So how safe is – Coffee?

Recently coffee took over from tea as the second most popular beverage in the world (behind water) and it is the second most traded commodity (behind oil).

It is one of those foods that is either loved or not and nearly everyone has tasted it, but is it safe and where does it come from anyway?

Safety

As coffee is served hot, sometimes boiling hot, it is unlikely to support the growth of food poisoning bacteria. However, the beans, cup, milk and equipment could all be contaminated and this could make the coffee unsafe.

As in all food situations, it is essential to keep all surfaces that come in contact with the food clean and sanitised.

Cleaning should always be done to what is called the visibly clean standard. This simply means that after cleaning, which could use a good soap or specifically designed chemicals, there is no sign of any food or other material.

Sanitising can be as simple as using vinegar or lemon juice to kill bacteria on the surfaces after cleaning, or specific chemicals could be used.

Good hygiene is the key to preventing contamination. This includes the cleaning and sanitising, but also involves washing hands when required. the best method to use for washing hands is the 20/20 Rule. 20 seconds of washing the whole hand surface with a good soap, rinsing off with running water and then drying for 20 seconds with paper towel.

Caffeine

Coffee is often associated with getting people moving as it contains potentially high amounts of caffeine, which is a stimulant.

Large intakes of caffeine are recognised as being potentially dangerous, but it would take consumption of many cups of coffee daily to reach that level. An Espresso has the highest amount of caffeine but as it is so strong, most people do not drink many of them in a day, so the total caffeine consumption is really no health risk.

However the other types of coffee are more of a health risk as they are not as concentrated and people will drink more of them in a day as a result.

The recommended daily number of cups of coffee will vary depending upon the type of coffee but it is recommended by health authorities worldwide that the daily consumption of caffeine be less than 400mg.

Quality

Like most foods, the more someone has of it the more refined their taste becomes. Coffee is exactly the same. For some a simple instant no name brand coffee is just fine and for others the only coffees to drink are the Kopi luwak or the Black Ivory (the most expensive coffee beans in the world).

A cup of coffee at it's simplest is water run over some coffee beans and then served in a cup with or without milk or other ingredients, but it is way more than that to those who are coffee fans.

There are many factors which contribute to the taste, aroma and consistency of a cup of coffee, and books have been written about each of them, but in summary they are;

  • Where the coffee beans come from
  • How they were grown and the weather at the time
  • The type of coffee beans
  • The roasting process
  • The storage of the roasted beans
  • The water temperature
  • The brewing process
  • The type and operation of the coffee machine
  • The brewing time
  • The milk temperature and amount
  • Other ingredients; eg whiskey for Irish Coffees
  • The person making the coffee

A Barista is a person who is specially trained to make all forms of coffee, from Espresso to Cappuccinos and everything in between. It has reached such a skill level that there are now international competitions to determine the best Barista in the world. These people are almost artists and the designs they can make on the top of coffees are amazing, from logos to any shape you can imagine.

Coffee machines come in many forms and they have now found their way out of restaurants and cafes and into workplaces and homes. A price of $5000 or more for a coffee machine is not unusual, even for home use. The first Cappuccino machine was brought to Australia in 1953.

A recent advance to the coffee industry have been the machines and pods which produce high end flavours without the hassles of using a traditional machine. These are now very popular, and the machines can even be brought from the supermarket when doing the weekly shopping.

There are essentially nine types of coffee, all based on the first type, the Espresso (which means "pressed coffee" in Italian);

  1. Espresso Macchiato - with whipped cream on top
  2. Espresso con Panna - with milk foam on top
  3. Caffe Latte - with both steamed milk and a little milk foam on top
  4. Flat White - with steamed milk
  5. Cafe Brave - with Steamed half and half (1/2 milk and 1/2 water) and milk foam on top
  6. Cappuccino - with Steamed milk and lots of milk foam
  7. Caffe Mocha -  with Chocolate syrup, steamed milk and whipped cream on top
  8. Americano - with water

Nutrition

A 240mL cup of black coffee contains the following;

  • Up to 300mg of caffeine (average is 90-100mg)
  • Vitamin B2 - 11% of DI (Daily Intake)
  • Vitamin B5 - 6% of DI
  • Vitamin B1 - 2% of DI
  • Vitamin B3 - 2% of DI
  • Folate - 1% of DI
  • Manganese - 3% of DI
  • Potassium - 3% of DI
  • Magnesium - 2% of DI
  • Phosphorus - 1% of DI
  • High in antioxidants

Bits and Pieces

  • Instant coffee was invented in 1906
  • The word "coffee" comes from the Arabic " qa Whawal bun" (meaning "wine of the bean")
  • 80% of the coffee drunk in Australia is instant but decreasing.
  • Australians drink around 5 billion cups of coffee annually
  • New Yorkers drink  more coffee than anywhere else.
  • Brazil is the world's biggest producer
  • The coffee bean is actually found inside a bright red berry
  • Originally the beans were mixed with fat to produce energy balls and eaten not drunk
  • Coffee is the most recognised aroma in the world
  • 70% of the coffee drunk is of the Arabica variety and the remainder is Robusta
  • All coffee beans grow in what is called the "Bean Belt" - the area between the two Tropics (Capricorn and Cancer)
  • Robusta coffee beans have around twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica
  • There is a coffee flavoured Pez
  • Coffee bean trees are cultivated to grow to only 10metres high to allow for easy harvesting, but can grow much higher
  • The beans are roasted to around 260C (500F).
  • Kopi luwak coffee beans sell for around US$ 3000 per kilogram because the beans have been partly processed by going through the digestive tract of  the Civet (a Vietnamese Weasel) before collection.
  • Black Ivory coffee beans have gone through the digestive tract of Asian elephants before collection and sell for  about US$ 70 for six cups worth of coffee.

If you have found all these Coffee facts interesting, why not go to www.fivehundredfoodfacts.com and pick up your FREE copy of 'Five Hundred Foodie Facts".

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