Did you know that coffee is a mixture of more than 1600 components, including carbohydrates, fats, vitamins (B3, E), minerals (potassium, magnesium), alkaloids (caffeine), organic compounds and dietary fiber? Coffee is one of the richest foods in anti-oxidants such as polyphenols and mainly chlorogenic and caffeic acids.
Coffee is one of the most researched products. The main reason for such extensive research activity is that coffee is the second most consumed drink after water, and that almost every third person drinks at least one cup of coffee a day. The desire to understand how coffee affects our health and the risk level involved in its consumption has, therefore, generated such a huge research momentum.
Moreover, the economic aspects were the driving force of research among many companies. The coffee market is enormous in size, and its trading volume is one of the largest in the food industries, and hence the urge to develop quality coffee types, insects-resistant and bearing large crops.
Overall, study in the coffee industry focuses on three major topics: chemical composition of coffee, including flavorings, health implications of coffee drinking, and coffee growing including genetic engineering that aims to improve it.
How Tasty is Your Coffee? It’s Up to the Coffee Experts, Humidity and Oxygen!
Understanding the composition of coffee aroma – which is an underlying fundamental in understanding and safeguarding the coffee quality – required the development of sophisticated analytical machinery and complex analytical methods to identify very low-concentrated components, in order to evaluate their impact on the aroma quality. One of the problems of coffee production is the need to retain uniform, sensory quality of the product, despite the fact that the raw material comprising it, namely green coffee, changes in the course of the year. This role is assigned to technologists and sensory experts, who adjust the roasting conditions to the desired sensory nature of the end-product. Today, the use of analytical machinery that simulate the human nose and tongue is growing steadily. However, since this type of machinery is still relatively young, and their sensitivity level still low, they can’t replace the human expert.
The need to preserve coffee freshness is the subject matter of extensive research work. Due to its complex chemical composition, coffee is highly sensitive to oxygen and humidity, and this requires packaging technology and materials with suitable qualities. Such demands, like the demand for “green technologies”, engage many researchers around the world in the development of “uniquely smart” packaging materials.
In my previous post I described the importance attributed by commercial and research firms (both under the same roof sometimes) to studying coffee and its impact on our life. Research – including chemical examination, health impacts and improved coffee types – is at its advanced stages and has so far produced impressive results like the simulation of the human tongue through technological means. But how healthy is coffee for us?
Coffee and Health – Myths and Research
Coffee contains caffeine, anti-oxidants and other ingredients that impact positively on our health. Many myths have been linked to coffee and its affect on hour health: it is thought to be the cause of every possible disease, from cancer to hair loss, from an addictive substance to a fattening and weight-loss agent at the same time. Coffee is, effectively being “persecuted” by every researcher, dietician or physician who don’t think twice before speaking against this black beverage.
All these “descriptions” are based, of course, on rumors for the most part rather than on established research findings. Today, due to the massive and comprehensive research activity carried out in this domain, we have come to know that coffee is not harmful but beneficial to our health. Researchers focus on trying to discover the medically active substances and their mechanism. Since there is still more to these mechanisms than meets the eye, it will take many more scientific studies until the scientific/medical community can crack the chemical code of coffee and unveil the highest-impact substances and their mechanisms.
Excellent Coffee or Coffee-Made-Excellent?
Coffee is one of the most important agricultural industries and a major source of income for millions of families worldwide. Therefore, coffee growing as well as improved coffee types are the topics engaging numerous researches in coffee-growing companies and in countries that provide know-how, processing and irrigation practices for this industry. In the past, coffee was grown under relatively primitive means and conditions, and coffee types evolved depending on the climate, soil and nutrients available naturally in a given area.
The crops, coffee quality and the life span of a coffee bean plant were at Heavens mercy. Today, the coffee industry is undergoing far-reaching changes both technologically and scientifically. All growing stages are constantly monitored with controlled irrigation and automatic fertilization, providing plants with the quantities and durations required. The quality of coffee beans and life span of coffee bean plants are today at their pinnacle point.
Countries such as India and Brazil invest enormous resources in R&D in the coffee industry. Israel is today a key developer of computerized irrigation and fertilization systems for agriculture, with such systems already applied successfully in many coffee growing countries. R&D centers in India, Brazil, France and Israel are world leaders in genetic research of plants and in utilization of genetic engineering and cross-breads in a bid to develop unique-qualities coffee types. Extensive research is also targeting the development of natural extermination of pests.
The cup of coffee we prepare for ourselves every morning is not just another brewed beverage. It is the end-result of vast research and development activity. It is evident that the coffee quality, mode of preparation and serving only improve and change once researchers apply “out of the box thinking” (or out of the coffee jar thinking) and impressive technological creativity.