Love and Other Drugs

Catching up on a quarter of Biology and Chemistry almost always results in a headache. But thankfully my old faithful for times like these when I could use a pick-me-up, and topic (drug) of the day: COFFEE.

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The SixSeven Roasters’ lemonade, err I mean, coffee, stand; picture taken on my way home from Starbucks…oops.

My friends started a coffee roasting and brewing “shop” outside their house in the crazy college town we call home, Isla Vista. Though the business was short-lived, his home-roasted coffee tasted truly amazing. He bought raw green coffee beans and roasted them on his own stove. The roasting process influences the taste and aroma of the bean by altering it physically and chemically. Told you I’d get to the science thing…

As moisture is lost by applying heat to the beans, they decrease in weight and increase in volume, resulting in a lowered density. Different varieties of beans vary in moisture and density and therefore roast at different temperatures, but the average temperature for roasting is about 392°F. The high heat breaks down the beans’ starches, changing them into simple sugars, which caramelize the beans resulting in the familiar brown color. Then how is coffee calorie-less if there are sugars, you ask? Well, sucrose is lost during the roasting process as it decomposes at about 367°F. Other aromatic oils and acids break down as well, and other oils develop, and this new integration of chemicals leads to unique aromas and flavors.

An ongoing 22-year study by the Harvard School of Public Health is quick to point out the benefits of drinking coffee, stating it resulted in a 20% decrease in prostate cancer, as well as reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and Parkinson’s disease, to name a few.

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Almost too pretty to drink – Urth Caffe, Santa Monica.

As you can see, I am a strong coffee advocate, and really no health warnings and studies will change my mind about it. It gets me through the day loyally and faithfully; add a splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream and it cures everything I’ve got. Cheers.

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