Coffee’s origin was in Ethiopia. Coffee’s use then spread from Ethiopia up through Egypt and Yemen. From its introduction to Yemen, coffee soon spread throughout the Arab world.

It was not until 1670 that coffee was first introduced to India as pure coffee. From its smuggling into India, coffee then made the leap to Italy before spreading into Europe, Indonesia and the Americas. It was Italy that truly played the biggest role in bringing coffee to Europe and the Americas. Prior to arriving in Italy, coffee was looked upon as a drink of the Muslim community because of the role that it played in religious rituals. However, once coffee came to Italy, Pope Clement VIII declared the drink to be an acceptable drink for Christians. Upon this declaration, coffee became more widespread than ever.

It was in the mid-sixteen hundred that coffee arrived in England through exportation of the British East India Company. From here, coffee quickly trickled into France, Austria, Poland and elsewhere.

The coffee plant

The coffee bean begins life on one of the several shrubs in the genus Coffea. The most commonly utilized coffee shrubs are Coffea Canephora which are known for producing Robusta coffee, and Coffea Arabica which is known for producing Arabica coffee.

Despite the fact that the majority of coffee comes from two coffee plants, the flavor of coffee beans can be completely different based upon the region where the plant was grown. Coffee connoisseurs can actually determine the origin of a coffee variety based upon the body of the coffee as well as the acidity, flavor and aroma.

Coffee culture

Civilization, in its onward amenity, has produced few important nonalcoholic beverages—the extract of the tea plant, the extract of the cocoa bean, and the extract of the coffee bean.

Coffee is universal in its appeal. People love coffee because of its two-fold effect—the pleasurable sensation and the increased efficiency it produces. We drink coffee because it adds to our sense of well-being. It not only smells good and tastes good to all mankind, but all respond to its wonderful stimulating properties. The chief factors in coffee goodness are the caffeine content and the coffee’s natural oil, called caffeol. Caffeine increases the capacity for muscular and mental work without harmful reactions. The caffeol supplies the flavor and the aroma —that indescribable exotic fragrance that woos us through the nostrils, forming one of the principal elements that make up the lure of coffee.

Coffee and mind flow

In time coffee houses became the gathering places for fashionable people, brilliant and scholarly men, open-minded free intellectuals, and artists who would enjoy the opportunity for endless gossips and discussions. The consumption of coffee has been curiously associated with movements of political protest in its whole history. Coffee has promoted clear thinking and right living wherever introduced.

One of the most interesting facts in the history of the coffee drink is that wherever it has been introduced, it has spelled revolution. It has been the world’s most radical drink in that its function has always been to make people think. And when the people began to think, they became dangerous to harmful political pressure.

Dr. Charles B. Reed, professor in the medical school of Northwestern University, says that coffee may be considered as a type of substance that fosters genius.

Voltaire and Balzac were the most ardent devotees of coffee among the French literati. Voltaire, the king of wits, was the king of coffee drinkers. Even in his old age, he was said to have consumed fifty cups daily.

To the abstemious Balzac, coffee was both food and drink. In Frederick Lawton’s Balzac we read: “Balzac worked hard. His habit was to go to bed at six in the evening, sleep till twelve, and, after, to rise and write for nearly twelve hours at a stretch, imbibing coffee as a stimulant through these spells of composition.

Coffee basic properties

In general, a moderate amount of coffee stimulates appetite, improves digestion, and relieves the sense of plenitude in the stomach. It increases intestinal peristalsis, acts as a mild laxative, and slightly stimulates the secretion of bile. Excessive use, however, profoundly disturbs digestive function, and promotes constipation and hemorrhoids.

When coffee passes directly to the stomach, its sole immediate action is to dilute the previous contents, just as other ingested liquids do. Eventually the caffeine content is absorbed by the system, and from then on stimulation is apparent.

In case when coffee is consumed with milk or cream, upon reaching the stomach, milk and cream are coagulated by the gastric juice; but the casein product formed is not indigestible. These liquids, when added to coffee, are partially acted upon by the small acid content of the brew, so that the gastric juice action is not so pronounced, for the coagulation was started before ingestion, and the coagulable constituent, casein, is more dilute in the cup as consumed than it is in milk.

Coffee health benefits

Coffee contains a number of useful nutrients, including vitamin B2, B3 niacin, magnesium, potassium, and various phenolic compounds, or antioxidants. The potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee include: protection against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and liver cancer, and the promotion of a healthy heart.

Coffee can improve energy levels and make you smarter. Due to caffeine, coffee can help people feel less tired and with increased energy levels. After the caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream, it travels to the brain. Basically caffeine blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine. As a result it improves various aspects of brain functions. Coffee enhances the function of the Central Nervous System and increases cognitive performance by intercepting a chemical called adenine which slows down nerves and causes sleepiness. In addition, diuresis is increased due to increased blood flow to the Kidneys. Coffee increases the body’s capacity for work and exercise by 15-20%: increasing the heart rate and acting as a mild analgesic. Coronary blood flow and metabolic rate are increased as well as smooth muscle being relaxed.

Coffee can help burn our fat deposits and drastically improve physical performance due to caffeine stimulation, and high adrenaline levels in the blood. Caffeine breaks down body fat, making free fatty acids available as fuel. Coffee has the biggest source of antioxidants in the diet. People get more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and vegetables combined. In fact, coffee may be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.

Coffee and traditional Chinese medicine

Coffee is yang in nature. The green coffee bean according to Chinese medicine stimulates or regulates the liver qi, disperses stagnant qi, opens the heart orifice, and purges the gallbladder. When the liver qi is blocked, the body will exhibit signs of being agitated and devitalized. This is part of the reason we feel an intense burst of mental and physical stimulation after consuming coffee, it’s actions listed above are also why it has the ability to promote a bowel movement, alleviate constipation, and promote urination. Initially the green coffee bean was used medicinally to regulate menstruation and stimulate the liver qi, but that was before we began roasting the beans. Roasting herbs brings out their warming ability which can aggravate many symptoms if there are already signs of heat in the body or if the liver blood and yin are deficient. If you’re aggravated by too much warming you may experience hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, and anxiety. Since coffee is a diuretic, this will cause your body to lose even more vital fluids necessary to moisten your skin and intestines. “Like a plant in the sunshine, without water to balance out the sunlight, the plant becomes dry.” It can also clear heat, which helps balance out the very warm nature of coffee.

Its ability to increase the metabolism has applications to combating dampness with its dispersing nature. It both ascends qi, giving us a lift of spirit, and descends qi in its actions of diuresis, increased peristalsis, and bronchodilation. These last two functions show coffee’s connection to the metal element: it acts on the lungs and the large intestine.

Because the green coffee bean stimulates the liver qi to move, for those with deficient qi, it can leave you feeling very ungrounded and out of balance. Because it moves stuck qi, some women who tend toward qi stagnation will experience calming sensations as the immediate effect. But as the day progresses the feeling of stuck qi or irritability will return because women cannot metabolize or process caffeine in the same manner as men will. It stays in our body for up to 24 hours!

The coffee bean also has bitter, acrid and sweet flavors associated, bitter flavor is associated with the liver and sweet with the spleen. When drinking coffee it has the ability to regulate the liver and spleen to help harmonize digestion.

People with a diagnosis of liver fire or liver yang rising should avoid coffee altogether until their symptoms are resolved.

Quality first

Black coffee is the healthiest way to take advantage of the coffee benefits. If you must have cream and sugar go for the healthier versions: raw stevia, raw unfiltered honey or coconut sugar are decent choices for sweetener. Organic, carrageenan-free, non-dairy milk like almond/coconut/hemp make for good creamer. It can be helpful for blood sugar balancing and energy to add some fat like coconut oil or ghee, or even grass-fed butter.

At the proper dosages, the coffee bean has the ability to improve health in several ways. A typical dosage for this type of herbal medicine is in the range of 6-18 grams per day, which translates to about 1-3 cups of coffee, depending on how many grams of ground beans are used. Roasting the coffee beans do not detract from the beneficial effects of this herb.