For many, coffee is more than a beverage - it is a way of life. As we struggle to get out of bed and face the day, the seductive aroma of fresh brewed coffee awakens our senses and encourages us to power forward, anticipating the recharge that comes from that first cup of coffee. A mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffee shop run alerts all of our senses as we inhale a scent more fragrant than the memories of our mother’s kitchen, and then sip our way to nirvana by way of a flavorful triple-shot latte or cappuccino.
You may be surprised to learn that coffee has significant benefits beyond its ability to invigorate our body and spirit, thanks, in part, to antioxidants.
In addition to fighting heart disease and cancer, antioxidants help to rid the body of free radicals. Oxidants, also known as free radicals, are molecules that have unpaired electrons that can damage cells structures and DNA. Antioxidants, such as those found in coffee, give electrons to free radicals, neutralizing their potential damage. According to independent research, coffee drinking has also been linked with a reduced risk of type two diabetes, colon and liver cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants contained in coffee include hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols, among others. Hydrocinnamic acids are highly effective at neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative stress, while polyphenols help prevent conditions such as heart disease, cancer and adult onset (type two) diabetes.
According to Professor Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania Americans receive more antioxidants from coffee than any other nutrition source, including established sources of antioxidants such as cranberries, apples, or tomatoes. While other foods such as berries may be higher in antioxidants the fact is most people will simply not consume a large amounts of berries daily. However, consuming several cups of coffee per day is far more normal for many. Norwegian and Finnish studies show coffee to be responsible for providing about 64% of people’s intake of antioxidants, with consumption of 2-4 cups of coffee per day. Studies in Spain, Japan, Poland and France also drew the same conclusion – coffee is the largest source of antioxidants in people’s diets.
On the other hand, professor Vinson pointed out, that the study did not prove that coffee was good for you as high levels of antioxidants in food do not necessarily translate into higher levels absorbed by the body. Mr. Vinson
Bear in mind that different foods provide different antioxidants, all healthy and vital in maintaining wellbeing. It is important to have a varied diet that includes other foods rich in antioxidants, in addition to coffee.
Much of the western world enjoys 1-2 cups of coffee per day, with the Brits consuming nearly 70 million cups per day, and nearly half of all Americans identify themselves as daily coffee drinkers. Research by the American Cocoa Research Institute indicates that drinking 4-5 cups of coffee per day is not only safe, but it may confer a variety of health benefits. Some benefits include increased alertness and better short-term memory recall, a lowered risk of cirrhosis among heavy alcohol drinkers, postponement of muscle fatigue and alleviation of asthma symptoms, in some cases.
In fairness, there are certain risks associated with extremely excessive caffeine intake, including risk of increased blood pressure among those with high blood pressure, insomnia, worsening of PMS symptoms, and possible heartburn and indigestion.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the effects of coffee on the body and how it has proven to be beneficial.
One of the best-known effects of coffee is the increase in alertness that most coffee drinkers experience. The caffeine in coffee suppresses a neurotransmitter in the brain known as adenosine. Adenosine has a profound effect on attention, alertness and sleep. Adenosine builds up in the brain during the day and once it reaches a certain level, people have trouble concentrating and staying awake.
Caffeine prevents adenosine from binding in the brain, so you can avoid that tired, sluggish feeling by consuming caffeine. As adenosine is blocked from doing its job, brain chemicals glutamate and dopamine increase, which improve energy levels, mental performance, and age related mental decline.
Coffee can also help alleviate depression by increasing serotonin. Caffeine also increases by 10% your ability to learn, and can relieve headaches and migraines, thanks to its ability to constrict blood vessels in the brain. Therefore, the takeaway here is that one of the greatest life hacks ever is the simple act of consuming a little coffee.
Researchers at Harvard University tracked a group of more than 128,000 coffee drinkers and determined that coffee did not increase the risk of heart disease, even when more than 6 cups a day were consumed.
Scientists at Brooklyn College determined those who drank 4 cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a 53% lower risk of death from heart disease compared to those who do not drink coffee.
Those who were non-hypertensive experienced no ill effects from the temporary blood pressure increase caused by coffee, according to Dr. Matthew Sorrentino, a cardiologist at University of Chicago. Over time, any impact on blood pressure is reduced in those who drink coffee regularly as their bodies develop a tolerance to caffeine. Dr. John Kassotis, a cardiac electrophysiologist at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn suggests that if caffeine makes your heart race of skip beats, you may be highly sensitive to caffeine, but notes these symptoms are considered innocuous unless you’ve recently had a heart attack. Dr. Kassotis recommends checking with your doctor to determine if you should limit your intake of coffee if you are caffeine sensitive.
That annoying adenosine rears its head again when it comes to your workouts, meaning caffeine can have a direct effect on your muscles. Calcium is released within a muscle fiber to allow the muscle to contract. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors from attaching to those muscle fibers, triggering increased electrical activity that allows for bigger bursts of calcium, creating a stronger muscle contraction.
Consuming 140-400 mg of caffeine 30-60 minutes prior to a workout improves both speed and endurance, making your workout seem easier.
When your central nervous system is activated, your body releases stress hormones in response, creating a “fight-or-flight” response. This will result in your liver pumping additional sugar into your bloodstream for extra energy. In reality, it’s the last thing most people need now that we’re not being routinely chased by wild animals or engaging in spear fights.
The extra sugar released in the bloodstream, but not burned, leads to you storing more fat, thus increasing your risk for diabetes. Providing you leave out the sugar, five cups of coffee per day can cut your risk of developing diabetes by half, according to a 2005 Harvard University study. Researchers are unable to pinpoint exactly how coffee lowers the risk for diabetes, but are able to establish a clear pattern of effectiveness.
If you’re looking to stay sharper, boost your workout potential, reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, coffee may be as valuable as liquid gold. Whether its neutralizing free radicals, suppressing adenosine, encouraging boosts of calcium in the muscles or working whatever magic it works to reduce the risk of diabetes, coffee has not only earned its way out of the doghouse, it’s worked its way into the science books as a bit of a medical marvel. The next time you’re passing by a coffee house and debating with yourself if you should have that extra cup of coffee, the answer is a resounding yes!
While a nice hot cup of coffee can be a nice warm treat on a winter morning, the same cup might be completely undesirable during a summer afternoon. Iced coffee is very easy to make with the AeroPress® coffee maker. The Aeropress brews a delicious cup of iced coffee very quickly, and for only about $25.
If you are a stranger to this wonderful coffee maker, you are in for a treat. The Aeropress uses a simple plunging mechanism to push water through a filter located in the cap of the Aeropress. We have articles on a couple different brewing methods. We cover both standard brewing and inverted brewing. Normally the coffee is dispensed into a cup placed below the brewer. For creating our iced coffee this will be the same, except the cup will be filled with ice.
Keep reading to learn how to create the perfect cup of iced coffee in under 2 minutes!
Iced coffee is brewed in one of two ways, either a hot brew or a cold brew. Lets discuss the differences between the two brewing methods.
Cold brewed coffee is a slow brewed coffee that is never heated.
The hot brew method involves brewing your coffee hot and then cooling with ice immediately after.
The Aeropress coffee maker shows its strengths when brewing iced coffee. It takes some of the more favorable parts of hot and cold brewing and combines them into one powerful little iced coffee brewer.
As mentioned above, we are brewing a delicious iced coffee by creating a concentrate with the Aeropress. This means that we need to use an adjusted water to coffee ground ratio.
Lets use a ratio of 24g of coffee per 2.5oz of water. This means we will be using two scoops of ground coffee with just under two shots of water. Use this ratio to create as little or as much brewed concentrate as you need.
We will also be steeping for 90 seconds, which will create a delicious concentrate for our iced coffee.
The Aeropress is known for making delicious coffee through the standard methods of brewing. You can read more about the standard way to brew coffee with the Aeropress in our How to Brew with the Aeropress Guide.
We consider inverted or upside down Aeropress brewing to be the best way to make coffee with your Aeropress. The coffee that this method produces tastes better, let us tell you why!
There are a couple issues with the normal brewing method. First, if you steep right side up, you end up with under extracted coffee because the filter lets coffee through before pressing. Second, the bloom of foam that forms when the brew is stirred ends up being pushed into the coffee puck that is formed when pressed.
Lets elaborate on these two issues.
These instructions are meant to be general. You can apply your favorite Aeropress recipe to this method. We prefer a Metal Filter but you also use a Paper Filter. Flip your Aeropress upside down and follow our inverted Aeropress brewing instructions.
There is a bit of an art to this and it may take some practice to get it right. For an more automated way to make high quality coffee you may want to go with a high quality coffee maker, preferably with a grinder. If that is your preference check out our guide for choosing the best coffee maker with grinder.
The concepts and procedure may seem advanced, but after a little practice you will find it is actually quite easy. Watch our inverted brewing video below to see the instructions above in action.
The Aeropress makes its claim that it is in fact a coffee AND espresso maker. This fact can and is argued by coffee purists. Espresso fanatics are quick to point out that while the Aeropress makes a strong, concentrated coffee blend, it is not quite an espresso brew by definition.
So what makes coffee a true espresso brew?
Traditional espresso is defined as a 1-2 oz coffee shot brewed from roughly 1 tablespoon of finely ground coffee. Espresso features a layer of foamy cream called crema which is generated because the coffee is brewed under a high pressure.
Espresso shots can be consumed in many ways. Many prefer the straight espresso taste, but espresso is also used to make drinks such as a latte, mocha, macchiato, cappuccino, or americano.
How does the Aeropress brew compare?
The Aeropress satisfies most but not all of the properties of an espresso brew. The missing property of the Aeropress espresso is the crema which an espresso maker generates. The Aeropress normally doesn’t brew with a comparable pressure to an espresso maker which is the main reason it normally doesn’t create creama.
Are you an Aeropress fanatic and want a solution to this issue? Don’t worry! There are solutions to the no-creama issue that the Aeropress sees – more on that later.
As was pointed out before, it seems that espresso purists might make the biggest fuss about the true definition of the Aeropress brew. That being said, no matter the coffee drinker, the coffee the Aeropress creates is widely loved!
Call it what you want – its still a great brew!
Go ahead and call the coffee whatever you want; an espresso, a coffee shot, or a strong bit o’ joe. At the end of the day the coffee is delicious and can be used in the same way that espresso can. Want to use your Aeropress to make a coffee shot? Do it! Want to create a delicious cappuccino? Use your beloved press.
We don’t judge how our coffee is brewed as long as it tastes delicious! We love the coffee that the Aeropress creates, and we love the coffee that an expensive espresso maker creates. We hope you do too!
If you are a serious Aeropress user then you surely would love to be able to make delicious crema from your press. We have done some research on the subject and gathered our findings in our article on creating crema with the Aeropress.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr/Demion
One of the main qualities of espresso is the creamy foam called crema which is produced when espresso is brewed.
The Aeropress is commonly praised as the best press coffee and espresso maker. We did an article on creating espresso with the Aeropress and the biggest difference between an espresso maker and the Aeropress is that the Aeropress doesn’t normally create crema. We have to emphasize that the method outlined here is for people who are willing to go the extra mile to get exactly the coffee they want. For most people going the automated route such as using an automatic coffee maker with grinder will provide more consistent results.
Crema is created when several requirements are met. Below are all the things needed to create crema.
Can the Aeropress Produce Crema?
The short answer is YES! The Aeropress can create crema when the correct techniques are used. The above requirements can be met through various techniques.
Use our tips on meeting the needed criteria to have your Aeropress creating crema.
We hope that you find success brewing creama with the Aeropress. If you have any suggestions or techniques, please leave them in the comments below.