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Day #13 - Coffee 101

Picara Vassallo

Day #13- Coffee 101

I was a teenage barista.  It sounds like some kind of confession.  But, it was the perfect job for me at the time.  I loved coffee - the smell, the taste, the variety of beans, and of course the buzz.  As the years went on, I started to feel funny after drinking coffee. My stomach wasn’t handling it well and I sometimes felt hung over after drinking it. I couldn’t figure out what the deal was so I switched to green tea and figured my coffee days were behind me. 

Then, I went to Costa Rica for a yoga retreat.  Each morning, they had fresh roasted coffee brewing.  And when I say fresh, I mean I could see the land where the beans were growing across the street.  I couldn’t help myself - I drank it and it was so clean, fresh and I felt a light buzz but not those funny feelings I had been having back in the states. I brought that coffee home and squeezed every cup I could out of that bag of beans.  But, when it was gone, I couldn’t go back to the average java that most coffee shops were serving - it gave me all of those strange feelings again.

I gave coffee up again for a while until I found a few amazing coffee shops that were getting premo beans, grinding on site, and brewing properly.  The difference was pretty profound - I was getting all the benefits of the coffee but none of the weird side effects.

Speaking of benefits, what’s so great about coffee?  There are a number of benefits! Coffee is an incredible source of antioxidants that are very well absorbed, caffeinated coffee seems to benefit Parkinson’s patients, and it may help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Coffee consumption is linked with lower rates of depression and suicide, and it may help protect women from skin cancer.  Studies are showing improved athletic performance from coffee because of it’s ability to increase fatty acids into the blood stream which get utilized as fuel.  Also, there’s a study that shows coffee can reduce your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.  

That being said, coffee can be filled with pesticides, mycotoxins (toxic mold), and other chemicals from poor transportation, storage or roasting processes.  This explains why I’d sometimes feel hung over after coffee.  I’m allergic to mold and sensitive to chemicals in general. 

How do you find the coffee with the benefits and less of the drawbacks?

First, choose a responsible producer who is transparent about their coffee. I very much like Dave Aspry’s Bulletproof Coffee beans.  He’s gone to great lengths to make sure that the beans are properly dried and roasted to minimize mycotoxins.  His basic blend is fresh and delicious.  For some reason, I don’t find his decaf to be as enjoyable despite the fact that he uses a Swiss Water Process, which doesn’t use chemicals to decaffeinate the beans.  For decaf and for other varieties of beans, I head over to Terroir Coffee which was created by George Howell.  Years ago, he founded Coffee Connection in New England which he sold to Starbucks back in the 90‘s. After that, he spent the next few years traveling the world looking for the best coffee, which you can order directly from his website. Due to his meticulous standards, you might have to wait for a certain date to get the specific beans that you want.  This means that it’s as fresh as what I drank in Costa Rica.  And, their incredible selection means you can get a coffee that’s got flavors from nutty, chocolate and caramel to citrus, berry, and floral. 

How you brew your coffee will also make a difference in the flavor and possibly the way that your digestive system handles your coffee.  I personally use an aeropress or cold brew my coffee.  These allow for less acidity in your coffee and therefore less gastrointestinal distress

My tendency is to drink coffee black, but if I want to change it up I make it Bulletproof with raw goat butter, blended in my vitamix for a nice frothy warm mug of coffee “with cream.”   

If you are the type who gets their java on the go, search for places that focus on organic, fair trade, coffees and brewing methods that are per cup utilizing a Clover system, chemex, aeropress, or cold brewing methods.  You may have to try some different shops but it will be worth it.  Places making great coffee will have knowledgable staff.  If they can’t tell you where the coffee is from or how it’s brewed, you probably aren’t getting very good coffee.

While I love coffee, it’s still not a daily beverage for me.  I don’t need the caffeine buzz (I’m pretty alert first thing in the morning and coffee will make look like this) and I’m not addicted to it.  So, I left it on the diet list so I can enjoy it from time to time when I feel moved to.  If you are completely attached to your morning caffeine, it might be wise to take a break for a few days. Try tea or yerba mate instead and see if you feel different.  Try getting a higher quality coffee and see if perhaps you feel better, stronger, and clearer. If you are going to drink something ever day, make it as delicious and nutritious as you can.  You deserve it.