Life is full of weird and wonderful myths and old wives’ tales; some make life more exciting and some, if believed, can get in the way of enjoying our lives.
Given that coffee is so widely consumed around the globe, there is a surprising amount of myths surrounding the beverage that are mistakenly believed to be true. Don’t get me wrong, before I immersed myself in the world of coffee I too believed many coffee myths. However, now that I am better informed, it’s time I ground out a few of these inconvenient un-truths and extract the real facts about our favourite brew.
Espresso contains more caffeine than filter coffee
First up is the notion that espresso contains more caffeine than filter coffee. Without a doubt this is one of the most common misconceptions. Without going into too much technical detail the level of caffeine in any coffee, regardless of the brewing method, is affected by the type of beans used, the roast profile, brew time, grind level, water temperature and so on, you get the point.
If we consider the level of caffeine on a per fluid ounce basis, then yes, there certainly is more caffeine per fluid ounce in a shot of espresso than a cup of filter coffee and that is why in some sense this is true. However, when we look at it in the context of the complete beverage being consumed, there is actually more caffeine in a cup of filter coffee.
The average shot of espresso (using freshly ground Arabica beans) contains approximately 50 – 70 mg of caffeine where as an 8oz cup of filter coffee contains somewhere in the region of 65 to 120 mg of caffeine.
I could go on for a long time about the variables that affect just how much caffeine makes it into your coffee cup but I will address that in greater depth in a later post. For now, the basic answer is that the average shot of espresso does not contain more caffeine than the average cup of filter coffee.
It is best to store coffee in the fridge
Storing your coffee beans correctly is necessary to keep your coffee beans fresh and flavoursome. There seems to be a lot of confusion about how and where to store coffee and I am often asked ‘is it true you should store your coffee in the fridge?’ Well, the simple answer is, no. It is important to keep your coffee away from air, moisture, heat and light (in that order of priority). Although the fridge will keep it away from heat and light, it will be exposed to the moisture in the fridge. The condensation that forms in the bag of coffee beans will destroy your freshly roasted coffee before you have time to drink it.
If you want to keep your coffee as fresh as possible, buying a container with an airtight seal would be a worthwhile investment. At the very least you should make sure the bag is air tight by rolling the top down, squeezing out all of the air (coffees no.1 enemy) and clamping it tightly shut with an elastic band or peg and then keeping it in a cool dark place.
Coffee cures a hangover
Oh how I wish this one were true! Many of us have been looking for the hangover cure that works, and as nice as a good brew is the morning after the night before, I’m afraid to say it will not cure your hangover. The effect of a nice coffee may temporarily make you feel a bit better and provide you with a moment of pleasure but do be careful because the caffeine may exacerbate your already dehydrated body and irritate your upset stomach further.
A coffee to sober you up at the end of the night or just before you go to bed isn’t really a good idea either, it may make you feel a bit more alert but it will not sober you up anymore than any other non-alcoholic beverage and may make it more difficult to have the good night’s sleep that you need to recover from your evening on the booze.
If you drink coffee on a regular basis, it may be a good idea to have your usual cup in the morning otherwise you may also suffer from a further headache due to withdrawal from your usual caffeine intake on top of your hangover.
All that said, a good coffee is an enjoyable experience and will not make things much worse so it is fine to enjoy a nice coffee (as always) but don’t rely on it to cure your hangover and have a good amount of water with it to prevent the caffeine from further dehydrating you.
Coffee causes heart disease and other health issues
A common coffee conception is that consuming coffee regularly is not good for you and can increase chances of serious illnesses, such as heart disease.
It’s a shame the beverage we all love so much comes with such a stigma – especially when there is so little evidence to back it up. In fact, there were a number of studies carried out in the nineties that found no link between coffee consumption and heart disease:
- A 10 year-long study by Willet et al (1996) with a sample of 85,000 women found no increased risk for women who drank six or more cups of coffee a day of developing heart disease
- The same is suggested for men in an earlier study by Diedrich et al (1990) on 45,000 men which provided no link between heart disease and those consuming four or more coffees per day
- Research by Warren and Thompson (1994) also suggested that coffee consumption provides no major risks factors for heart disease.
As well as having no link with heart disease, coffee has also been found to have many positive effects on health, with coffee consumers being shown to be less likely to develop diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, liver cirrhosis and colon cancer.
As with anything we consume, it is best to drink coffee in moderation to avoid any potential health risks. A great way to keep coffee consumption at a sensible level is to seek out high quality coffees that are well farmed, processed and brewed which can be enjoyed and savoured as opposed to simply grabbing a cup for the caffeine top-up.
And there’s plenty more to come
This post will be updated on an ongoing basis with more common coffee myths being identified and explained so be sure to check back for more soon. If you have any uncertainties in your world of coffee, feel free to comment below and we will be more than happy to explain it in this post.
In the mean time, keep enjoying your coffee!