Is There A Best Coffee Type You Should Be Drinking?
By Tyler Woodward
Cold brew, espresso, dark roast, light roast, organic, with so many types of coffee available today it’s almost impossible to decide what to order. So we’ve made it easy, here’s your guide to choosing the perfect cup.
Known for its energy boosting properties, coffee’s been around for centuries. With modern-day innovations, there’s a seemingly endless list of options today, so let’s narrow it down to the basics…
1. The Roast:
Within a cup of coffee and the coffee bean you’ll find a number of bioactive compounds in addition to vitamins and minerals that are responsible for all of coffee’s effects. These include:
- Chlorogenic Acid
Depending on how the coffee is roasted can affect how much of these compounds make it into your cup as well as the acidity of the coffee.
- Chlorogenic Acid - A number of studies have found that the darker the coffee is roasted, the less antioxidants it contains, specifically chlorogenic acid (1, 2, 3)
- Caffeine - The effects of roasting on caffeine content is less conclusive . A number of studies have concluded that caffeine content did not significantly differ depending on the roast. Other studies have found that darker roasts have more caffeine, while some studies found lighter roasts to have higher caffeine content.
- Niacin - Luckily, what dark roasts lose in antioxidants they gain in vitamin content. Darker roasts have been found to have up to 4X as much niacin (vitamin B3) compared to light roasts.
- Mineral Content - Roasting does not alter the mineral content of the coffee, this is primarily determined by the soil the coffee is grown from.
Takeaway - If you’re looking for a boost of antioxidants go for a light roast or even green coffee, but if you want some extra vitamins go for a darker roast or go for a medium roast for a little bit of each!
Read More: Coffee To Drink Or Not To Drink
2. The Bean:
While coffee beans are believed to have originated in Ethiopia, today coffee beans are sourced from all over the world including: Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Honduras. Despite the thousands of mile differences between these places, the composition of these beans themselves do not seem to change much.
This study looked at a variety of coffee beans sourced from a number of countries throughout the world. The study found small, but generally insignificant differences in mineral content, but the studies also did not control for mineral content in the water used.
The more important distinguishing factor is organic vs conventionally-grown coffee beans. Another study found, “ Fresh organic coffee beans showed a higher content of total phenolic, phenolic acids as well as flavonoids than conventional coffee beans” (Krol et. al). The same study also found that caffeine content also increased in organic coffee beans during storage compared to conventional coffee beans.
Arguably more importantly, organic coffee is grown without the pesticides that can coat conventionally grown beans. While most research points to these chemicals being “cooked off” during the roasting process, the farmers themselves are exposed to extremely high levels of these toxic chemicals.
Another consideration is mold-growth on the coffee beans and grounds. Coffee is extremely prone to molding, particularly when stored improperly, which can result in the growth of mycotoxins aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin A (1, 2) Mycotoxins are a number of compounds that are produced when mold is able to grow on the coffee beans themselves, Aflatoxin B1 is well-established to be carcinogenic, while the jury is still out on the toxicity of ochratoxin A and what amount of mycotoxins must be present to exert a harmful effect.
A number of brands have launched myco-toxin free coffee or low mycotoxin coffee, but it’s not confirmed whether these growing processes actually make any significant difference. Personally, I recommend purchasing whole coffee beans, rather than pre-ground coffee because of the increased likelihood of mold growth on ground coffee if stored improperly.
Read More: The Importance Of Micronutrients
3. The Pour:
Lastly, we’ve got the pour itself. When it comes to your pour of coffee the main difference is how concentrated the coffee is. A good rule of thumb is the less water used to make the coffee, the more remnants (antioxidants, flavonoids, caffeine, vitamins and minerals) of the coffee beans will make it in. The smaller the surface area of the ground coffee, the more water will interact with the coffee grounds and pull out the nutrients contained within.
For example, espresso is the most concentrated form of coffee, followed by finely ground coffee, and coarsely ground. (Instant coffee is typically the least concentrated). Using a variety of different temperatures from cool to hot water like in a pour-over may also allow for more of the coffee constituents to make it into a cup.
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