Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain Coffea species. From the coffee fruit, the seeds are separated to produce a stable, raw product: unroasted green coffee. Wikipedia
Coffee is darkly colored, bitter, slightly acidic and has a stimulating effect in humans, primarily due to its caffeine content. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world, and can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways (e.g., espresso, French press, caffè latte, or already-brewed canned coffee). It is usually served hot, although chilled or iced coffee is common. Sugar, sugar substitutes, milk or cream are often used to lessen the bitter taste. It may be served with coffee cake or another sweet dessert like doughnuts. A commercial establishment that sells prepared coffee beverages is known as a coffee shop (not to be confused with Dutch coffeeshops selling cannabis).
The word coffee entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch koffie, borrowed from the Ottoman Turkish kahve (قهوه), borrowed in turn from the Arabic qahwah (قَهْوَة). The Arabic word qahwah was traditionally held to refer to a type of wine whose etymology is given by Arab lexicographers as deriving from the verb قَهِيَ qahiya, ‘to lack hunger’, in reference to the drink’s reputation as an appetite suppressant.
The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century in the accounts of Ahmed al-Ghaffar in Yemen. It was here in Arabia that coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed, in a similar way to how it is prepared now. Coffee was used by Sufi circles to stay awake for their religious rituals.
By the 16th century, coffee had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. The first coffee seeds were smuggled out of the Middle East by Sufi Baba Budan from Yemen to the Indian subcontinent during the time. Before then, all exported coffee was boiled or otherwise sterilised. Portraits of Baba Budan depict him as having smuggled seven coffee seeds by strapping them to his chest. The first plants grown from these smuggled seeds were planted in Mysore.
The Dutch East India Company was the first to import coffee on a large scale. The Dutch later grew the crop in Java and Ceylon. The first exports of Indonesian coffee from Java to the Netherlands occurred in 1711.
Through the efforts of the British East India Company, coffee became popular in England as well. John Evelyn recorded tasting the drink at Oxford in England in a diary entry of May 1637 to where it had been brought by a student of Balliol College from Crete named Nathaniel Conopios of Crete. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is still in existence today. Coffee was introduced in France in 1657, and in Austria and Poland after the 1683 Battle of Vienna.
- Research suggests drinking coffee in moderation reduces the risk of chronic liver disease by a fifth.
- Coffee drinkers were found to be less likely to develop fatty liver disease, liver cancer or die from chronic liver disease.
- Three to four cups daily can help protect against a number of health conditions.
Your morning caffeine boost isn’t just helping kick-start your day – it might have health benefits as well. Drinking a few cups of coffee daily reduces the risk of chronic liver disease by over a fifth, according to a new study published in the online journal BMC Public Health.
But despite its universal appeal, the humble coffee bean has at different times been labelled both a health hazard and a health boon. And while a morning mug of coffee can make you more alert and better able to concentrate, too much caffeine can lead to restlessness, feelings of anxiety and an increased heart rate.
Coffee drinking and liver disease
To investigate the impact of coffee on our health, scientists at the University of Southampton in the UK, analysed the UK Biobank‘s health data, which has been collected from almost half a million people over more than a decade.
Results suggest drinking coffee in any form – ground, instant, caffeinated or not – reduces the risk of developing chronic or fatty liver disease by 19%, liver cancer by 21% and cuts deaths from chronic liver disease by almost half. Liver diseases like these kill around two million people each year.
Positive health benefits were linked to people regularly drinking a moderate amount: three to four cups each day was found to be the optimum consumption level, with ground coffee slightly more beneficial than the instant variety.
“Coffee is widely accessible, and the benefits we see from our study may mean it could offer a potential preventative treatment for chronic liver disease. This would be especially valuable in countries with lower income and worse access to healthcare and where the burden of chronic liver disease is highest,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Oliver Kennedy, told Medical News Today.
A 2017 review of clinical trials found that drinking coffee is generally safe within usual levels of intake and is more likely to improve health outcomes than to cause harm at doses of 3 or 4 cups of coffee daily. Exceptions include possible increased risk in women having bone fractures, and a possible increased risk in pregnant women of fetal loss or decreased birth weight. Results were complicated by poor study quality, and differences in age, gender, health status, and serving size.
Coffee’s health benefits
But health benefits associated with coffee consumption don’t stop there. Moderate but regular coffee intake could reduce the risk of other diseases, too. Here’s how:
A 1999 review found that coffee does not cause indigestion, but may promote gastrointestinal reflux. Two reviews of clinical studies on people recovering from abdominal, colorectal, and gynecological surgery found that coffee consumption was safe and effective for enhancing postoperative gastrointestinal function.
In 2012, the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study found that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower risk of death, and that those who drank any coffee lived longer than those who did not. However the authors noted, “whether this was a causal or associational finding cannot be determined from our data.” A 2014 meta-analysis found that coffee consumption (4 cups/day) was inversely associated with all-cause mortality (a 16% lower risk), as well as cardiovascular disease mortality specifically (a 21% lower risk from drinking 3 cups/day), but not with cancer mortality with exception being oral cancer mortality.
Additional meta-analyses corroborated these findings, showing that higher coffee consumption (2–4 cups per day) was associated with a reduced risk of death by all disease causes. An association of coffee drinking with reduced risk for death from various sources was confirmed by a widely cited prospective cohort study of ten European countries in 2017.
Moderate coffee consumption is not a risk factor for coronary heart disease. A 2012 meta-analysis concluded that people who drank moderate amounts of coffee had a lower rate of heart failure, with the biggest effect found for those who drank more than four cups a day. A 2014 meta-analysis concluded that cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease and stroke, is less likely with three to five cups of non-decaffeinated coffee per day, but more likely with over five cups per day. A 2016 meta-analysis showed that coffee consumption was associated with a reduced risk of death in patients who have had a myocardial infarction.
The effect of no or moderate daily consumption of coffee on risk for developing hypertension has been assessed in several reviews during the 21st century. A 2019 review found that one to two cups consumed per day had no effect on hypertension risk, whereas drinking three or more cups per day reduced the risk, a finding in agreement with a 2017 analysis which showed a 9% lower risk of hypertension with long-term consumption of up to seven cups of coffee per day. Another review in 2018 found that the risk of hypertension was reduced by 2% with each one cup per day increment of coffee consumption up to 8 cups per day, compared with people who did not consume any coffee. By contrast, a 2011 review had found that drinking one to three cups of coffee per day may pose a slightly increased risk of developing hypertension.
Heart disease – A recent study of the role of diet and behaviour in heart failure found that increased coffee consumption was associated with reduced long-term risk. Researchers used AI to analyse existing datasets and found that one or more cups of coffee a day may reduce the occurrence of heart failure by nearly a third.
The UK NHS advises that avoiding coffee may reduce anxiety. Caffeine, the major active ingredient in coffee, is associated with anxiety. At high doses, typically greater than 300 mg, caffeine can both cause and worsen anxiety. For some people, discontinuing caffeine use can significantly reduce anxiety. Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder is a subclass of substance- or medication-induced anxiety disorder. Populations that may be most impacted by caffeine consumption are adolescents and those already suffering anxiety disorders. Preliminary research indicated the possibility of a beneficial relationship between coffee intake and reduced depression. Long-term preliminary research, including assessment of symptoms for dementia and cognitive impairment, was inconclusive for coffee having an effect in the elderly, mainly due to the poor quality of the studies.
Neurological health – Several studies have linked caffeine consumption to a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Researchers are still not entirely clear what role coffee plays, with most attributing the protective effect to caffeine. Other recent research has suggested that some of the fatty acids contained in the drink may also influence the disease.
Depression – Drinking at least two cups of coffee daily has been linked to a reduced risk of depression, according to a meta-analysis commissioned by the US National Coffee Association. Separate research suggests that coffee constituents like caffeine, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid and caffeic acid could all influence the pathology of depression.
Type II diabetes
In a systematic review and meta-analysis of 28 prospective observational studies, representing over one million participants, every additional cup of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumed in a day was associated, respectively, with a 9% and 6% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Research on the effects of coffee consumption on cancer risk generally has indicated no effect or a slightly lower risk of cancer, particularly in the liver.Coffee may influence the development of cancer cells in the body in several ways. By stimulating bile acids, for example, which speed up digestion through the colon, colon tissue could be exposed to fewer carcinogens. The American Institute for Cancer Research says that there is ‘probable evidence’ that drinking coffee reduces the risk of endometrial and liver cancers, and it could also have an impact on cancers of the skin, mouth and throat, although the evidence here is less conclusive.
This is in contrast to suggestions dating back to the 1990s linking coffee consumption with developing cancer, which have since been revoked.
Increasing evidence has shown that coffee consumption is protective against the progression of liver disease to cirrhosis. This is associated with antioxidant and anti-fibrotic effects of coffee.
So, armed with this knowledge, your next cup of coffee should be even more enjoyable.