-effective, green coffee beans are packed in jute or sisal bags and loaded into shipping containers. Alternatively, the beans are loaded into plastic lined containers for shipping.
(National Coffee Association)

Where Is Your Coffee Grown?

Coffee comes from the “Bean Belt” roughly between to Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The biggest exporters are Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras.

June 2018 Exports in Thousands of 60 KG Bags

  • Vietnam: 2,575
  • Brazil: 2,548
  • Colombia: 918
  • Honduras: 856
  • Ethiopia: 599
  • India: 591
  • Uganda: 320
  • Mexico: 300
  • Nicaragua: 300
  • Indonesia: 250
  • Peru: 240

Sixty percent of coffee exports are Arabica coffee and forty percent are Robusta coffee. The big news this year is that Vietnam passed Brazil in their total volume of coffee exports. However, Vietnam produces Robusta coffee while Brazil produces both Arabica and Robusta. The leading producers of Arabica coffee are Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras.

Manizales: Juan Valdez Coffee Shop
Manizales, Colombia: Juan Valdez Coffee Shop

The August 1, 2018, Arabica mild coffee price was $132.70 for 100 pounds while Robusta was $83.70 for 100 pounds.

You may not know this, but much of Vietnam’s Robusta output is purchased for the caffeine that goes into soft drinks like Coca Cola! (NPR)

(International Coffee Organization)

Social Issues Relating to Coffee

It used to be that coffee was coffee and nobody worried much about where it came from or how it was produced. But, that has changed. We have gotten accustomed to drinking better coffee and even buying gourmet coffee brands. And, we have learned more over the years about the effects of how coffee is grown. These effects have to do with impurities in the coffee we drink, deforestation of tropical forests, degradation of the soil and water tables in coffee growing regions, and the near poverty in which many coffee farmers and workers live. Thus, many coffee drinkers are fussier about the quality and safety of the coffee they drink and about social issues like fair prices for small coffee farmers and preservation of habitat for migratory birds.

Fair Trade Coffee:   A Fair Deal for Small Coffee Farmers and Their Workers

People drink coffee all over the world. But nine-tenths of all coffee production comes from developing countries. While twenty-five million people work in the coffee business, many work for subsistence wages. And, coffee is a commodity with a price determined in trading markets far from where it is grown. It was after the collapse of coffee prices in the 1980s that Fairtrade was started.

As the Fairtrade website states,

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

The goal of Fairtrade is to guarantee predictable and better prices for coffee farmers as well as better wages, working conditions, and lives for workers at the base of the coffee industry.

As we mention in our article about Fair Trade Coffee,

None of these growers have the pricing power to gain a better market share or better price. They are largely at the mercy of a global supply chain. And the profits increase as one ascends the supply chain away from the coffee farmer.

Many coffee drinkers drink Fairtrade coffees because they are good coffees and because there seems to be more social justice in the Fairtrade movement than with other coffees.

Bird Safe Coffee: Preserving Rainforest Habitat for Birds

When farmers clear land in the tropical rainforest to plant coffee or other crops, they destroy the habitat where birds live. These are both local species and ones that migrate with the seasons. One of the important shade grown coffee benefits is that preserving the trees gives the birds a place to live!

Forested coffee farms are bio-rich buffer zones for plants, flowers, and wildlife that are at risk as a result of deforestation and poor land management. Planting coffee under the existing forest canopy results in a high-quality coffee.

The Smithsonian Institution has taken up the cause of the birds with their Bird Friendly® coffee certification.

The Bird Friendly® program aims to protect the most quality habitat from the threat of deforestation under the Bird Friendly seal. Bird Friendly coffees come from farms using a combination of foliage cover, tree height, and biodiversity to provide quality habitat for birds and other wildlife.

As with Fair Trade coffee, people drink these coffees because they are excellent shade grown coffees and to help protect the environment for the birds.

Sustainable Coffee Farming: Saving the Land for the Next Generation

A coffee farmer loves growing coffee. It is a labor of love. But, coffee farming is also a business. Many large coffee farmers clear-cut the land, use synthetic fertilizers, and apply pesticides and herbicides to increase their yield. These techniques increase the amount of coffee they grow and improve their short-term profits. Unfortunately, pesticides and herbicides seep into the ground and the water table. Clear-cut land is often subject to erosion.

Coffee farmers who want to pass their farms on to the next generation are more likely to practice sustainable coffee farming in order to protect the water table and preserve their land.

If you want to support farmers who practice sustainable coffee farming, drink organic, shade grown, and Fair Trade coffees as these coffees are grown using sustainable agricultural practices. Or, support the many Colombian coffee farmers who practice sustainable coffee farming without being certified by anyone.

Organic Coffee: Good for You and Good for the Environment

The best organic coffee brands have several things in common.

  • Climate, soil, elevation
  • A culture of growing coffee
  • Certification
  • Aroma, flavor, and antioxidants
  • Dedication to growing the best coffee

Growing organic coffee protects the environment and produces a cup of coffee free of many potential contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. You will like your organic coffee because it is the most often excellent Arabica. You will be safe drinking organic coffee because it is free of unwanted chemicals. And, you can feel good about drinking organic coffee because you can protect the environment for future generations.

To make sure that you are getting organic coffee, look for evidence of certification on the container. The gold standard for organic coffee certification is the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture. Look for their seal to make sure that the coffee you are buying is certified organic.

USDA Organic Coffee Certification Is the Gold Standard
USDA Organic Coffee Certification

The Rise of Specialty and Gourmet Coffee

The early rise of gourmet and specialty coffee can be traced back to Alfred Peet.

At a time when a cup of coffee was just a cup of coffee, Alfred Peet introduced us to the concept that coffee could be special. Alfred Peet taught us that the quality of coffee and its sourcing are important.

According to the (Investor’s Business Daily), Alfred Peet was a pioneer who brewed better coffee in America. He traveled to coffee growing regions and visited the farms. He sourced his coffee, bringing back the best to roast and brew for his customers. This was in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Berkley, California. Today, it is hard to pass through a major city without running into a Starbucks, Tully’s, Costa, or Caribou as well as countless neighborhood coffee houses serving specialty and gourmet coffees.

We referenced the Investor’s Business Daily article because coffee houses are the fastest growing niche in the restaurant business! Local coffee shops and large chains sell first and second wave coffee. What is this all about?

First Wave Coffee: Roasted, Ground, Ready to Brew

First wave coffee refers to companies like Folgers and Maxell House who sold mass produced coffee from the late 1800s to the late 1900’s. This coffee was roasted, ground, and ready to brew. The first wave also produced instant coffee, vacuum packed coffee, and drip coffee makers. The quality was not always so good, but no one noticed because there was little competition in the USA until the likes of Alfred Peet and others changed the game.

Second Wave Coffee: Sourced, Better Coffee, Gourmet Brands, Organic

After Alfred Peet, others picked up on the idea that coffee drinkers would pay more for a really good coffee that was freshly roasted and brewed.

The rise of Coffee house coffee in the USA also had its roots in Europe after World War II when GIs tasted espresso for the first time. The term “Americano” comes from the fact that American soldiers were used to the coffee that mom made back on the farm in Iowa, lots of it but not so strong. Europeans learned to dilute the espresso with water for these “Americanos.”

A coffee shop chain like Starbucks serves second wave coffee. Their coffee is sourced, roasted on site, and served as espresso, latte, mocha, and other variations to customers who come back again and again for reliably good coffee.

Third Wave Coffee: Which Farm, What Altitude, What Kind of Soil?

The Third Wave is very recent. Coffee connoisseurs learn the exact farm on which their coffee was grown. They become experts regarding altitude, soil, and production methods. Coffee tastings similar to wine tastings are common in coffee shops catering to the Third Wave. But, is Third Wave coffee really better, or just an expensive fad? There are coffee lovers who will visit a Third Wave coffee house for tastings but still regularly frequent their favorite local coffee house.

(Craft Beverage Jobs, the History of First, Second, and Third Wave Coffee)

Why Is Coffee Good for Your Health?

Once upon a time, we drank coffee to wake up in the morning and stay awake at work, or on long cross-country trips in the car. Too much coffee gave us the jitters and if we had high blood pressure the doctor said to cut out the coffee.

This has all changed! Researchers have uncovered a whole host of regular and organic coffee health benefits.

Would you like to reduce your risk of type II diabetes? Drink more coffee.

And, coffee appears to reduce the incidence of cancer of the prostate, liver, endometrium, and mouth and throat. (American Cancer Society)

Drinking coffee has been linked to a lower likelihood of developing degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. And there is evidence that at any point in life you can reduce your incidence of dying in the next few years by drinking coffee. (Circulation)

What interests many coffee drinkers are two more health benefits of drinking coffee, better athletic performance and better sex!

Most health benefits of coffee start at just a cup a day and increase up to about six cups. For better athletic performance, a cup or two before working out will be enough.

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee - Nevado del Huila
Nevado del Huila – Tallest Volcano in Colombia

The Coffee World Moves On with Better Coffee at Home and Roasting Your Own

As we taste better coffee in the coffee shop or even in McDonald’s, many of us are no longer satisfied with our old Folgers or Maxwell House coffee at home. As a result, we buy gourmet coffee, organic coffee, Fair Trade coffee, and coffees from the far reaches of the world. We compare coffee from Ethiopia with coffee from Brazil. We try making Turkish coffee, organic Irish coffee, or café de olla to go with Mexican food.

And, we buy green coffee beans and roast our coffee at home! That becomes an adventure as we start with an old popcorn popper and end up putting out fires! Then, we move on to real home coffee roasters and become experts in first and second crack, the smell of roasting coffee, and learning just the right roasting profile for pink bourbon coffee from Huila, Colombia as opposed to mountain grown coffee from Caldas, Colombia.

Pink Bourbon Coffee Finca La Paula Useful Coffee Insights and Information for Coffee Lovers

At we observe the world of coffee. We write about the world of coffee. And, we try to provide you, our readers, with information you need regarding coffee, and coffee-related products. Our hope and our goal are to help you find the coffee you want whether it is organic, Fair Trade, Bird Friendly, or just sustainably grown.

When you need accurate and insightful information about roasting coffee and coffee roasters, we will provide it on our site. Likewise, we will post reviews about other coffee-related products from time to time.

If you have a question about coffee, organic coffee, or the equipment needed to produce a great cup of coffee at home, please feel free to leave a comment on our site or send us an email at

We will get back to you and may even feature your question, and our answer, in one of our blogs!

All About Coffee – Slideshare Version

All About Coffee – PDF

Coffee Roasting

Coffee roasting turns green coffee into the dark brown aromatic beans used to make your cup of morning cup of java. The green coffee beans you start out with are spongy and smell a little like grass. With coffee roasting a series of chemical processes take place that totally change the flavor and aroma of the coffee bean.

More than a hundred different chemical and physical changes happen during coffee roasting. And, more seem to be discovered with each passing year. The basic changes are these.

  • Decomposition of sucrose
  • Loss of free water
  • Decrease in total protein
  • Loss of chlorogenic acid
  • Decomposition of trigonelline
  • Formation of melanoidins, lactones, aliphatic acids, aromatic components

(Science Direct)

Coffee Roasts

Coffee roasting at successively higher temperatures and for more time creates successive changes that alter the quality of the roast. The finished roast is classified as mild, medium, medium-dark, or dark.

Light Roasts

This level of roast has a light-brown color. They are removed from the roaster before any oil breaks through the surface of the bean. Use this level of roast for milder varieties of coffee in order not to lose their subtle taste and aroma.

  • Light City
  • Half City
  • Cinnamon

Medium Roasts

A medium roast has a deeper brown color and stronger flavor than a light roast. It also has a non-oily surface. This is the level of roast most often preferred in the USA and is also referred to as the “American Roast.”

  • City
  • American
  • Breakfast

Medium-dark Roast

With this roast some oil comes to the surface of the dark brown bean. The taste of this roast is deeper and richer. And, a medium-dark roast is where you will begin to experience a bitter-sweet aftertaste.

  • Full City

Dark Roasts

At this level of roast the almost-black bean is shiny due to coffee oil that has broken through to the surface of the bean. Dark roasts are noticeably bitter. As a rule, coffee becomes less acidic with successively darker roasts. This level of roast ranges from a very dark brown bean to a charred bean!

  • High
  • Continental
  • New Orleans
  • European
  • Espresso
  • Viennese
  • Italian
  • French

(National Coffee Association)

The level of roast you aim for in your home roasting will vary with your taste. Your results will depend on your level of experience with the coffee roasting process.

Some folks believe that richer flavored dark roasts have more caffeine. Actually, a bit of caffeine is lost with a dark roast. Your caffeine concentration is highest with a light roast!

Coffee Roasting Milestones: First and Second Crack

First Crack

When you pre-heat the coffee roaster and then add the beans, the temperature falls. The beans are absorbing the heat! As the beans heat up their water also starts to evaporate. The chlorophyll, anthocyanins, and other green plant constituents break down and the bean loses its green tint to become more golden or yellow. At this time the coffee loses its “grass-like” aroma and smells more like toasted bread or even popcorn.

When the interior of the beans reaches the boiling point of water, 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degree Fahrenheit, the remaining water in the coffee beans comes to a boil and creates steam and pressure. As more and more beans come to this point you can hear many of them “pop” all at the same time. This popping is called the “first crack.”

This is when the bean gets larger to as much as twice its original size. You will start to smell aromas that you normally associate with coffee. The bean moisture content is now down to the three to five percent range (from its original ten to twelve percent).

If you want to be really fancy, at this point the coffee has an Agtron value of around 90. This is a way to measure the color of the bean in the near-infrared end of the light spectrum and is used in industry for quality control purposes. (Coffee Review)We really do not think you will want to go this far into the high-tech world in your home coffee roasting!

Second Crack

While the first crack is caused by steam building up in the coffee bean, the second crack comes from the production of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and other gases. These are produced during the chemical breakdown of fats, proteins, and sugars within the coffee bean.

The second crack occurs around 225 to 230 degrees Celsius or 437 to 446 degrees Fahrenheit. Here is where the beans start to become shiny as coffee oils break through to the surface of the coffee bean.

How far you take your coffee beans in this process depends on the level of roast that you want. When you get to the roast level you like, you turn off the heat and transfer the beans to a cooling container or surface. This needs to be done promptly because otherwise the beans will continue to a darker roast than you intended.

(Coffee Chemistry)

Ideally, you want to grind and brew your coffee as soon as possible after roasting. Roasted whole bean coffee retains a reasonable degree of freshness for up to six weeks when properly stored. But, the best and freshest coffee is right after you have roasted it.

Roasting Your Own Coffee at Home

It is equal parts science and performance art when you are roasting coffee. You need to know what you are doing any why. And then, every time you roast a few beans, you need to listen, be aware of the changes in aroma, and move safely and promptly to cool the beans to stop the roast at the appropriate time.

Professional coffee roasters do this for years and many grew up families in the coffee business, like Juan Fernando Hoyos Alzate in Manizales, Colombia.

Coffee roasting requires that the roaster checks the temperature, smells the roasting coffee, and listens for first and second crack.

Roasting Coffee in Manizales, Colombia

A few seconds delay can turn a great batch of gourmet coffee into motel and institutional coffee! Not paying attention to the first and second crack or changes in aroma, as well as the temperature, can absolutely ruin a batch of perfectly good beans.

You are certainly allowed to go right out and buy a home coffee roaster if you like. But, a good way to learn the basics of coffee roasting is to start with the basics and then progress to a more automated approach.

Manual Coffee Roasting: The “Popcorn Popper” Route

In places like Ethiopia and the mountains of Mexico, they traditionally roast the coffee beans in a pan over an open fire, grind them up, and brew coffee all in one sitting. So, when you decide to go the manual coffee roasting route, you are in good company.

Use the same sort of device you would use to pop popcorn. No, not the microwave! You will need to shake or stir the pot or cast iron skillet or use an old popcorn popper with a mechanism for stirring.

Manual coffee roasting really is a bit like popping popcorn. Just don’t use the microwave and don’t add any cooking oil!

Note: You can get some smoke when you roast coffee, especially when aiming for a dark roast. It is a good idea to roast your coffee in a well ventilated area, with open windows, or with an exhaust fan turned on.

The skin or parchment that covers the bean dries and detaches when you roast. Some may fly around when you roast manually and, when you use a home coffee roaster, you need to routinely remove it to prevent fires!

Like popcorn, coffee gets bigger when you roast it and becomes lighter due to water loss.

Manual Coffee Roasting Equipment

  • Kitchen scale
  • Clock, watch or timer
  • Thermometer able to read up to 500 degree Fahrenheit
  • Oven mitts or hot pads
  • Cooling rack
  • Roasting pan or metal colander
  • Paper and pencil to write down the route you took to the perfect roast
  • Airtight container for storing coffee

Manual Coffee Roasting Steps

Measure out the beans

  • Use three to four ounces of green coffee
  • Remember that beans will expand to as much as three times their original volume
  • You will want the coffee beans to be no more than three layers deep while roasting
  • If you are using a popcorn popper with a crank stirrer, eight ounces is good

Keep track of what you are doing

  • Method used
  • Heating method and settings
  • Time to first crack and duration
  • Time to second crack and duration (only for dark roasts)
  • Roasting container temperature of or beans at each step
  • Aromas and color at critical times
  • Time spent cooling the coffee
  • Color and roast level

The Coffee Roasting Process

  • Turn on your stove to medium which is just over 400 degree Fahrenheit.
  • Add the beans once you have achieved roasting temperature
  • Shake or stir the beans with a wooden spoon or crank the popcorn popper
  • Watch the temperature
  • Watch the beans for color changes
  • Listen
  • Note the changes in aroma
  • For most home roasting you will remove after the first crack

When to Remove from Heat

  • The color is right (from experience)
  • The aroma is right (from experience)
  • The sound is right (first crack or second crack)
  • Temperature is right (from experience)
  • Expected time has elapsed (from your notes)

Now, use your oven mitts and pour the roasted coffee into a colander or large pan to cool. Stir occasionally while the beans cool off. Blowing a small fan across the cooling beans will help remove any remaining chaff.

When the beans are down to room temperature, move them to an air-tight container. Ideally use something like a zip lock bag that can expand. Let them rest for at least four hours and for as long as three days. Having said that, you are absolutely allowed to grind a few of your newly roasted coffee beans to brew a cup, or two, or three of coffee!

Roasting coffee the manual way can be fun and even an adventure. But, with time we will get tired of this approach and start looking for a home coffee roaster and a more “automated” and “reproducible” approach to coffee roasting.

(Home Roast Coffee)

Roasting with a Home Coffee Roaster

Using a coffee roaster allows you to more easily control temperature and roasting time. And, most home roasters let you keep track of your favorite roasting profiles so that you do not have to guess each time you roast a new batch.

There are two basic types of coffee roasters, fluid bed and drum.

A drum coffee roaster consists of a rotating chamber that tumbles the green coffee beans as they roast. A fluid bed coffee roaster, also called a hot air roaster, forces very hot air through the roasting chamber. The air will typically enter from the bottom of the chamber and thereby lift and continually mix the beans for an even roast. Or the air can enter from the side of a rotating chamber such as with the Gene Café CBR models.

Coffee roasting with a home roaster takes the coffee through the same roasting steps as when you roast manually. What you are looking for with a home coffee roaster is an easier, more automated process that you can reproduce each time you want to roast a batch of coffee.

The ideal home coffee roaster lets you record several roasting profiles that you can return to time and time again for the various roasts you like the best.
With a home coffee roaster, however, you need to do more maintenance. These devices can even catch on fire if not routinely cleaned properly!

Fluid Bed Coffee Roasters vs Drum Roasters

Any roaster where forced air moves and heats the coffee beans is a fluid bed roaster. Many believe that you reliably get a “brighter” roast with a fluid bed as opposed to a drum roaster.

Drum roasters are more common in large commercial settings or in specialty coffee shops. They consist of a large drum that rotates and mixes the coffee as it roasts. According to Michael Sivetz who invented the fluid bed roasting method, the chaff that separates from the beans and remains in the drum carbonizes and forms potentially carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals. The chaff is blown out of the roasting chamber with a fluid bed system. (This theory is yet to be proven true.)

Which is better for you?

Drum Roasters

The design of a drum roaster is relatively simple and this contributes to the fact that it is the more-economical method of coffee roasting. A rotating cylindrical drum is heated from under the drum or in the center via a pipe or conduit. The heat source can be electrical or natural gas. The advanced models in use today have “profile controllers” that set temperature and timing for any given roasting profile.

This roaster heats partially by conduction of heat from the wall of the drum directly to the coffee beans (about 25%). But most of the heating is via convection of hot air and beans mixing and creating air movement within the drum (75%). A typical drum roaster measures two temperatures, the flame or electric heating element temperature and the temperature (using a thermocouple) within the roasting chamber. Here is a basic drum roaster diagram courtesy of Coffee Chemistry.

Coffee roasting with a drum coffee roaster is cost efficient and can produce large batches

Drum Coffee Roaster Diagram: credit, Probat

Drum roasters are typically very reliable and can produce vast amounts of roasted coffee in commercial settings.

Problems with drum roasters happen with extreme temperatures and uneven distribution of heat within the drum. Scorching of part of the coffee batch can be a problem. In unusual circumstances, an uneven distribution of the beans can cause tipping as well. Obviously, this could be a dangerous issue with an extremely hot machine in your home. Setting the drum to rotate too rapidly and excessively high heat settings are risky as the centrifugal force may push the beans against one side of the drum and scorch them and make the roaster unstable.

Commercial drum roasters can roast as much as 5,000 pounds in each batch. A unit designed for home coffee roasting often roasts 200 to 500 grams (up to a pound) of beans.

Fluid Bed Coffee Roasters

This type of coffee roaster has been around since the 1970s. This is a tall cylinder in which the coffee beans are heated by forced hot air entering from the bottom. The coffee beans are lifted and mixed by the constant stream of hot air allowing for a uniform distribution of heat. All of the heating in this system is from convection. People who have used both methods often prefer the roast characteristics of this method.

Nice features of a fluid bed roaster are ease of cleaning, reduced roast time (about half), and better uniformity of the roast. Although supporters of this coffee roasting method say it makes a better cup of coffee, blind comparisons (where both methods are tested side by side) fails to confirm this opinion.

(Coffee Chemistry)

Here is a diagram of a fluid bed roaster courtesy of Mt. Hood Roasters.

Coffee roasting with a fluid bed roaster often results in a "brighter" roast

Diagram of a Fluid Bed Coffee Roaster

Both roasters need to be cleaned routinely. If you do not clean out the drum, the residual chaff and coffee oils give the next batch a bitter taste. If you do not clean out the chaff collector (chaff “can” in the diagram) you will get smoke and even fires. It is not a mistake that when you read the fine print that comes with your new coffee roaster, it says to keep a fire extinguisher handy!

When learning the art and science of coffee roasting, it is not a bad thing to start by roasting a few beans in a cast iron skillet or old popcorn popper. Many find that they can better appreciate the coffee roasting process without having too much technology in the way.

Whether you decide to go with a drum roaster or the fluid bed design, read the directions carefully and make sure you are setting up correctly. These devices by their very nature generate a lot of heat. Even with a push button highly computerized roaster, keep oven mitts handy and be careful, both when loading green beans into a pre-heated roasting chamber and when removing the roasted coffee beans.

The biggest advantage of home coffee roasting with a real coffee roaster instead of the trusty popcorn popper lies in the programming. With most modern home roasters you can try out various roasting profiles and even record them for future use. Your home coffee roaster will let you learn the results of changing the temperature, timing, and even fan levels. And when you get the roast that you like, you can reliably achieve that roast again and again.

(Coffee Chemistry)

Good Coffee Roasting Deserves Good Coffee

But, don’t forget that it all starts with the coffee. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars, or thousands of dollars, on a home coffee roaster only to roast old, stale Robusta coffee beans. The best gourmet coffees brands are almost all Arabica coffees from countries all around the world. Take a little time to learn about great coffee since you are now going to the trouble, and expense, of roasting your own at home.

While it is easy to walk into any grocery store and buy roasted coffee, either whole bean or ground, you will rarely find any green coffee beans. You can find green coffee beans online, but very often the price is rather high. A local coffee roaster has green coffee beans and may be a reliable source for you. Luckily, green coffee beans retain their freshness for a lot longer than roasted coffee beans, providing that you store them in a cool and dry place. This gives you the option of buying green coffee in larger amounts and usually for a better price per pound.

If you have questions about where and how to get green coffee beans suitable for home roasting, feel free to contact us at by leaving a comment on our site or sending an email to or We can help you find suppliers in the USA and can even help you get Arabica coffee beans shipped directly from Colombia from the heart of the coffee growing “triangle.” Whenever you have a question about coffee, coffee making, or coffee roasting, let us know and we will be pleased to help.

Where Can I Buy Fresh Coffee from Colombia?

Colombia produces large quantities of the best Arabica coffee in the world. Coffee is best when fresh. So, your question should be, where can I buy fresh coffee from Colombia? We would like to present a little background to help you with finding the greatest coffee at reasonable prices. The bottom line is that you should buy Arabica coffee directly from Colombia but why is that? First, a little bit about Colombian coffee beans.

Colombian Coffee Beans

Colombian coffee history started in the 18th century when coffee was reported to be grown near the Meta and Orinoco Rivers. Commercial production was first reported in the early 19th century. But, it was the arrival of coffee growers in the Manizales region that started the development of a coffee-growing center that today produces the most high-quality Arabica coffee in the world. Although there are lots of great coffees in the world, nobody produces the amounts of Arabica coffee that Colombia does along the Andes massif. Rich volcanic soil, lots of rain, excellent drainage (mountain sides), and a coffee-growing culture that goes back nearly two centuries come together to produce the largest amounts of high-quality Arabica coffee in the world. Colombian coffee beans make great coffee and the fresher they are, the better they are.

Coffee Direct from Colombia

Coffee making can be simple or complicated. The best end result depends upon having the best quality coffee (Coffee from Colombia) and the freshest beans (shipped directly from Colombia to you). Green coffee beans retain their freshness for a couple of years when properly stored (cool and dry). Roasted coffee beans retain their freshness for up to six months with the right storage conditions. Ground coffee starts to lose its freshness as soon as air gets in contact with the grounds.

The problem with large commercial quantities of Colombian coffee is that they sit in storage until they are distributed, sold to the consumer, and made into coffee. If you value freshness, you want coffee direct from Colombia. This means that you need to buy from small local roasters (trilladoras) around Manizales, in towns like Chinchina, or around Saladoblanco in the Department of Huila. Or you need to speak Spanish and deal with growers like the Finca La Paula in Huila. Alternatively, you can contact us at Buy Organic Coffee by leaving a comment on our site or sending an email to

How to Import Coffee from Colombia

If you are visiting Colombia, you can purchase a few bags of local coffee at supermarket chains like Exito, la 14, or La Carulla and carry them back home in your luggage. Don’t be surprised if the military at the airport in Manizales, Medellin, Cali, Pereira, or Bogota pin prick your coffee bags and check them with a mechanical drug sniffer or pass them in front of a drug-sniffing dog who you really hope will not sit down (because he recognizes the smell of drugs). Buy your coffee in a store and don’t accept “presents” of coffee to take to someone back home.

Store-bought Coffee from Colombia Sent to You

If you would like to simply try a few bags of local “store” coffee from Manizales, we can ship to you by normal mail (takes up to four weeks). We can send up to 2 kg of coffee (four one pound bags) without going through the fuss of export procedures. Easily available local “store” coffees include Oma, La Loma, and Café Quindio.

  • Sending 2 kg of coffee from Manizales to anywhere in the USA: $30
  • Cost of a mix of 4 local coffees: $30
  • Cost of sending: included
Coffee Direct from Colombia
This is our current 4-pack of Colombian store-bought coffees.

Coffee from Colombian Processors and Coffee Farms

If you would like fresh Colombian coffee shipped directly from a local processor or coffee farm, please contact us by leaving a comment on our site or sending an email to

We deal directly with these people and can arrange exportation of quantities for personal use as well as shipping containers full of green coffee from Colombia.

Fresh Coffee from Colombia Nevado del Ruiz
The Still-active volcano, Nevado del Ruiz
overlooking Manizales, Colombia

Where Can I Buy Fresh Coffee from Colombia? – Slideshare Version


Eggnog Coffee Cake for the New Year

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us and it is time to think of what to serve your guests. We ran into a great idea from The West Australian in their Life & Style section, a recipe for eggnog coffee cake! Eggnog is a classic for the holiday season and it gives a great flavor to coffee cake. They suggest that you “Have a slice of the cake, and it will remind you of sipping the rich, delicious and high-calorie holiday drink.”

Their eggnog coffee cake recipe is pretty basic and they use store-bought eggnog. They simply add two cups of eggnog to their coffee recipe. We think that you can do better with the coffee cake and especially with the eggnog. For ideas about basic and fancy eggnog recipes take a look at our article on how to make homemade eggnog. Regarding coffee cake, there is a lot more to be said.

Coffee Cake

In case you are interested, April 7 is National Coffee Cake Day. And, according to Stuart Flexner, in Listening to America the term coffee cake came into being around 1879. But the origins of coffee cake go way back to Northern Europe (Germany and Denmark) and the 17th century when it was the custom to eat yeasty sweet bread while drinking coffee.


In Northern Europe, coffee cake evolved from traditional sweetbreads and became known as gugelhupf or kuchen. This cake and the tradition spread throughout Europe, across the English Channel to Great Britain, and across the Atlantic to the Americas.

With each migration, the cooks of the new country added their own touches. For example, British coffee cake is a sponge cake while American coffee cake is a sweet cake flavored with fruit or cinnamon and often containing sour cream. Other variations on the coffee cake theme include applesauce cake, Hungarian arany galuska which contains walnuts and cinnamon, stollen which is German Christmas cake, and Tortuga Rum Cake. (Wikipedia)(

Thus eggnog coffee cake for the New Year, or anytime, joins a great tradition of coffee cakes.

A great idea is eggnog coffee cake for the New Year

Eggnog Coffee Cake


Eggnog was in the Americas in the 18th century. Isaac Weld wrote that

“The American travelers, before they pursued their journey, took a hearty draught each, according to custom, of egg-nog, a mixture composed of new milk, eggs, rum, and sugar, beat up together”

As we note in our article about how to make homemade eggnog, America’s first president, George Washington wrote down his own eggnog recipe, full of spirits, for posterity.

Learn how to make homemade eggnog for Christmas and then make eggnog coffee cake for the New Year!

Homemade Eggnog

Making Eggnog Coffee Cake (Eggnog as the Glaze)

To make this recipe, start by making the eggnog. You can follow our basic recipe in How to Make Homemade Eggnog or use your own recipe. You can even add coffee for your eggnog coffee cake for the New Year!

Once your eggnog is ready and in the refrigerator and before you drink all of it, put aside enough to make your eggnog coffee cake for the New Year (see the recipes). A good, basic coffee cake to start with is a standard cinnamon coffee cake to which you add an eggnog glaze.


  • Cooking spray
  • For the cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • For the topping and glaze:
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons eggnog

Making the Cake

  • Coat a 9 inch spring form pan with cooking spray and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  • In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt
  • In a separate large bowl beat the granulated sugar and butter with a mixer at medium to high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy which will take about 3 minutes
  • Then add the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat again until well mixed
  • Now reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture gradually (three batches)
  • Add sour cream in between the batches of flour and increase mixer speed to high until thoroughly mixed
  • Transfer the batter to the spring form pan and set aside.

Making the Topping and Baking the Cake

  • To a medium bowl add flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Then work in the butter with your fingers until the mixture is clumpy
  • Scatter this topping over the cake
  • Put in the oven and bake for an hour to hour and ten minutes. Check towards the end and when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean the cake is done
  • Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack to cool for twenty minutes
  • After twenty minutes, remove the spring form ring to allow the cake to cool completely.

Making the Glaze

Add eggnog and confectioners’ sugar to a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add an extra tablespoonful of eggnog if the glaze is too thick. Drizzle the eggnog glaze over the coffee cake just before serving.

(Food Network)

Making Eggnog Coffee Cake (Eggnog in the Cake)

  • For the cake
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup eggnog
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • For the topping
  • 1 1⁄4 cups pecans, broken
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Making the Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  • Using a 9 inch fluted or plain tube pan, coat the inside with butter
  • Add cream, butter, and sugar to a large bowl and mix until it is fluffy and light
  • Continue beating and add eggs, eggnog, and vanilla
  • Then stir in flour, baking powder, and salt
  • Now beat into has a butter texture

Making the Topping

  • In a small or medium bowl mix sugar, cinnamon, and nuts
  • Scatter half of the topping over bottom of pan
  • Using a spoon add half of the batter
  • Scatter the rest of the topping evenly over the batter and add the rest of the batter


  • Bake for 50 to 60 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in center will come out clean)
  • Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

(Genius Kitchen)

Jazz Up Your Eggnog Coffee Cake for the New Year

Although there are lots of coffee cake recipes, perhaps the best way to vary your eggnog coffee cake for the New Year is to jazz up the eggnog. Going back to George Washington, people were putting rum and lots of other spirits in their eggnog. Perhaps, the end result of adding rum to your eggnog would be an eggnog rum cake for the holidays!

Eggnog Coffee Cake for the New Year – Slideshare Version

Eggnog Coffee Cake for the New Year – PDF

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee?

The Bourbon coffee variety dates back to the 1700s when French missionaries first introduced it on Bourbon Island in the Indian Ocean.  The island is called Réunion today and the missionaries moved on to Latin America in the middle of the 1800s. It was first grown in Brazil around 1860 and cultivation spread from there throughout Latin America. Because the standard Bourbon variety is susceptible to coffee leaf rust, it does best at higher altitudes at or above 1,800 meters where leaf rust is less likely to occur. Bourbon produces a tall coffee plant, excellent coffee, and medium to low production. It much of Latin America, basic Bourbon has been replaced by offshoots such as Caturra, Catuai, and Mundo Novo. But, around Huila, Colombia in the Andes Mountains, growers still specialize in growing Bourbon coffee and a cross-bred variety, pink Bourbon.

Pink Bourbon Finca La Paula
Pink Bourbon Coffee – Finca La Paula

Pink Bourbon Coffee from Huila, Colombia

Pink Bourbon gets its name from the fact that the ripe berries are pink instead of red. Coffee farmers around Huila, Colombia produce the variety by cross-breeding yellow and red Bourbon. It has greater resistance to leaf rust than either the yellow or red variety. Pink bourbon has spicy-jasmine notes and a hint of caramel. This is an excellent, artisanal coffee that can be purchased from retailers in the USA. The problem is that you are commonly buying beans from the previous year’s harvest. However, if you buy Arabica coffee directly from Colombia via Buy Organic Coffee, you can get fresh pink Bourbon from Huila, Colombia, either green beans or freshly roasted and shipped directly to you.

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee - Nevado del Huila
Nevado del Huila – Tallest Volcano in Colombia

Where Is Huila, Colombia?

Huila is a department in the country of Colombia. Its capital is Neiva and the department lies southeast of the city of Cali. The volcano, Nevado de Huila, is the tallest volcano in Colombia at 17, 598 feet (5,364 meters) and the entire department sits on the Colombian massif. The department holds the headwaters of the Magdalena River, the largest in Colombia. With rich, volcanic soil, high elevations, lots of rain, and a culture of coffee growing, Huila produces some of the finest coffee within the Colombian coffee growing axis. The fact that local growers have found to a way to grow an old variety (Bourbon) and increase its leaf rust resistance is a big plus. Even better, pink Bourbon is such an excellent coffee. The key for enjoying this great coffee if you live outside of Colombia is to contact us at Buy Organic Coffee. You can leave a message in our comment section or send an email to Be certain to let us know if you want small quantities for personal use or commercial quantities, green coffee versus roasted and whole bean versus ground. (We strongly advise against asking for ground coffee as you will be losing most of the “freshness advantage” of shipping directly from Colombia.

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee? – Slideshare Version

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee? – Doc

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee? – PDF

Organic Coffee from Caldas, Colombia

We have written frequently about Colombian Arabica organic coffee and particularly about coffee from the area around Manizales, Colombia. Manizales is the capital of the department (state) of Caldas. Old Caldas (Viejo Caldas) is the historic heart of the Colombian coffee growing district in the highlands of the Andean Mountains. This region has been a coffee-producing Mecca for nearly two hundred years as we noted in our article about Colombian coffee history. While other coffee-growing regions of the world have chosen to use coffee varieties that are sun tolerant or use mechanical coffee picking, the growers or regular Arabica and organic coffee from Caldas, Colombia have not. Coffee varieties are chosen for quality and not convenience in Caldas and picking on the mountainsides is always by hand.

Artisanal Coffee from Caldas, Colombia

The focus of coffee production in the historic heart of coffee growing in Colombia has always been to produce the best Arabica coffee rather than producing the most. Families in Caldas have been growing coffee for generations and take pride in the quality of their production. Much of the coffee grown in this region is organic in fact if not in name. That is because these coffee farmers have always used sustainable practices even though they do not pay an agency like Bio Latina to certify their crops. Although much of coffee production in Caldas, Colombia goes directly for general consumption, the vast majority is artisanal in quality. That is, the coffee is single original, harvested at specific altitudes (mostly very high), and grown in a specific kind of soil (volcanic).

Organic Coffee from Caldas, Colombia

Organic coffee from Colombia can be difficult to find. This is because many organic growers have long-term contracts with buyers in Japan, Europe, or the USA. All of their production is spoken for. Other growers are organic in fact but not certified and not known to be organic outside of their specific communities. However, if you are interested in organic coffee from Caldas, Colombia, we at have contacts through the Colombian coffee growing region and specifically around Manizales in the department of Caldas. If you are interested in artisanal organic coffee from Colombia and especially from the Caldas region, please feel free to leave us a message in the comments section on our site and we will get back to you.

Caldas, Colombia

The Caldas department of Colombia has elevations of 7,000 feet and above. It is in the high elevations where Arabica coffee grows best and where many of the old Caldas coffee-growing families have their coffee farms. The soil is volcanic and the growing areas are punctuated with tall mountains that reach above the tree line such as Nevada del Ruiz, the 15,000 foot still-active volcano.

Organic Coffee from Caldas, Colombia - Nevado del Ruiz
Nevado del Ruiz

This view of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano is from Avenida Santander in the city of Manizales, the capital of the department of Caldas and the home of the Colombian Coffee Growers Association.

Here is where coffee grows from the lowlands (three to five thousand feet) to the highlands (over 8,000 feet) and the focus on coffee growing is and has always been to produce the highest quality organic coffee from Caldas, Colombia.

Coffee Recipes

As a coffee lover, you may enjoy your morning cup black, or with sugar and cream. Then again, you may drop by the coffee house on the way to work and partake of something a little more exotic. Basic coffee house coffee starts with espresso and the standards are espresso, Americano, Breve, Cappuccino, Latte, and Mocha. But, today it does not stop with these basics. You can get an iced pumpkin spice latte or a caramel macchiato as well. Maybe you would like to make Irish coffee with a little Irish whiskey! With the right coffee recipes you can make these and more right at home!

Coffee Recipes

  • Coffee recipes starting with espresso
  • Coffee recipes starting with brewed coffee
  • Coffee recipes that include alcohol
  • Recipes for Iced coffee drinks
  • Cold Brewed Coffee Recipes
  • Chicory Coffee

Coffee Recipes Starting with Espresso

The Bronx Bomber

Coffee Recipes - Bronx Bombers
Bronx Bombers of an Other Era

No, we are not talking about the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Roger Maris, or Joe DiMaggio! A Bronx bomber is coffee, gin, absinthe, and ice.

  • Make a double shot of espresso
  • Fill your cocktail shaker with cracked ice
  • Add an ounce and a half of gin and an eighth of an ounce of absinthe.
  • Add the espresso
  • Shake for a minute then then pour through a strainer.
  • The process may be repeated as often as desired.
Bronx Bomber
Bronx Bomber

Home Made Pumpkin Spice Latte

So, you have become addicted to pumpkin spice latte at the coffee shop. Can you make this at home?

To do this right you need to use your new espresso maker.

  • 2 cups milk (non-dairy or dairy)
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (cook a small pumpkin and puree)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • One-half teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, Allspice, cloves)
  • One-half cup of espresso
  • Whipping cream

Coffee Recipes That Include Alcohol

Irish Coffee

Irish coffee started when a flight from Ireland to New York had to return to Ireland because of inclement weather. The airport chef greeted the returning travelers with a hot drink of coffee, whiskey, brown sugar, and whipped cream. This drink became very popular. When people asked what kind of coffee it was, the staff said that it was Irish coffee (as opposed to Brazilian, Colombian, Ethiopian, or Indonesian). An American traveler brought the recipe back to America and it caught on. Here is our recipe for Irish coffee.

Use Arabica coffee for the best flavor and aroma, Irish whiskey, whipping cream, and brown sugar.

Preheat the glass with hot water or a little coffee and then discard the liquid. Then add the coffee followed by the other, cooler, ingredients. This technique ensures that your Irish coffee is hot as well as tasty.

You will need:

  • Coffee mug (glass is traditional for this drink)
  • Tablespoon
  • 4 ounces of freshly ground and brewed Arabica coffee
  • 1 ounce whiskey, preferably Irish
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 ounce whipped cream (lightly whipped)
  • Nutmeg and/or cinnamon (optional)


  • Grind the coffee beans
  • Make the whipped cream
  • Brew the coffee
  • Pre-heat the mug(s)
  • Add brown sugar to mug
  • Add hot coffee and stir
  • Add whiskey and stir again
  • Pour the lightly whipped cream (over the back of a tablespoon) to sit on the top of the coffee
  • Sprinkle nutmeg and/or cinnamon on top of the whipped cream and serve
Coffee Recipes - Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee

This is a great drink for a snowy winter evening, especially after outdoor activities.

Hints: When you brew your coffee, have a little hot water left over for pre-heating the mug(s) and you want the lightly whipped cream to cover the Irish coffee and not float like a white ice cube on top of the drink.

A little cinnamon and or nutmeg sprinkled on top of the whipped cream are an American addition to this treat and are optional.

Rüdesheimer Kaffee

A nice Germanic alternative to Irish coffee is Rüdesheimer Kaffee. This drink was invented by television chef Hans Karl Adam in 1957 and named for the German city of Rüdesheim. It became an instant hit in German coffee houses.

What you need:

  • Your choice of Arabica coffees
  • Asbach Uralt brandy (any brandy will do in a pinch)
  • Vanilla Sugar (sugar mixed with vanilla extract)
  • Whipping cream
  • Chocolate flakes (semi-sweet chocolate)
  • Barbecue lighter or long matches
Coffee Recipes - Asbach Brandy
Asbach Brandy

Notes: Ideally this drink is made with espresso but a good strong Arabica brew will do just fine. And, you will not find vanilla sugar outside of Germany and Eastern Europe. Simply add a few vanilla beans to a cup of sugar and blend in a food processor. (Baking Moment)

A purist will use Asbach Uralt brandy and serve the drink in special Rüdesheimer Kaffee cups. (Weinquelle)

Rüdesheimer Kaffee is put together at the table so all of the ingredients and tools need to be ready at the same time.


  • Grind the coffee beans
  • Make your whipped cream using a dash of vanilla sugar
  • Trim off flakes from a semisweet bar of chocolate
  • Have these ready as you brew your coffee
  • Add a jigger (large shot glass or one and a fourth ounces of Asbach Uralt brandy and sugar cubes to a coffee cup
  • Flambé (set on fire) using a long match or barbecue lighter and stir for a minute to dissolve the sugar
  • Add the coffee your strong coffee or espresso
  • Spread the whipped cream across the top and then garnish with the chocolate flakes
Coffee Recipes - Rüdesheimer Kaffee Cup
Rüdesheimer Kaffee Cup

Serve your guests and accept their complements.

Another Note: Because of the steps involved and what is basically performance art in serving this drink, it is best to try it out by yourself and get the steps right before doing this in front of your guests. And, if you need to use up a little of the German brandy while you practice, so be it!

Recipes for Iced Coffee Drinks

Black Tie Coffee

In Thailand this is a traditional drink. Black tie coffee ingredients include black tea, espresso, star anise, orange blossom water, sugar, cloves, and cream or condensed milk, plus the coffee. It is served over ice.

Notes: You can buy a black tea mix including the other ingredients (minus the coffee) to make the tea. Or you can buy black tea and the individual ingredients for a fresher result.

For this drink you really want to make espresso and not just strong coffee.

Orange blossom water is also called “Essential Oil of Neroli.” It comes from distilling blossoms of the “bitter orange tree.” (Nielsen Massey)

Make the Thai tea first:

  • 5 cups of water
  • 6 bags of either black tea or Thai red tea, or 1 1/2 tablespoons loose tea
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Ice, a fourth of a cup
  • Sweetened condensed milk

Making the tea:

  • In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil
  • Take the pan away from the heat and add tea bags, cloves, and star anise. Allow to steep for ten minutes
  • Using a strainer or large spoon, remove the tea, cloves, and star anise from the steeped tea
  • Add sugar and stir until dissolved
  • Put aside to allow the tea to cool to room temperature

Note: If you are just going to drink the tea, fill tall glasses with ice cubes, add tea to three-fourths full, and top off with sweetened condensed milk.
(The Kitchn)

Making Black Tie Coffee

  • Espresso coffee beans finely ground
  • Thai tea
  • Sweetened condensed milk or cream


  • Make a double shot of espresso for each tall glass of Black Tie coffee
  • Fill tall glasses with ice
  • Fill two-thirds full with tea
  • Add double shot of espresso
  • Top off with a layer of cream or sweetened condensed milk
  • Serve
Coffee Recipes - Black Tie Coffee
Thai Tea for Making Black Tie Coffee

Iced Mint Mocha

Mocha is coffee and chocolate. Cool this mixture, add ice, and blend with mint to make iced mint mocha for a hot summer day.

What you need to make two iced mint mochas:

  • Chocolate syrup, 2 tablespoonsful
  • Mint leaves, 10
  • Arabica coffee to make 8 ounces
  • Two scoops of crushed ice
  • Whipping cream

How to make them:

  • Make the coffee and let it cool to room temperature
  • While the coffee is cooling, whip the cream but not too much
  • Add coffee, chocolate, mint, and ice to the blender.
  • Start blending at the slowest speed and after half a minute increase to medium
  • Keep blending until the ice is all broken up
  • Pour into tall glasses
  • Top off with whipped cream and a dash of chocolate syrup
Coffee Recipes - Iced Mint Mocha
Iced Mint Mocha

(Blender Happy)

Cold Brewed Coffee Recipes

Cold Brewed Coffee and More

Cold brewed coffee is another great choice for a hot summer day, or for any time. Cold brewed coffee is steeped (like tea) at room temperature or in cold water for at least twelve hours. The resulting coffee is two-thirds less acidic than espresso or other hot-brewed coffees. This is because of the slow extraction absent a lot of heat. The caffeine content is higher and the flavor is smoother.

Making Cold Brewed Coffee

  • Good cold brewed coffee starts with good coffee. Use a lighter roast of a high quality Arabica and grind the beans to a coarse consistency.
  • If you use tap water, let it sit in an open container for a few hours to let the chlorine evaporate. Bottled water is a better choice but do not use distilled water.
  • Using a two quart pitcher, add one and three-fourths cups of ground coffee. Cover, place in the refrigerator, and forget for the next twelve hours.
  • The grounds will have settled to the bottom of the pitcher, but it does not hurt to pour through a strainer or cloth filter to remove any strays.

Note: Your coldbrewed coffee will often be stronger than you prefer. If that is the case you can add a little water, milk, or cream. Also, some folks like to add sugar, chocolate, or a little liquor, making this a cold brewed liqueur coffee.

Chicory Coffee

Chicory coffee is historically what people drink when there is no coffee. When the chicory root is roasted and ground up, it has a flavor similar to coffee. You can make chicory coffee part chicory and part coffee or just skip the coffee entirely. When you can commonly find this coffee is in New Orleans where they serve it with deep fried squares of bread dough dusted with powdered sugar (beignets).

  • You can grow chicory in your garden or buy from a well-stocked green grocer.
  • If you would like to try chicory coffee, here is how.
  • The chicory root should be fresh and clean. Slice and dice into small pieces and dry in the oven at low temperature or out in the sun. For a “dark roast” of chicory, roast for half an hour in the oven at 350 degrees.
  • You will want to grind the chicory “chips” a couple of times as they are full of fiber and do not grind as readily as your coffee beans.
  • For starters, use half coffee and half chicory and then adjust the ration according to your preference.
  • Brew this mixture and you will have a coffee with a malt-like aroma and flavor plus a hint of chocolate. It will be a bit more acidic than the coffee by itself.

If you want to do this right, try to find or make some beignets to snack on as your enjoy this drink.

Buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia

When we wrote recently about Colombian Arabica organic coffee we received several requests for information and pricing from folks who wanted to buy Arabica coffee directly from Colombia.

If you want good coffee, drink Arabica. If you want great coffee, look for Arabica coffee from Colombia. And if you want the best, look for Colombian Arabica organic coffee. If you want this great coffee shipped directly to you, contact us at Buy Organic Coffee.

The folks who contacted us after the article ranged from people who were simply interested in Colombian coffee to roasters across the globe who were interested in prices and the specifics of getting bulk wholesale green coffee beans shipped from Colombia. With our readers’ and clients’ questions in mind here is some useful information about our business connecting Colombian Arabica coffee growers to coffee lovers everywhere.


Buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia

Arabica Coffee from Colombia


Yes you can buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia

Colombia ranks only behind Brazil in volume of Arabica coffee production. And Colombia only produces Arabica coffee varieties, no Robusta coffee beans. Much of Robusta production goes to provide caffeine for soft drinks. Colombian Arabica coffee beans go to make the best coffees in the world. The Colombia “Eje Cafetero” or coffee growing axis is also known as el “triangulo de café” or the coffee triangle. It is located west of the Colombian capital city of Bogotá and centered in the departments (states) of Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda. Parts of this region were involved in the decades-long Colombian Civil War and now as peace comes to the coffee producing regions are coming back into production. This is a mountainous region (Andes) with rich volcanic soil, lots of rain, and clouds which are conditions ideal for growing great coffee.


Buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia

Map of Colombia


Is Your Colombian Coffee from the Store Fresh?

Years ago the Colombian Coffee Growers Association trademarked the Juan Valdez name and logo. When you see Juan and his burro on the label that means you are getting 100% Colombian coffee. Colombian coffee is always good coffee but Colombian coffee can get old just like any coffee. We just wrote an article about how long fresh roasted coffee beans last. In the article we noted that green coffee beans store longer than whole bean roasted coffee and whole bean roasted stores longer than ground coffee. And we noted that an issue is just how old the green coffee was when it got roasted. Coffee has a supply chain and it can be long. In Brazil, for example, due to an expensive local currency, coffee farmers put their green beans into storage for years and only sold them when the price, in the local currency, went up. Unfortunately, this green coffee was poor quality despite going into storage as high quality. If you want to be guaranteed fresh green coffee from Colombia it might just be best to buy Arabica coffee directly from Colombia.

Buy Colombian Coffee Directly from Colombia

Besides loving coffee and incessantly writing about coffee, we have come to know folks in the coffee industry in Colombia. Our focus has not been on the huge companies that dominate much of the industry but on small family operations that have been growing, processing, and roasting great Colombian Arabica coffee for generations. We mentioned one such operation in our article about coffee from Manizales, Colombia. Roasting is an art and coffee is their life in this part of the world.


Buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia

Roasting Coffee


It used to be that the easiest way to get your fresh Arabica coffee from Colombia was to visit Manizales and bring back a suitcase filled with bags of coffee. Of course, one had to pass inspection by the soldiers checking luggage and their drug sniffing dog! But, a couple of years ago Colombia streamlined its export procedures for coffee which has made it easier for mere humans, instead of multinationals, to export coffee from Colombia.

Thus we are pleased to help our clients with getting freshly roasted Colombian Arabica coffee in smaller quantities delivered by air freight within days of roasting.

And, we are pleased to help clients buy commercial quantities of Arabica green coffee beans, ones that are fresh and not ones that have been in storage for years like the story about Brazil.

We have been asked for a price list. We do not maintain a price list. We do not have a warehouse full of coffee that we purchased last year and are trying to sell. When a client wants high quality Arabica coffee from Colombia we contact one of our suppliers, like the family operation in Manizales, and get the best price for the best coffee. The base price for coffee is set by the futures market in New York and if you are in the agricultural office in a village like Chinchiná, Colombia there will be a video monitor on the wall showing the up-to-the-minute New York price. That price is the base price from which all prices are calculated. The price for Colombian coffee goes up with the size of the bean. Arabica coffee grown at high altitudes ripens more slowly and grows larger. This is typically a finer coffee.

Colombian Coffee Grades

Green coffee is run through a series of screens with openings starting at size 17 = 17/64 inch. Larger beans are typically better and the largest are from Arabica grown more slowly at higher altitudes which are typically the best quality.

And coffee roasters need uniform bean size when roasting a batch, otherwise the small beans are over-done and the batch is bad.

The largest bean size in Colombian coffee is Supremo = size 17 followed by Excelso = size 15-16, USG (usual good quality) = size 14 and Caracol = size 12.


Buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia

Coffee Screens


Organic, Coffee of Origin, Standard Colombian Arabica Coffee

There is a lot of Colombian Arabica coffee and it is relatively easy to find a decent price for our clients. Organic coffee is grown in smaller quantities and much of the organic production is already spoken for as buyers have agreements in place to take all of a farm’s production. We can still find organic coffee for you but quantities will vary and the price is higher. If you want to find an organic producer and set up your own supply chain we will be happy to help. Coffee of origin is a popular choice as the various parts of the coffee growing district will produce coffees with differing tastes, much like with wine. And, like with organic coffee, quantities will vary and the price is higher.

Getting the Coffee from Colombia to You

We are pleased to help coffee gourmets who want smaller quantities or green beans to roast or freshly roasted Colombian Arabica coffee. Our supplier will simply arrange to send to you via air freight. This service is typically for gourmet coffee lovers for whom price is little object. The coffee is still reasonably priced but the cost of shipping is typically as much or more than the cost of the coffee!

Coffee roasters from anywhere in the world can go through us to buy Arabica coffee directly from Colombia. Contact us and let us know what quantity of green coffee beans you want.

Our usual arrangement is FOB shipping. This term means “free on board” and means that we and our supplier are responsible for getting the shipment to the port for shipping. And then your shipper will take over to store the coffee, load it on the boat, handle export/import and deliver to you in the end.

FOB Delivery to Colombia Ports

Colombia has two main ports, Cartagena on the Caribbean Sea (Atlantic Ocean) and Buenaventura on the Pacific Coast. To avoid the extra price of shipping through the Panama Canal it is best to pick Buenaventura for shipments to the west coast of the America, Australia, and Asia. Shipments to the US gulf coast and East coast as well as Europe should ship via Cartagena.

If you wish to have us handle shipping from Colombia our suppliers can do that but at an extra cost. Your best bet is to use your own shipper who speaks your own language as well.

If you have questions about how to buy Arabica coffee directly from Colombia please feel free to contact us at your convenience. We can typically provide you with a price quote in a day or two. Of course the price of coffee goes up and down, so all quotes are time limited.

A Land of Volcanoes That Produces Arabica Coffee

Colombia has an ideal climate for growing coffee. Coffee needs lots of water but the water should run off. Thus coffee in Colombia grows on hillsides and mountainsides and even on the slopes of volcanoes like Nevado Ruiz which looms over the city of Manizales.


Buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia

Nevado Ruiz Volcano Overlooking Manizales

Buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia PPT


Coffee and Health

Coffee is good for you. Every year more and more health benefits of drinking coffee are discovered. But, this view of coffee, based on scientific research, has only recently emerged. Many of us can recall being told by the doctor to cut back on our coffee consumption for various reasons. Humans have been drinking coffee for hundreds of years. And, there have always been concerns about whether coffee is good or bad for us to drink. In fact, as far back as the 1600’s when coffee became popular in Venice, Italy, the local clergy called it the “bitter invention of Satan.” Only the intervention of Pope Clement VIII saved coffee from being banned! (National Coffee Association) Here are some thoughts about coffee and health, why it is good for you, and also when you should cut back on your consumption of Java.

How Coffee Is Good for Your Health

Effects of Coffee on the Heart

Coffee and Health
Coffee Is Good for Your Health

If you drink a lot of coffee, your heart may speed up. And, some people complain of an irregular heart beat after drinking strong coffee. So is coffee bad for your heart? People who drink more than four cups of coffee a day are more likely to experience a fast or irregular heartbeat. (Mayo Clinic) So, if your heart skips or speeds up with lots of strong coffee, cut back a bit. But, the evidence shows that drinking coffee does not damage your heart but is good for it. Coffee drinkers do not have a higher incidence of dangerous heart rhythm problems than those who do not drink coffee. And, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of calcium deposits in and clogging of their coronary arteries!

Mental Health: Coffee Reduces the Incidence of Both Depression and Suicide

We know that coffee is a pick-me-up but there is more to the picture. We have known for several years that drinking coffee reduces the risk of depression. Researchers found that women who drank at least four cups of coffee a day had a lower incidence of depression than women who drank of a cup of coffee a day, or less. The risk reduction was twenty percent and the study included 50,000 women. It appears that the reduction of risk improves with more coffee each day. And, the benefit appears to come from caffeine as decaf drinkers showed no improvement.
(Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011, V. 171)

A slightly more recent study (2013) showed that drinking coffee reduces the risk of suicide. This is a big league scientific study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Over twenty years they followed more than 130,000 men and women, keeping track of coffee consumption and consumption of caffeine in general. The bottom line was that drinking two to four cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of suicide by half! There was a slightly better result with four cups a day than with two. The researchers believed that besides acting as a stimulant, the caffeine in coffee acted as an antidepressant as well.
(The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry)

Drinking Coffee Significantly Reduces the Risk of Type II Diabetes

It has been known for several years that coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of developing type II diabetes. The risk reduction is about seven percent for every cup of coffee consumed per day. As such, drinking six cups of coffee a day reduces your risk of getting type II diabetes by 42%. This happens with decaf coffee as well as caffeinated coffee. The effect is believed to come from the antioxidants in coffee. This is a huge deal!
(JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association)

coffee and health - diabetes
Coffee Reduces Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

In 1980 there were 108 million people worldwide with diabetes and ninety-five percent had type II diabetes. By 2014 there were 422 million people with the disease and the proportion of type II was the same. This disease is a primary cause of heart attacks, kidney failure, blindness, limb amputation, and stokes. And, drinking coffee reduces your risk of getting it by seven percent for every cup a day that you drink!
(World Health Organization)

Better Athletic Performance after Drinking Coffee

Usually we think of drinking coffee as a sedentary activity. But, it turns out that you can work out harder and even run longer and faster after drinking coffee. Coffee enhances athletic performance.
The bottom line is that coffee may help you pay attention when you are getting tired which should help in sports where that matters like reading the green correctly on the last hole of the Masters after four long days of playing professional golf. And, the adrenaline secreted in response to drinking coffee helps in endurance sports like running and cycling. This effect works just as well in heavy coffee drinkers as it does with those who normally drink no coffee. Coffee drinking does not seem to help strength activities like weight lifting.
(Journal of Applied Physiology)

Is Sex Better Too after Drinking Coffee?

If endurance is necessary for good sex, then drinking coffee ought to work as we noted in the part about coffee and better athletic performance. However, there is more to the story of coffee and better sex.
A study in 2009 showed that in a group of elderly men and women, coffee increased potency in men and libido in women.
(Dr. Bharwani/Archives of Internal Medicine)

Coffee Drinkers Reduce Their Risk of Getting Alzheimer ‘s Disease

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported a study linking coffee drinking to a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. This 2009 report looked at 1,409 individuals in Finland who were followed for more than twenty years and reported on their coffee intake, among other things. Of the group of 1,409 people, 61 developed dementia of which 48 were cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

Coffee and Health - Alzheimers
Coffee Reduces the Risk of Alzheimers

When the researchers compared coffee drinkers to those who drank little or no coffee, there was a 65% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the coffee drinkers. The maximum benefit occurred in people who reported drinking three to five cups of coffee a day. Those who drank decaf coffee experienced the same level of benefit as drinkers of coffee with caffeine. The consensus of scientists is that it is the level of antioxidants in coffee that is responsible for this benefit.
(Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease)

If you are interested in information about antioxidants and how they may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease, and you don´t mind wading through a lot of science, take a look at an article published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.

They go through a long list of foods and drinks with high levels of antioxidants, including coffee, and discuss the rationale for assuming that each one may reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s. The one substance that has been shown to make a difference in outcome over a long period of time is coffee!
(Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity)

Coffee and a Reduced Risk of Dying

In our article, Drink Coffee, Live Longer, we report on a study published in the journal Circulation. The ultimate health benefit of drinking coffee is that you reduce your risk of dying from a large number of different diseases in the next few years. The title of the study is a real mouthful, “Association of Coffee Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Large Prospective Cohorts.”

Here is a, hopefully, clear explanation of how coffee reduces your risk of dying in the next few years. The Harvard School of Public Health has enrolled Harvard graduates in the health professions in a long term study of health outcomes and lifestyle. This study has gone on for decades and includes more than 167,000 women and 40,000 men.

Over the years, every time they were contacted, people reported how much coffee they drank. They also reported on health issues. And, if they died, the cause of death was found in public health records.
This study looked at 4,690,072 person years (# of people x # of years). During that time 19,524 women and 12,432 men died. When the researchers looked at those who lived and those who died they also looked at reported coffee consumption. The bottom line was that folks who drank from one to five cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of dying during the course of the study than people who were not coffee drinkers.
Cups per day and Lower Risk of Death (over the course of the study)

  • 1 cup: 6%
  • 2 cups: 8%
  • 3 to 5 cups: 15%
  • More than 5 cups: 12%

What was happening was that the coffee drinkers were less likely to develop problems like type II diabetes, heart disease, strokes, or neurologic disease. And they were less likely to become depressed and commit suicide. Thus, the coffee drinkers were less likely to die during the course of the 20+ year study than those who did not drink coffee.

The benefit of drinking coffee was not affected by drinking decaf or regular, did not extend to deaths from cancer, and did not extend to people who smoked!

The Circulation article is very informative and full of lots of science. For a more “readable” version check out a New York Times article that reports on the study, Coffee Tied to Lower Risk of Dying.

Why Does Coffee Reduce the Incidence of Diseases and, Effectively, Prolong Life?

Why is it that drinking coffee has so many health benefits? Two things in coffee have been identified as being helpful, caffeine and antioxidants. We noted in regard to depression and suicide risks that caffeine is what makes the difference. For pretty much all of the rest of the health benefits of coffee it comes down to the antioxidants. The issue that researchers mention time and time again is called “chronic oxidative stress.”

Oxidation and Antioxidants

There are all sorts of densely scientific explanations of oxidation. The short version is that when oxygen combines with something, that something is oxidized. When oxygen combines with iron, the iron rusts. Within the human body oxygen is necessary for life and oxygen can also cause damage to the interior of cells. The sum total of this damage can be seen as oxidative stress.

The “too much” oxidation results in degenerative illnesses and premature aging. The body has a whole host of defense mechanisms to avoid excessive oxidation and oxidative stress, but the addition of antioxidants to the diet is known to help. The body’s antioxidants and those in the foods and drinks we consume help reduce the rate of damage from oxidation. Pretty much all of the health benefits of coffee appear to come from the antioxidants it provides the human body.

A short and useful explanation of oxidative stress explains that because we breathe oxygen we need enzymatic and molecular defenses to guard against oxygen free radicals that cause oxidation. When the body’s defenses are not sufficient, damage occurs to the RNA, DNA, proteins, and other constituents of the body’s cells. The cumulative damage results in damaged cell functioning, cell death, and cancer.
(University of Gothenburg)

Coffee as a Source of Antioxidants

So, is coffee the best source of antioxidants? Coffee is not the richest source of antioxidants but we drink so much of it that coffee is, for most people, their most reliable and important source of antioxidants.
The Nutrition Journal published a comprehensive study of foods and beverages and the antioxidants they contain. Coffee is mentioned in the summary where the authors note the high level of antioxidants and high level of consumption of coffee making it an important source, if not the most important source for most people in the world.
(Nutrition Journal)

What Is the Level of Antioxidants in Your Coffee?

There are antioxidants in green coffee and there are antioxidants created by roasting coffee. Green coffee antioxidants include trigonelline and ferulic, caffeic, chlorogenic, and n-coumaric acids. When coffee is roasted melanoidins, phenylalanines and several heterocyclic compounds are created. All of these are powerful antioxidants. The “take home lesson” here is not the specific names of these compounds but rather the fact that green coffee has antioxidants and by roasting coffee we create more of them!

But, not all coffee varieties have the same level of antioxidants. Stale coffee that has been stored improperly or too long has lower levels of antioxidants. And, coffees from different parts of the world may have different levels of antioxidants as well. How coffee is processed makes a difference as does the method of roasting.

Interesting Findings

  • Green Robusta coffee beans have more antioxidant activity than green Arabica beans, but with light roasting the difference goes away. And, by the time a dark roast is achieved, Arabica exceeds Robusta in antioxidant activity.
  • Microwaving coffee to roast it does a better job of preserving antioxidants than traditional convection roasting.
  • Wet processing of coffee preserves more antioxidants than dry processing.
  • Total antioxidant content was measured for coffees provided by Freshly Roasted Coffee.  Coffees from Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Puerto Rico ranked the highest and are listed here in descending order.


When Coffee Can Cause Health Problems

Blood Pressure

Caffeine is a stimulant. It can raise your blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, the caffeine in coffee can cause a short term elevation of your blood pressure. It is thought at part of this effect is because caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline which in turn raises pressure. Caffeine may also block the ability of arteries to widen which, in turn, can raise blood pressure.

However, many who drink coffee develop a tolerance to caffeine and their blood pressure no longer goes up with coffee and caffeine consumption. While some regular coffee drinkers experience an elevation of their blood pressure, many do not have any long term problems. According to the good doctors at Mayo, the best course of action is to find out if you do or do not have high blood pressure and, if you do, ask your doctor about how much coffee you can safely drink. If you want to play scientist, take your blood pressure before drinking coffee and again half an hour to two hours after finishing the cup. At Mayo, their opinion is that, in general, you should not have to worry about drinking a couple of 8-ounce cups of coffee a day (200 milligrams of caffeine). But, if you have significant health problems relating to blood pressure, talk to your doctor!
(Mayo Clinic)

Gastritis, Acid Reflux, and Ulcers

Heartburn (reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus) is a common complaint when one drinks too much coffee. Thus, doctors have typically advised against coffee drinking for patients with gastritis, acid reflux, and stomach of duodenal (upper small intestine) ulcers. However, recent scientific analysis shows that there is no proven association between gastritis or ulcers and drinking coffee that contains caffeine! Investigators speculate that other constituents of coffee such as its many antioxidants have protective effects. (Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology)  (PLoS One. 2013; 8(6): e6599)

The obvious answer in this case is that if you drink a lot of coffee and get heartburn, cut back until the heartburn goes away! And, for continuing problems in this area, see your doctor.

Coffee and Cancer

Drinking Coffee Helps Prevent Cancer

Recent scientific studies indicate that drinking coffee reduces the risk of developing cancers of the prostate, liver, breast, colon, rectum, endometrium (lining of the uterus), mouth and throat. In general, the benefit goes high with more cups per day consumed up to around 6 cups a day.
(American Cancer Society)

How about Acrylamide?

Acrylamide was in the news when a California court ruled that coffee needed to come with a label warning that it could cause cancer. The key issues here are California Proposition 65, roasting and frying starchy foods, and what constitutes a meaningful risk to the consumer.

California Proposition 65

This California law “requires the state to maintain and update a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.”


According to the American Cancer Society, “Acrylamide is a chemical used mainly in certain industrial processes, such as in making paper, dyes, and plastics, and in treating drinking water and wastewater.
Acrylamide can also form in some starchy foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking. Acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally in food.”

According to these folks the highest levels of acrylamide are in French fries and cigarette smoke.

The primary evidence for acrylamide as a cause of cancer is from lab rats that were given acrylamide in their drinking water at level 1,000 to 10,000 higher than humans might be expected to be exposed to, ever.
(American Cancer Society)

Court of Appeals Reverses Acrylamide Decision Regarding Cereals

Coffee still needs to come with a warning label in California but according to the California court of appeals decision, breakfast cereals do not despite the fact that a lower court ruled that they do. The bottom line is that Federal policy is to promote cereals with fiber as being healthy and a cancer warning would negate that effort.
(Hogan Lovells Law Firm)

The problem for you as a coffee drinker is this. Do you believe in all of the evidence that coffee is good for you or do you believe that poisoning lab rats with excessive levels of a chemical really applies to you?
An interesting analogy is this. Put a lab rat, or you, in a room with 7 feet (84 inches) of water and nothing to hold on to. You have to tread water to stay alive and will eventually drown and die. That is a 100% mortality rate. If you reduce the water in the room to 1% of that level (0.84 inches) your risk of dying is now virtually zero and certainly not 1%!

It is certainly a worthwhile goal to protect the public against substances that cause cancer. But, in the case of coffee, the scientists find “no convincing evidence” that drinking coffee causes any kind of cancer.
(American Cancer Society)

At we try to keep up with all of the news that relates to coffee and health. And, when we find something important or just interesting we will post the information on our site. If you have questions about the health aspects of coffee, please feel free to leave a comment and we will get back to you. And, if your question is of general interest, we may write an article about it.

Make Good Coffee at Home

You love the coffee at your local coffee house but would like to make good coffee at home as well. Start by considering why coffee house coffee is good. They start with high quality green Arabica coffee beans. They roast enough for the day. They grind the coffee just before brewing. And, they keep their coffee brewing apparatus clean.

Coffee House Coffee

Coffee house coffee is made from espresso. Ideally they use USDA organic certified coffee but that is not guaranteed. What makes their coffee good is that they follow the steps we noted above by using Arabica coffee beans from places like the coffee growing axis of Colombia. Because they buy green coffee beans that retain their freshness for up to two years, you are getting fresh coffee with lots of healthy antioxidants and excellent flavor. When they roast their beans that day there is no time for the roasted whole coffee beans to lose any of their freshness and, likewise, when they only grind enough for the batch they are brewing, there is no time for the coffee to get flat and tasteless.

Brewing Coffee

There are many ways of making coffee as noted in our coffee making article. One of the most common and best ways to make good coffee at home is to use a French Press.

Because this device uses a metal screen instead of a paper or cloth filter, more oils and minute solids remain in the coffee. The result is a deeper and richer taste that many coffee lovers prefer.

Buy Colombian organic coffee, whole beans, and roast just for the day if you have green coffee beans. If you have roasted whole bean coffee, grind just enough for what you want to make. Make the coffee and serve as soon as you get done pushing down the plunger.

If you like espresso, make sure to routinely clean the apparatus. A common way to make good coffee at home down in Colombia where great coffee comes from is to make pour over coffee. Put your ground in a cloth bag, boil the water, and pour it over the coffee. As with French press and espresso, only grind enough coffee to make what you are drinking and serving your guests.

Other ways of making coffee like Turkish coffee involve boiling the grounds in the water and letting them settle. If you want to mimic the coffee that great grandma made on the farm, make egg coffee buy breaking a couple of eggs into the pot before boiling and make enough to serve a large family gathering.

Practice Makes Perfect When You Want to Make Good Coffee at Home

The basics of good coffee beans, fresh coffee beans, and clean implements should never change but otherwise feel free to experiment with how strong you make your coffee, if you use a French press, try pour over, or take a turn a making espresso. With time you will find the exact process that makes the best coffee for you. Then, enjoy your coffee!