As you probably know, coffee beans come from the coffee tree, which is actually a beautiful tropical evergreen shrub. What makes coffee so interesting, other than its popularity and scrutiny, is its origin.
Coffee dates as far back as 800 A.D. in Africa and National Geographic tells the "goat coffee" story. It all started with an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi, who “noticed his herd dancing from one coffee shrub to another, grazing on the cherry-red berries containing the beans. He copped a few himself and was soon frolicking with his flock.” It turns out that a monk “witnessed Kaldi’s goatly gambol,” so the monk plucked berries for his brothers and that night they were “uncannily alert to divine inspiration.”
History tells us that coffee as we know it today kicked off in Arabia, where roasted beans were first brewed around A.D. 1000. By the 13th century Muslims were drinking coffee religiously. Seemingly, "the bean broth drove dervishes into orbit, kept worshippers awake, and splashed over into secular life."
For years, coffee has been under scrutiny, propelling much confusion. Is coffee good or bad for you? A featured article by WebMD says that coffee could lower your risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and colon cancer. There's also some evidence that coffee may help manage asthma, stop a headache, boost mood, and prevent cavities. Newsmax Health adds a few more “diseases coffee can benefit,” like dementia, liver disease, heart disease, gout as well as prostate and breast cancers.
While researchers believe it's the antioxidants (polyphenols or flavonoids) and possibly the hundreds of other compounds found in coffee that are responsible for coffee's health benefits, scientists are cautionary, adding the usual "more research is needed" line. Tomas DePaulis PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world, summarizes it this way: "Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful," and "for most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good."
Good news for us coffee lovers! So, when does coffee become bad? When it is your only beverage choice of the day, you don’t drink enough water, and/or consume excessive amounts of caffeine. While coffee does contain caffeine, it is not the only place you will find it –– caffeine is in tea, soda, energy drinks (an 8 oz. Red Bull has 80 milligrams of caffeine), candy and other food items as well as medications and so-called diet pills, which contain anywhere from 200 to 414 milligrams of caffeine.