What’s the Scoop on Coffee?

What is Coffee?

Coffee typically refers to the drink made from the roasted beans of a coffee tree. The two main coffee trees used in the commercial industry are Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora. Coffea arabica represents about 70% of the world’s coffee production, and it tends to be higher in price and lower in caffeine. The other most common type, Coffea canephora, makes up 30% of the world’s market and is used mainly for blends and instant coffees. It has a more distinctive taste than arabica and around 50-60% more caffeine. Roasting the beans brings out the aroma and flavor and readies them to be ground and brewed. 

There are a variety of ways to prepare and serve coffee. A typical “cup” of coffee is considered to be from 6-8 ounces. The table below shows the size, ounce amount, and caffeine content for different preparation methods of coffee. 

Coffee can also be served “decaffeinated” (i.e., without the “energy” ingredient, caffeine) while keeping the taste and smell at their original levels. Four methods of decaffeinating coffee exist today: indirect solvent process, direct solvent process, Swiss water process, and carbon dioxide process. Indirect and direct solvent processes use the FDA approved chemicals methylene chloride or ethyl chloride. The Swiss water process uses the natural way, with water, and the carbon dioxide process uses carbon dioxide to remove the caffeine from the coffee beans. Decaffeinated coffee still contains 2-4 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup.

Type of Coffee Size (ounces) Caffeine Content (mg)
Brewed 8 95-200
Brewed single-serve varieties 8 75-150
Espresso, restaurant-style 1 45-75
Instant 8 27-173
Specialty drink (latte or mocha) 8 63-175


What Should You Know about Drinking Coffee?

While coffee is a complex plant with many different features, one of its active ingredients (famous for making you active) is caffeine. Drinking coffee, particularly because of its caffeine content, may be of concern for some health conditions or situations. However, despite potential concerns, studies show that drinking 1-5 cups of coffee per day may prove beneficial for your health and does not cause increased risk for death.  Chlorogenic acid and other antioxidant substances may be the active ingredients in coffee associated with lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Although it is not necessarily recommended that everyone switch from their Earl Grey tea to a cup of java (coffee), some studies have found that coffee may provide some benefit.

Current Recommendations

Currently, no U.S. Dietary Guidelines exist for the exact amount each person should or should not be drinking. For the casual enjoyer of this brew, a general guideline is to reduce the amount if experiencing signs of drinking too much, such as tremors, sleeping problems, feeling stressed, increased heart rate, or feeling uncomfortable.

Additional Tips

Specialty coffee-based drinks are common, but they can be high in sugar, fat, and calories. For those who are not black coffee purists, these can be enjoyed as a healthier treat by choosing low-fat milk options, sugar-free syrups, or smaller portion sizes. If you are concerned about how much caffeine or how many calories you are consuming, fill your coffee mug up with water and then pour it into a liquid measuring cup to see how many ounces it holds. Most hold 16 –20 ounces or more, which is 2 or more cups of coffee. To see if drinking coffee may be enjoyable and beneficial for your lifestyle and health needs, try making and experimenting with your own coffee drinks at home. It will also be cheaper! More information on this topic can be found on Nebraska Extension’s website. Get ready to celebrate, National Coffee Day is September 29, 2019! 

Visit our homepage at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 765.653.8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.

Upcoming Events

September 25 – ServSafe, 9am, Putnam County Hospital 

September 28 – Fall Forestry Workshop, 9am-3pm, $5, Dogwood Springs, registration required

September 30 – Explore the World of Gardening!, 6pm, $15, Clay Co. Fairgrounds, registration required

October 6-12 National 4-H Week

October 16 – On Local Government Webinar, Extension Office, 11am

October 14 – Columbus Day, County offices including Extension closed

October 20-26 – State IEHA Week

November 1-2 – Extension Homemakers Craft Fair – Fairgrounds 

November 3 – Putnam 4-H Volunteer Recognition & Member Awards Program, 2pm, Fairgrounds

November 3 – College GOAL Sunday, FAFSA Help, Ivy Tech Greencastle, 2-4 pm

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