Coffee is the world’s most cherished drink. More than eight billion pounds of it are traded each year. Coffee has belonged to the elite “Food of the Gods” category for centuries. Those that fit into this category, such as chocolate and coffee, have certain things in common—like great intensity. Honor their power by taking them in pure, unadulterated form and small quantities. Provided the products you choose have not been contaminated by poisons and pesticides, they will expand your consciousness while bestowing clarity and joy. But use them carelessly, in too great a quantity and without regard for purity, and they will undermine health and seriously distort your perceptions of reality. These are but a few of the challenges and the rewards foods from the Dark Gods bestows upon us.
Once associated with Persians and Arabs, coffee has become so much a part of modern life that most who habitually drink it dread being without it. If you’re going to drink coffee, there are certain things you need to know—such as how to choose the best coffee, how to protect yourself from the ever-increasing contamination from pesticides and herbicides, and about the magnificent mythologies behind this dark, ubiquitous drink.
There are wonderful tales about where coffee comes from. An Abyssinian story insists that a goatherd called Kaldi noticed one day that his flock was much friskier when they ate the fruit of a certain glossy green tree. Kaldi decided to try some himself, and experienced a rush of energy. A passing monk noticed the energy and asked where it came from. Kaldi introduced him to the coffee tree. The monk then gathered some beans and took them home for himself.
There is truth to the spirit of this tale. Coffee was indeed introduced to the world by monks. Christian monastics believed that the archangel Gabriel was responsible for bringing this fruit to the earth. Meanwhile, Muslims insisted that a banished dervish called Omar, weak from exhaustion, came upon the coffee plant and took its fruit, only to find that his energy flooded back in force. They insist it was he who brought this magnificent food to the world. By the 6th century, coffee trees were being cultivated in what today is known as the Yemen in Arabia.
In the beginning, coffee beans were ground and used to make tea. There’s no record of how this practice changed and it became a question of tossing the beans on the fire to benefit from the aromatic alchemical change which takes place when you roast them. The way coffee was first prepared is probably the way the thick, grainy drink we now call Turkish coffee is still prepared—by grinding up the roasted beans, putting them into boiling water and heating the mixture to a boil several times over a flame until it burns down to make a powerful, thick black soup.
Coffee, like any other food which has alkaline drug properties and strong effects, has been banned for periods throughout history. In the 16th century it was even forbidden in Mecca. However, the Sultan himself so loved the beverage that he insisted it be made legal again. In the 17th century, the Catholic church did its best to ban coffee throughout Europe. But the Pope, an avid coffee drinker, insisted that this not happen. Not long after, cappuccino was invented. In both France and the United States, by the 17th century, coffee houses began to appear here and there—much in the same spirit in which they still exist throughout the world. They were places where people could meet and talk in an atmosphere of warmth and camaraderie.
SEEDS OF REVOLUTION
The French historian Michelet in 1789 insisted that the widespread availability of coffee in cafés played a central part in the development of the French revolution. In such places, philosophers and activists gathered to plan the future of France. Even in colonial America, where the first coffee house was opened in Boston in 1670, coffee houses played an active part in the planning for the American revolution. Across the Atlantic, in Turkey, so important was coffee—which had then come to be considered a household staple—that a woman could sue her husband for divorce on the grounds that he was not giving her a fair share of the beverage.
Coffee warms us, stimulates us and has a natural diuretic and purgative effect on the body. From the point of view of our creativity and mental functioning, coffee most definitely has something to offer. The cafés in Paris in the 20th century were filled with famous writers, artists, politicians and thinkers who enjoyed the stimulation that coffee can bring; among them Ernest Hemingway, Collette, Jean-Paul Sartre, Picasso and even W.B. Yeats.
DANGERS AND TRUTHS
Let’s look at dangers first. Research shows that women who drink coffee while eating the typical high-carb diet have a greater risk of breast cancer and bladder cancer, as well as obesity. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, under no circumstances should you be drinking coffee. Coffee taken during pregnancy increases the rate of birth defects and miscarriages. Most studies into the damaging effects of coffee, however, have been done using readily-available coffee in the market-place, almost all of which is contaminated by plants have have been cultivated using GMO seeds and/or sprayed with an ever-increasing number of herbicides and pesticides which build up to poison the body by interfering with metabolic processes. In so-called developed countries such as Europe and the United States, once an herbicide or pesticide is labelled “dangerous to human health” and made illegal, the chemical companies who produce it then send the banned chemical to third world countries for use there.
MUST BE CERTIFIED ORGANIC
Coffee is mostly grown in third world countries—in which there are no statutory controls over how much of a specific herbicide or pesticide can be sprayed on crops. As a result, coffee has become one of the most contaminated foods in the world. Personally, I take with a grain of salt some of the negative results of scientific research that’s been done into how damaging coffee is to the human body. I suspect that at least some of the damage may be due not to the caffeine, as is commonly supposed, but to the chemical contamination which most coffee beans now carry. This makes the argument for organic coffee a strong one. Coffee grown organically does not exploit the native peoples who work in the coffee plantations, but rather gives them fair financial remuneration for their work. Certified organic coffee is also free of the chemical dangers in relation to human health. So, when buying coffee, go organic. There is an aesthetic reason for this too. Organic coffees have a finer flavor than the coffees that have been grown with herbicides and pesticides.
Despite all the warnings about how dangerous coffee is to health—and there is truth in most of them—clean, organic coffee has many benefits to mind and body. It has been prescribed for generations in the treatment of asthma, vertigo, headache, jaundice and even snake bite. A poultice of wet coffee grounds speeds the healing of insect stings and bruises. Coffee enemas are used internally as a strong purgative stimulant both to the bowels and to the liver in the natural treatment of serious illness, including cancer. Reports from several recent studies support positive effects that can be gleaned from using the right kind of coffee in the right amounts. Here are just a few of the recent findings:
- Japanese researchers have discovered that people who are not regular consumers of coffee experience a 30% increase in capillary flow after drinking 5 ounces of coffee.
- At Johns Hopkins University researchers reported that 200mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee improves memory for as much as 24 hours.
- At University of Oslo in Norway, researchers report that coffee has potent anti-inflammatory chemo-protective and anti-aging qualities.
- A Spanish study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition shows that coffee taken before a workout can increase your energy expenditure for up to three hours afterward.
ESPRESSO IS KING
If you are going to drink coffee, the best kind to go for is certified organic espresso. Espresso, which the uninformed often shun, believing it to be too strong, is most often derived from Coffea arabica. Arabica grows high up on steep mountain slopes. It needs lots of shade and plenty of rainfall to flourish. Its flavor is richer, deeper and more full-bodied than the less expensive Coffea canephora or robusta coffee. Most people still believe that espresso is very high in caffeine. In truth, one shot of 1.5 fl oz. of espresso contains about 64mg of caffeine compared to 95g in the standard 8oz cup of coffee. The dark roasting, on which the flavor of espresso depends, burns off some of the caffeine content. The darker the roast, the less caffeine is present in the coffee.
HOW TO MAKE COFFEE WORK FOR YOU
There are some important things for you to know if you want to get the best from drinking coffee. It’s essential to adhere to them or you can undermine coffee’s benefits and suffer from its dangers. Here’s the way to go:
- Drink only certified organic coffee, and make it fair trade.
- Go for certified organic espresso instead of the conventional cup of java. It is healthiest and boasts the greatest benefits for energy.
- The darker the roast, the better for wellbeing.
- Always drink coffee black, in all its intensity, without milk, cream or sweeteners of any kind. When you do this, the rich blend of polyphenol anti-oxidants, bioflavonoids, minerals and vitamins not only help neutralize the more aggressive effects of caffeine. They work in harmony to support your mind and body.
- Limit your consumption of to one cup a day—two if you must.
- Drink a shot of espresso in the morning before—never after—exercising. It can not only improve your athletic prowess, it can uplift you for the day.
I’ve investigated and experimented with many espresso blends in the last few months. Let me share with you the two certified organic espressos that I find the best. You can buy them either ground or as whole beans to grind yourself. Do try them and let me know what you think won’t you?
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The best coffees in the world are a joy to the mind and soul. Brew a wonderful cup, sit down, and take a sip.
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