I am definitely a coffee addict! I have to have it every morning and usually a cup in the afternoon. How do I like my coffee? Black with cinnamon on top, or a Starbucks Americano with a splash of soy milk, cinnamon on top! YUUMMM!!! So I wanted to tackle coffee because it is my feel good drug of choice! I’ve done some research and found some good news for the coffee lover!
Did you KNOW that one cup of coffee is more dense in antioxidants than a serving of blueberries. And that coffee is the primary source of antioxidants in the American diets?! ( that’s pretty bad! ) For consumption you want to make sure to have between 2 -4 cups. At this amount it can actually count toward our total daily fluid intake. Anymore and it will will dehydrate you!
First of all let’s refresh our coffee vocab, shall we? I need to stress that the healthy coffee beverage pertains to black coffee and espresso! Although a sweet coffee is a nice treat from time to time;)
Espresso Bar Drinks
Espresso, steamed milk, and foam, not sweetened in any way unless you ask for syrup or sugar in it.
Like a latte, only much more foam; normally half milk half foam, unless “wet” or “dry” is specified (see below). This is also not sweetened, and an “iced cappuccino” doesn’t really exist at Starbucks. Since iced drinks are made without foam, an iced cappuccino is the same as an iced latte.
Basically, a vanilla latte with a bit less vanilla and extra foam, and with gooey, yummy caramel sauce drizzled on top. If it doesn’t taste sweet enough when you first try it, mix it up a bit. If it’s still not sweet enough, ask for more vanilla — caramel sauce doesn’t really dissolve well, so by the time it strongly flavors the drink there’s way too much. Iced caramel macchiatos, like hot ones, have the shots and caramel poured on top, so when you get it it won’t look mixed at all. Just make sure you stir it before you drink. Macchiato, by the way, is pronounced “mah-kee-YAH-toe.”
Espresso diluted with hot water until it’s roughly the strength of regular coffee. An Americano will usually have one more shot than a latte of the same size. Sometimes if the regular coffee you ordered hasn’t finished brewing and you don’t want to wait for it, the barista may offer you an Americano instead.
Espresso and steamed milk mixed with chocolate and served with whipped cream on top. Despite being chocolatey, these are not terribly sweet; if you don’t want to taste the espresso, ask for flavor syrup or sugar to be added, or try one of the other mocha drinks instead. Also, these are not blended. If you’re looking for one of those milkshake-looking things, you want a mocha Frappuccino.
Espresso and steamed milk mixed with white chocolate syrup and served with whipped cream. These are a lot sweeter than regular mochas, but also a bit less healthy.
A mocha with Valencia (orange) syrup and an extra espresso shot added, with whipped cream and orangey sprinkles on top. These taste like the chocolate oranges you can buy in various stores. This doesn’t appear on the menu as often as it used to, so newer baristas may not be familiar with the exact recipe.
Cinnamon Spice Mocha
A mocha with cinnamon syrup added, served with foam and cinnamon on top rather than whipped cream. They have less chocolate than regular mochas, to keep them from being like Mocha Valencias (i.e., so sweet that an extra shot has to be added to balance it). This has also been off the menu for some time, so newer baristas may give you a blank look if you order it.
Toffee Nut Latte
A latte flavored with the new Toffee Nut syrup, which tastes, well, toffee-like. Similar to a combination of hazelnut and vanilla. Served with whipped cream and crunchy toffee sprinkles. While originally introduced as a winter seasonal drink, it seems to be a permanent addition to the menu.
Just espresso. A solo espresso is a single shot, which is a bit less than an ounce. A doppio espresso is two shots. A triple espresso is three, and a quad shot is four (and only for the brave).
Espresso dropped into a cup of milk foam, and only foam. Like a small, extremely dry cappuccino. These are ordered not by cup size, but by the number of shots.
Espresso Con Panna
Espresso in a big squirt of whipped cream. Ordered by the number of shots, rather than cup size.
Misto / Cafe au Lait
A drink consisting of half coffee, half steamed milk and a bit of foam. It can be made decaf, nonfat, etc. “Misto” is the Starbucks name, cafe au lait is a more generic term.
* taken from http://www.quicksilverweb.net/sbucks/sbcharts.htm
The Caffeine Buzz
So the question remains, why do we feel so darn good when we have coffee? To put in simplest terms, caffeine hijacks the receptor molecules for a neurochemical in the brain called adenosine. It is the job of adenosine to accumlate during activity, attach to brain cell receptors and bring on drowsiness at the end of the day so that we rest easy and sleep well. When we sleep these adenosine levels drop, allowing the body to wake up.
So when this “adenosine” is blocked by CAFFEINE in the mind and the body, the body wakes up. Blood vesesles, constrict, and sugar is released from the stomach. Thats when we feel full of energy. YAY FOR CAFFEINE.
Why Caffeine is good for us?
Studies have shown improvements in functional tests of mental skills and physical reflexes when moderate amounts of caffeine have been consumed. Postmenopausal women who drank one to three cups of coffee daily were 24 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease when compared to their coffee-free peers. Moderate amounts of caffeine have been shown to decrease the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Also coffee drinks had lower levels of enzymes that are markers of liver damage. Moderate amounts may protect against brain health as well!
Coffee and Athletic Success
Professional athletes have used caffeine to aid their performance, especially during late afternoon workouts or as a means of getting “psyched up” for competition. While one or two cups of coffee may provide a short-term burst of energy, it usually takes somewhat higher levels of caffeine to produce a significant improvement in muscular strength. Caffeine does increase levels of circulating fat in the blood that can be used for energy, but we now know that when caffeine improves alertness and endurance, it does so by blocking the effects of adenosine that can slow down reflexes and diminish alertness.
Many active people can consume caffeine at levels equivalent to two to four cups of regular coffee without experiencing harsh side effects. Recent research suggests that the phytochemicals in coffee may exert a protective effect against colon cancer; so drinking coffee to boost endurance, alertness, and performance could have additional benefits. Those with caffeine sensitivity can consume decaffeinated coffee and still enjoy the health benefits derived from the dozens of phytonutrients that remain after the decaffeinating process.
Caffeine and Exercise of Body and Brain
The conversion of fat to energy is about 30 percent more efficient when caffeine is consumed prior to exercise. While the body burns fat, it reduces its reliance on glycogen, glucose, and amino acids so that blood sugar levels remain higher for longer. But, even sedentary people can reap the mental benefits of caffeine. That’s why coffee is popular among students, computer programmers and think-tankers. The brain functions best on its preferred fuel, glucose, and higher blood sugar levels facilitate thinking and the mind-body connection.
My Verdict - ENJOY YOUR COFFEE! Just watch the cream and sugar!
Caffeine Sources in Your Pantry and Medicine Cabinet
Drip, regular 106-164 mg/5 oz.
Percolated, regular 93-134 mg/5 oz.
Instant, regular 47-68 mg/5 oz.
Decaffeinated 2-5 mg/5 oz.
* Information taken from Fitness RX Magazine for Men (Volume 6, Number 1): January 2008 and Fitness RX Magazine for Women (website)