Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. It is grown in more than 70 countries, the two main world producers being Brazil and Colombia. Canada’s climate does not allow coffee to be grown, but there is a lot of processing of imported beans. It is estimated that Canadians drink more than 15 billion cups of coffee per year. The average coffee consumer drinks three cups of coffee a day. Contrary to what one might think, coffee contains vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidant compounds.

Active ingredients and properties

Bioactive compounds
Coffee contains more than a dozen bioactive compounds, most of which are formed during the roasting process. Three of them are found in high concentrations and are important from a physiological point of view. These are caffeine, diterpene alcohols and phenolic compounds known for their antioxidant effects1.

  • Caffeine. This compound is by far the best characterized so far in coffee. In the United States, it is estimated that 75% of the caffeine consumed comes from coffee2. In Canada, this quantity has been estimated at 60%3. The rest comes from tea, chocolate, energy drinks, etc.The caffeine content of coffee varies depending on the type of beans, the roasting method and the method of coffee preparation (for more details, see our Caffeine sheet). Caffeine is known mainly for its stimulating effects4. In healthy adults, a small amount can increase alertness and concentration. In other people, however, it can cause undesirable biological effects such as insomnia, headaches, irritability and nervousness. According to Health Canada, in adults, moderate caffeine consumption (three cups of coffee per day) does not cause adverse effects, particularly with regard to behaviour (anxiety, attention span), cardiovascular health or cancer3.
  • Diterpene alcohols. Coffee beans naturally contain significant quantities of diterpene alcohols, including cafestol and kahweol. These compounds, present in coffee bean oils, are released when in contact with hot water. They would raise cholesterol levels5. Depending on the preparation method, the coffee will contain more or less diterpenes. For example, boiled coffee contains 1.2 mg to 18 mg of cafestol and kahweol per 100 ml while espresso coffee contains 0.2 mg to 4.5 mg. Filter coffee, on the other hand, contains practically none (from 0 mg to 0.1 mg).
  • Antioxidants. Coffee contains several antioxidant compounds. Given the frequency of its consumption, it can make a significant contribution to the antioxidant capacity of the diet. In this regard, a Norwegian study shows that coffee is the diet food that contributes the most to total antioxidant intake in this population. A study showed that the antioxidant capacity of plasma increases significantly following the ingestion of a single cup of filter coffee (200 ml).7 This suggests that coffee is likely to have a preventive effect on certain diseases due to its antioxidant power5. Among the antioxidant compounds in coffee are phenolic compounds, including some volatile substances produced during roasting. These volatile substances are attributed the characteristic smell of coffee.8,9
  • Phenolic compounds. Coffee contains large amounts of phenolic acids, including caffeic and chlorogenic acids. A 7 oz (about 200 ml) cup of coffee provides 70 mg to 350 mg of phenolic acid10. By comparison, blueberries, cherries, plums, apples and kiwi, which are the fruits richest in phenolic acids of the same family as coffee, contain from 10 mg to 230 mg per serving from 100 g to 200 g10. Several researchers believe that caffeic and chlorogenic acids are largely responsible for the antioxidant effect of coffee.6,7

Coffee contains significant amounts of lignans, phenolic compounds that are very common in plants. Lignans are converted into enterolignans by intestinal bacteria and then enter the bloodstream11. Lignans act as antioxidants and are thought to be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers in humans12.

Health effects of coffee

Discover our recipe for coffee with oats and almond milk.

Most of the data on the link between coffee consumption and the reduction of chronic diseases have been obtained from epidemiological studies. According to some researchers, these results should be interpreted with caution, as they may include methodological biases13. For example, the way in which the amount of coffee and caffeine consumed daily is calculated can vary greatly from one study to another (variation in the size of a cup of coffee, brewing time, type of beans used, etc.). In addition, some “confounding” factors such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, often associated with heavy coffee consumption, are not always well assessed.

It should be kept in mind that coffee is only one of the modulators of the risk of certain diseases. Despite some benefits related to its consumption, it remains prudent, in a public health context, to recommend moderation. This means, in more concrete terms, consuming three cups of coffee a day or 400 mg to 450 mg of caffeine a day. According to Health Canada, this quantity does not pose a risk to human health14.

Type 2 diabetes
The majority of epidemiological studies published to date indicate that coffee, consumed in large quantities, would reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A meta-analysis identified data from nine prospective studies involving nearly 200,000 participants. It shows that consuming six cups of coffee per day and more reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 35% compared to less than two cups per day15. Consuming four to six cups reduces the risk by 28%.

In addition, a recent literature review and meta-analysis showed that the risk of type 2 diabetes decreased to a maximum of 6 cups of coffee per day59.

It is not possible, on the basis of data from such studies, to propose a mechanism of action or to establish a cause-and-effect relationship. However, it has been hypothesized that chlorogenic acid in coffee may interfere with the action of an enzyme whose function is to release glucose into the blood16. Chlorogenic acid may also reduce intestinal absorption of glucose by blocking its transport to the intestinal membrane17. As for caffeine, it is not responsible for the beneficial effect of coffee since decaffeinated coffee also reduces the risk of type 218 diabetes.19

Clinical studies are rather divided on the effect of coffee consumption on some diabetes indicators. This is reported by the authors of a review article published in 200611. For example, there is some evidence that coffee may improve cell sensitivity to insulin and glucose metabolism following a meal or sweetened beverage. Other data indicate that coffee consumption would not affect fasting glucose or insulin concentrations and even markers of insulin sensitivity. Most of these studies were conducted over a short period of time (one day). Only randomized controlled clinical studies over longer periods of time will clearly establish the link between coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular diseases
The effect of coffee consumption on the risk of cardiovascular disease has been the subject of a very large number of studies over the past forty years, but the subject remains controversial. It is still difficult to clearly establish whether coffee is harmful or beneficial to heart health.

Coffee contains a multitude of chemical compounds whose effects may be opposite. Studies seem to show that the presence or absence of a protective effect may depend on the amount consumed. In addition, the way coffee is prepared (filter or boiled) is thought to influence cardiovascular risk1. The results of a meta-analysis of 14 studies show that boiled coffee, compared to filter coffee, increases total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels20. This increase is more significant in people with already high cholesterol. Boiled coffee contains high amounts of cafestol and kahweol. These two compounds are believed to be responsible for increasing cholesterol in the blood. The use of filter paper during coffee preparation significantly reduces coffee concentrations, since the filter captures most of the cafestol and kahweol5.

Coffee contains antioxidants and other substances that would help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people who consume filter coffee in a moderate way. At least that is what the authors of a review article published in 2007 reported21. A recent meta-analysis conducted in 2014 once again showed that moderate coffee consumption (3 to 5 cups per day) was inversely associated with cardiovascular risk58. It is mainly coffee polyphenols that would have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health1.

Caffeine, on the other hand, would not bring any benefit in this respect. It is even reported to have deleterious effects, according to some researchers1. A recent study has highlighted the major role of caffeine in increasing cardiovascular risk22. Caffeine is also thought to be associated with an increase in blood pressure, a cardiovascular risk factor. However, coffee consumption (which does not only contain caffeine) would not have a negative impact, probably because of the protective effect of its other compounds23,24.

In conclusion, it seems increasingly clear that a high consumption of unfiltered coffee (more than six cups a day) is harmful to the heart. However, moderate consumption of coffee, mainly filter coffee, could bring some benefits. This would be due, among other things, to the presence of antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols. The latter would counteract the harmful effects of caffeine and compounds found in coffee oil (cafestol and kahweol)1.

Epidemiological data suggest that coffee consumption is linked to a reduction in the risk of certain types of cancers, including breast, colorectal and gastric cancers.

Breast cancer data show that, in premenopausal women, consuming four or more cups of coffee per day reduces the risk of developing breast cancer by 40%25. In this study, however, the same association was not demonstrated in postmenopausal women or in women consuming less than four cups of coffee per day25. A genetic study published in 2006 shows that women with one of two genetic mutations that predispose to breast cancer and consume six or more cups of coffee per day are significantly less likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not consume coffee26.

However, a recent meta-analysis of the relationship between coffee consumption and breast cancer risk did not show any association except in women with non-hormone-dependent breast cancer where coffee consumption decreased the risk61.

Regarding the relationship between coffee and colorectal cancer risk, the authors of a meta-analysis27 mention that the data suggest that coffee consumption reduces this risk. However, they caution that the lack of consensus among the various epidemiological studies does not allow such a link to be established with certainty.

Finally, a recent meta-analysis published in 2013 showed that coffee consumption was inversely related to the risk of endometrial cancer60.

Liver diseases
Several studies show that coffee consumption is associated with a decreased risk of liver damage, particularly cirrhosis13 and alcoholic liver cirrhosis29. Some authors have suggested that this effect is due to caffeine30. Others associate the protective effect of coffee with its content of phenolic acids, antioxidant compounds that would act in concert with caffeine31.

A large prospective study, conducted on a cohort of more than 125,000 subjects, shows that the risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis is inversely related to coffee consumption. Heavy coffee drinkers (four cups or more per day) would be more protected than small drinkers (three cups or less per day)29. In this study, coffee consumption was also associated with a lower prevalence of high liver enzymes (markers of liver damage) in the blood. In a previous study, the same authors had shown a reduced risk of mortality from hepatic cirrhosis in coffee drinkers. The risk was reduced by 22% per cup of coffee consumed per day32.

Data from a US national survey, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, have linked high coffee consumption (more than two cups per day) to a lower risk of chronic liver disease among people at risk of liver problems33. Finally, the results of a meta-analysis of nine studies published between 2002 and 2007 show that coffee consumption (an increase of two cups per day) is associated with a 43% reduction in the risk of liver cancer34. It is important to note that these are epidemiological studies and that no mechanism of action could be found in these studies, which limits the interpretation of the results. In addition, even if coffee was hepatically protective, the best approach to reduce the risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver remains the reduction of alcohol consumption.

Coffee affects several processes involved in the formation of lithiasis or gallstones (commonly called “stones”). Epidemiological data show that coffee and caffeine have protective effects against the formation of gallstones, but these results are not unanimously accepted by the scientific community. While some authors report that high coffee consumption reduces the risk of gallstones, others report an increased risk with high consumption35.

A prospective survey conducted on a cohort of nearly 81,000 women followed over a 20-year period showed that the consumption of four or more cups of coffee per day is associated with a 25% reduction in the risk of cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder)36. In this study, a decreased risk of cholecystectomy was also observed with caffeine consumption, but not with decaffeinated coffee consumption.

A prospective study of more than 46,000 men shows a significant decrease in the risk of gallstones among those who consume four or more cups of coffee per day37. However, this protective role of coffee was not observed in all studies. For example, research conducted in Japanese men shows a prevalence of gallbladder disorders that is about twice as high among heavy consumers of coffee (more than five cups per day) or caffeine (more than 300 mg per day), compared to those who consume less than 100 mg per day38. Data from a study conducted in the United States from 1988 to 1994 in nearly 14,000 subjects showed that the prevalence of gallbladder disease is not associated with coffee consumption in either men or women39.

Several genetic and environmental factors can be associated with the formation of biliary lithiasis. The role of coffee or caffeine should be further analysed in order to better assess its importance in the incidence of this health problem.

Parkinson’s disease
Most major epidemiological studies show that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, particularly in humans13. The results of an important meta-analysis point in the same direction40. Recently, researchers analyzed data from approximately 6,700 subjects who participated in a prospective study over a 22-year period. They found that drinking ten cups or more of coffee per day reduced the risk of Parkinson’s disease by 74%. This decrease was 38% for people consuming four to nine cups of coffee per day, compared to those who did not. This association was even stronger among obese people41.

A recent literature review in 2013 showed that coffee consumption reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease. This effect was at its maximum at 3 cups per day62.

It appears that both genetic and environmental factors are associated with the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Oxidative stress could be one of the mechanisms involved in the evolution of the disease. Coffee, thanks to its antioxidant content, would provide some protection41.

Consumption of regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee would be associated with a decrease in the incidence of gout. Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in adult men. It is characterized by an increase in uric acid concentrations in the blood and is manifested by acute inflammatory attacks, often at the big toe. A recent 12-year prospective study of more than 45,000 North American men shows that increased coffee consumption reduces the risk of gout42. For example, people who consume four to five cups of coffee per day and those who consume more than six cups of coffee reduce their risk of suffering from gout by 40% and 59% respectively, compared to those who do not drink coffee.

A decrease in risk was also observed with decaffeinated coffee, but not with caffeine. This suggests that a substance other than caffeine (perhaps one or more antioxidant compounds) would play a role in the observed effect. A second prospective study, based on data from 14,000 participants representative of the American adult population, shows that consumption of coffee and decaffeinated coffee, but not caffeine, is associated with a significant decrease in the concentration of uric acid in the blood43.

These results are very interesting, but it should be kept in mind that these are epidemiological studies and that several important variables, known to influence the appearance of gout, could not be controlled. Only randomized and well-controlled clinical studies will determine whether coffee actually reduces the risk of gout.

Sports performance. Caffeine has been shown to have beneficial effects on sporting performance, in particular by increasing lipolysis and preserving glycogen reserves during exercise. Caffeine may also have possible effects on adrenaline, muscle contraction and the central nervous system by reducing feelings of fatigue and increasing endurance. Caffeine is believed to be effective during short efforts of very high intensity or endurance3. The impact is felt within one hour of ingestion. It is very important to check your tolerance before consuming it because each person may react differently. Indeed, some side effects such as irritability, tremors, gastrointestinal discomfort can occur in people who do not have a good tolerance to caffeine. An average intake of 3 mg of caffeine per kg body weight would be the optimal dose to achieve the desired effects.

Other properties

Is coffee antioxidant?Data not available
Does coffee have a high glycemic load?There is no glycemic load for coffee. The brewed coffee does not contain carbohydrates.

Most important nutrients

Magnesium. Espresso coffee is an excellent source of magnesium for women and a good source for men (men’s magnesium needs are higher than women’s). Magnesium is involved in bone development, protein building, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and the transmission of nerve impulses.

Vitamin B3. Espresso coffee is an excellent source of vitamin B3. Also known as niacin, vitamin B3 is involved in many metabolic reactions and particularly contributes to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol we ingest. It also collaborates in the DNA formation process, allowing normal growth and development.

Vitamin B2. Infused coffee and espresso coffee are good sources of vitamin B2 for women and sources for men (men’s needs for vitamin B2 are higher than women’s). Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and red blood cell formation.

Copper. Espresso coffee is a source of copper. As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used for tissue structure and repair). Several enzymes containing copper also contribute to the body’s defense against free radicals.

Pantothenic acid. Infused coffee is a source of pantothenic acid. Also known as vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme that allows the body to adequately use the energy from food intake. It is also involved in several stages of the manufacture of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin.

What is a “portion” of coffee worth?
Volume / weightBrewed coffee, 250 ml/250 gEspresso coffee, restaurant preparation, 100 ml/101 gRegular soluble coffee 250 ml/253 g
Proteins0,3 g0,1 g0,3 g
Carbohydrates0,0 g0,0 g0,9 g
Lipids0,0 g0,2 g0,0 g
Dietary fibres0,0 g0,0 g0,0 g

Source: Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File, 2007.

Fibre in the coffee?
Coffee beans are rich in dietary fibre. A certain amount would be found in the prepared coffee. At least that is what a group of Spanish researchers reported when they evaluated the soluble fibre content of different coffees52. Most nutrition facts tables indicate that coffee does not contain fibre. Rather, the data from this study show that espresso coffee, filter coffee and soluble coffee contain 0.65 g, 0.47 g and 0.75 g of soluble fibre per 100 ml respectively. It should be noted that the assay method used in the study (enzymatic method followed by dialysis) is not the standard method used to determine fibre in food.

According to this study, coffee is therefore one of the few beverages that contains dietary fibre. Since coffee is consumed frequently and in relatively large quantities (two to three cups per day), it could contribute to the daily intake of fibre.

Coffee contains soluble fibre56. Its content varies from 1.5 to 2.3 g per cup (250 ml). Soluble fibre can contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease by reducing the absorption of bile acids57. They can also help control type 2 diabetes by, among other things, slowing down the digestion of glucose from food.

Coffee for all tastes

In North America, the most widely consumed type of coffee is still regular or “traditional” brewed coffee. However, consumption habits are changing rapidly and more and more people are discovering new types of so-called “specialized” coffee. Here are a few examples.

  • Expresso. Coffee prepared according to a percolation process under very high pressure from a very roasted fine ground coffee. The formation of an opaque hazelnut-coloured cream that adheres to the walls of the cup is a characteristic of a successful espresso.
  • Cappuccino. Coffee made up of a third espresso, a third heated milk and a third milk foam that is sometimes sprinkled with cocoa or cinnamon.
  • Coffee with milk. Coffee to which is added an equal portion of hot milk and a little milk foam. It is usually served in a large cup or bowl and prepared from an elongated or double espresso, sometimes with a strong filter coffee.
  • Latte coffee. Latte coffee is the Italian variant of café au lait. It is made in the same way as coffee with milk, but using ¼ espresso and ¾ hot milk. The basic element of latte coffee is always an espresso.
  • Expresso Macchiato. It’s an espresso with a hint of milk foam on top.
  • Latte Macchiato. Coffee prepared by pouring hot milk followed by milk foam into a tall, narrow and transparent glass. Espresso is then poured gently so that it is placed between the milk and the froth. The ingredients must not mix. This coffee can be served sprinkled with cocoa, cinnamon or other spices.
  • Mocha coffee. A drink prepared from a mixture of espresso, cocoa powder or chocolate syrup and frothy hot milk. To serve, garnish with whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

What about the nutritional value of these coffees?

Regular filter coffee, without the addition of sugar, milk or cream, provides just three calories per cup and no carbohydrate. This is not the case for some specialized coffees, whose calorie and sugar content varies according to the ingredients they contain. For example, a mocha coffee, prepared with chocolate syrup, will contain up to 140 calories and 20 g of carbohydrates per cup. A cup of milk coffee and a cup of latte coffee, prepared with 2% milk, will contain 67 and 97 calories respectively, as well as 7 g and 9 g of carbohydrates (sugars from milk). These types of coffees provide at least half a serving of dairy products.


    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease and symptomatic hiatal hernia
      These esophageal disorders are characterized by burning sensations in the chest (retrosternal burns) and acid regurgitation caused by the rising acid content of the stomach in the mouth. These symptoms usually appear after a meal. Some foods can play a role in improving the sense of well-being and quality of life of people with these problems. Among other things, these people are advised to avoid eating foods rich in methylxanthins, such as coffee, chocolate, tea and cola. These foods reduce the resting pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter and thus contribute to the reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus. In addition, to prevent irritation of the esophageal mucosa, it is recommended to avoid regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee, which can cause epigastric burns.
    • Peptic ulcer disease
      A peptic ulcer is an open lesion of the mucous membrane of the stomach. This lesion is often accompanied by inflammation and destruction of the mucous membrane. People with peptic ulcers should drink coffee in moderation as it contains methylxanthins. These can cause severe pain, especially when coffee is consumed on an empty stomach or just before bedtime. Finally, it seems reasonable to recommend that foods that, at least experimentally, increase gastric acidity be consumed in moderation. This is the case for foods that contain methylxanthines (coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, cola) and decaffeinated drinks.
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
      Caffeine can exacerbate the symptoms of people with irritable bowel syndrome. It is prudent to check the effects and limit their consumption, if necessary.
    • Iron absorption
      Chlorogenic acid, the main phenolic compound in coffee, is believed to be a potent inhibitor of the intestinal absorption of non-heme iron, i.e. iron present in plant products. The results of an intervention study in healthy men show that the amount of phenolic compounds contained in a cup of soluble (instant) coffee reduces iron absorption by 60% to 90%44. According to a synthesis of studies identifying different human research, the consumption of 150 ml to 250 ml of coffee taken during a meal would reduce iron absorption by 24% to 73%13. A widely cited study, the Framingham Heart Study, shows that among seniors, each cup of coffee consumed per week is associated with a 1% decrease in blood iron stores45.
    • Coffee and caffeine: at-risk groups
      Coffee and tea are the main sources of caffeine for adults3. There is some evidence that children, women of childbearing age, pregnant and breastfeeding women may be more vulnerable to the effects of caffeine. This one, consumed in large quantities, would possibly have undesirable effects, among other things on certain reproductive and developmental factors. Caffeine consumption of more than 300 mg per day has been associated with decreased fertility in some studies46,47. In addition, there may be a link between high caffeine consumption and a risk of spontaneous abortion48,49. However, there is no consensus in the scientific literature on this subject. Data from epidemiological studies are contradictory, but there is every indication that moderate caffeine consumption is generally not harmful13. However, as a precautionary measure, Health Canada recommends that women of childbearing age and pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to a maximum of 300 mg per day, the equivalent of about two 8 oz (250 ml) cups of regular coffee. This recommendation also
      applies to breastfeeding women since caffeine can pass into breast milk, which can cause irritability in babies and disturb their sleep.14,51
      For children, Health Canada recommends that caffeine levels should not exceed 45 mg per day for 4 to 6 year olds, 62.5 mg per day for 7 to 9 year olds, and 85 mg per day for 10 to 12 year olds.14,51These recommendations were made in response to some concerns about the possible effects of caffeine on the development of the nervous system13. Based on the results of controlled clinical studies, it appears that caffeine consumption below 3 mg/kg body weight does not have a negative effect on child behaviour (hyperactivity, attention deficit). In Canada, an intake of 2.5 mg/kg body weight was used as the reference for calculating the recommended maximum intake13.

Coffee over time

Café” appeared in the French language in 1610 and is derived from the Italian caffè, which borrowed it from the Arabic qahwah, pronounced in Turkish kahveh. The word is given various meanings, including “what keeps you awake” and “wine”, a drink forbidden in Islam and which coffee replaced. In France, the caoua form, derived from Algerian Arabic and used by the military in the 19th century, is familiar.

In many languages, “coffee” refers to both the drink and the establishment where it is served, reflecting the immense importance it has acquired in social life. “Cafeteria“, derived from English, refers to the same reality.

It is generally agreed that Coffea arabica comes from Abyssinia on the shores of the Red Sea (present-day Ethiopia). Traces of its presence dating back to the 7th century have been found. The most famous legend is that a shepherd discovered the stimulating properties of coffee after discovering that his goats were more lively when they ate the small wild berries.

Domesticated in Yemen, coffee spread throughout the Arab world, thanks to the Sufis, it is believed, who appreciated its exciting effects. Drinking allowed them to stay awake during their long hours of practice. We think that it was a Sufi scheik who first thought of roasting the grains before boiling them. Until then, green beans were used to make coffee.

Due to the ban on alcohol, coffee will become the beverage of choice for Arabs. For more than two centuries, they kept the exclusivity of its cultivation and trade, boiling or drying the grains in the sun to kill the germ. Before the 16th century, no coffee trees grew outside this region of the globe. Then, reckless travellers will succeed in getting out of Yemen a few fertile grains to sow them in foreign lands. It was introduced in Europe in the 16th century and in America at the beginning of the 17th century.

Along with tea, chocolate and mate, coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. And like them, its history is linked to empires, wars and revolutions. As early as 1511, the authorities of Mecca undertook to burn bags of coffee in the streets of the city, in protest against the popularity of coffee shops in major cities such as Cairo, Istanbul, Damascus and Algiers, places, they said, of debauchery and political intrigue. In 1600, Italian priests tried to have it banned by Pope Clement VIII because it was the drink of the infidels. However, after taking a cup, the Pope decreed that he loved her. To counter the objections of the priests, he undertook to administer the sacrament of baptism in coffee to legalize it….

In London in 1674, women signed a petition to ban coffee. They argued that he was keeping their husbands away, who preferred to stay in the facilities where he was served rather than stay at home. They also argued that it reduced their virile ardour. A year later, King Charles II wanted to close the cafés under the pretext that these establishments were places where the revolution was taking place. But the public reaction was such that they had to quickly abandon their project.

In Germany, they wanted to ban it from women, claiming that it made them sterile, which led Johann Sebastian Bach to write a cantata mocking the German authorities. In Prussia, King Frederick the Great wanted to ban it in 1775, because it affected the trade in beer produced in the country. In the United States, it replaced tea after the Boston Tea Party event where, overwhelmed by the excessive taxes imposed on tea by the English, the Boston residents threw into the water the tea shipments of the English ships anchored in the port.

Two species are cultivated on a large scale, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (often called Coffea robusta, because it is the most productive variety of this species). C. arabica beans have a more pronounced and richer taste, a lower caffeine content. But this species is less productive and less resistant to climatic variations as well as insects and diseases. Despite this, 75% of the world’s production is supplied by C. arabica.

C. canephora beans are mainly used for the production of lower quality coffee, especially soluble coffee. But this species provides very good Robusta. A certain proportion is required in espresso coffee, because it is Robusta that gives this coffee its crema, the golden foam that covers it and is a sign of quality.

Sultana coffee
Today, few people are familiar with this way of doing things, which consists in infusing the shells surrounding the coffee beans. It was in use in Turkey where the sultanas would have introduced its fashion. It appears in various early works, including the Dictionnaire de Trévoux (1704), the Encyclopédie de Diderot et d’Alembert (1758) and the Grand dictionnaire de cuisine (1873) by Alexandre Dumas père. Unlike grains, hulls would have calming effects, but to our knowledge there are no studies that have examined these effects. Some coffee producers sell coffee occasionally.

Although coffee is grown in more than 100 countries, 80% of global production is provided by 13 countries, including Brazil – the world’s largest producer – Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, India, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Costa Rica, Vietnam, El Salvador and Kenya.

The quality of coffee varies according to the species, but also according to the soil, altitude, climate and processing. The best coffees would be those from coffee trees grown at an altitude of more than 1,000 m in volcanic soil. Many cultivars have been selected over the centuries.

Depending on the roasting time, the coffee beans will lose their green colour and turn blonde, brown or black. In addition, depending on the coffee preparation method, a more or less fine grind will be used: ultra fine for Turkish coffee, very fine for espresso coffee, fine for manual filter coffee maker, slightly less fine for electric filter coffee maker, and medium to coarse for percolator.

As with wine and tea, there are great vintages linked to specific terroirs, the best known being Blue Mountain (Jamaica), Kona (Hawaii), Moka (Ethiopia) and Java (Java Island).

Decaffeinated coffee

About 10% of the world’s production is decaffeinated. In Canada, the maximum caffeine content must be 0.1% for roasted coffee and 0.3% for soluble coffee53. There are two main processes for decaffeinating coffee beans. The mechanical process uses water, carbon dioxide (CO2) or coffee oil to remove the caffeine. This would preserve the aroma and flavour of the bean and produce better quality decaffeinated coffee. Caffeine can also be extracted using solvents, such as ethyl acetate or methylene chloride. However, these chemical methods are less and less used. The type of process used must be indicated on the packaging.

Research is currently focused on the development of coffee varieties with low caffeine content. These varieties can be produced in a traditional way, by natural selection and crossbreeding, or by genetic modification54,55. This would avoid all the steps necessary to extract the caffeine and produce a superior quality “decaf” with a better preserved aroma and flavour.

Currently, researchers have successfully produced plants in the laboratory that contain 50% to 94% less caffeine. In 2004, researchers discovered a coffee tree in Ethiopia with virtually no caffeine content (less than in soluble decaffeinated coffee). This discovery should lead to the selection of new cultivars producing coffee that will not require any decaffeination.

Culinary uses

To access other recipes, you can visit the cooking recipe site, which offers, among other things, the following recipes: coffee cake, coffee lightning, coffee ice cream, etc

How to choose the right one

Depending on the length of the roasting process, the coffee will be sweet, smooth or full-bodied. A light roasting gives a reddish brown bean with a sweet taste. A medium roast produces a darker bean, with a more pronounced flavour (velvety). Finally, a longer roast gives a much darker bean, with a full-bodied flavour reminiscent of charcoal and caramel. In Europe, there may be one or two other categories. The degree of roasting is a matter of taste. It does not affect the caffeine content of the prepared drink, nor its strength, which depends on the ratio between the amount of water and coffee.

Culinary preparations

In a drink

      • To prepare a good cup of coffee, it is recommended to use about 2 tablespoons for 180 ml of water. Cow’s milk in coffee can be replaced by soy milk. Some people hate it, but others are very comfortable with it. Honey and maple syrup can replace sugar, but the taste of coffee will change significantly.
      • Flavoured coffees. There are dozens of pre-flavoured coffees, but gourmet coffee lovers argue that it is better to flavour their own coffee. For example, you can add almond or vanilla extract to freshly brewed coffee. You can also add a vanilla pod, cardamom pods, cloves, fennel or aniseed to the ground coffee before adding water. Or sprinkle hot coffee with cinnamon or ground nutmeg.
      • Ice coffee. Flavour freshly brewed coffee with a few drops of vanilla or almond extract, mix in equal parts with milk and pour into a glass filled with ice cubes.
      • Mocha coffee. Mix hot chocolate and hot coffee in equal parts. Add milk or cream, cocoa powder and ground cinnamon. To hell with it: add a little hot pepper.
      • Coffee shake. Let coffee cool down very hard and then add ice cream and, to taste, sugar, milk or cream. Or blend half a cup of cold coffee in a blender or at room temperature with a piece of banana, yogurt, one or two ice cubes and, if desired, a spoonful of wheat germ.

In foodstuffs

The kopi luak
In Indonesia, a very special coffee is produced, the kopi luak, which comes from beans consumed by a small animal, the civet. After eating the healthiest and ripe beans, the civet evacuates the partially digested and fermented grains into its excrement. Harvested and cleaned by the producers, they are said to have a particular flavour, much appreciated by Indonesians. Is this an urban legend? One thing is certain, this coffee sells for a small fortune.
      • Add a few tablespoons of ground coffee to a Thai sauce or marinade; marinate chicken breast pieces for a few hours or overnight. Drain the chicken and cook on the grill. Reheat the marinade and pour it over the chicken.
      • Add a few tablespoons of finely ground coffee to a spaghetti sauce or incorporate a cup of coffee into a meat and tomato sauce.
      • Roll a whole fish or fillets in coarsely ground coffee before grilling. The same can be done with steaks or chops of lamb, veal, beef, etc. Or mix a part of coarse ground coffee, a part of chopped nuts and a part of breadcrumbs. Or, coat chicken breasts with a mixture of ground coffee and spices (cardamom, coriander, cumin seeds, etc.) and bake.
      • To deglaze a pan in which meat has been cooked, replace the vinegar or wine with coffee.
      • Add about one cup of coffee to the water in the stew or boil before cooking; or add to a chili con carne or sin carne mixture.
      • Replace some or all of the water or milk in the preparation of cakes, cookies, muffins, etc. with coffee. Coffee can be used in the preparation of countless desserts: mousses, creams, pastry creams, ice creams or sorbets. It is an essential element of the famous tiramisu.
      • To freshen your breath, bite into one or two coffee beans.


Store coffee in a waterproof container, away from strong odours, as it absorbs them easily. Ground or in beans, coffee can be stored in the freezer.

Ground. In contact with air, the ground coffee oxidizes in a few days. It is therefore recommended to store in the refrigerator only the amount that will be consumed in five or seven days. Vacuum-packed coffee, on the other hand, will keep much longer. Check the expiry date.

Whole roasted beans. About four weeks at room temperature.

Green grains. A few years.

Organic Gardening

For pleasure, you can grow a potted coffee tree, which will be brought indoors in the fall, but it is unlikely that the plant will produce fruit. Use green beans for planting, roasted beans being sterile.

Ecology and environment

Organic, fair and profitable

Recycling coffee grounds
Coffee grounds (residue after infusion) is an exceptional resource that is largely underutilized. Thousands of tons are generated each year around the world. It can be composted or applied as a mulch in the garden. Its potential in the fight against certain undesirables, such as slugs, is also being studied. Finally, a Canadian engineer has developed the Java log, a log for those who own a home. This stick is distributed throughout North America and recycles more than 42 million kilograms of coffee grounds per year.

The “Fair Trade Certified” logo on the packaging ensures that the coffee has been produced and marketed in compliance with certain standards relating to coffee quality, farmers’ working conditions and respect for the environment. The NGO Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders published a study in January 2007 on the effect of fair trade on coffee producers in southern Ecuador. It reveals that certified fair trade and organic coffee producers have been more successful than others in weathering the international price crisis that the industry experienced from 2000 to 2003. While many of the other producers have had to abandon their land, temporarily or permanently, they have been able to stay on their land with an adequate income.

In addition, families enrolled in the program are able to adequately pay for temporary labour who, otherwise, must go to banana plantations or shrimp farms to offer their services. Fair trade therefore makes it possible to stop temporary migration and maintain peasant agriculture. The author of the report concludes: “In connection with the organic certification process, associations play a leading role in the sustainable management of natural resources”.