It’s Monday and I have just received the most mammoth box of Nespresso’s coffee pods, complete with all my favourite flavours (Cocoa Truffle, Napoli, and Kazaar) and the new limited edition launch — Paris Black, which is basically the French capital in a cup.
This is the kind of gift that keeps on giving, because not only does a shot of caffeine wake you up, get you through a lousy day and tide over the crazy deadlines, the health benefits of coffee are so extensive that other beverages find it hard to equal.
Basically, this is a gift of pure sunshine that promises health, good humour and happiness in a cup. Through the year.
Don’t believe me? Here are 11 science-backed reasons why a jolt of java is good for mind, body and soul. Have fun reading while I quickly pop a pod and see you on the other side.
Coffee promotes mental sharpness
Well… d-uh… right? Coffee helps us perk up and face the mornings. And the mid-afternoon slump. And the late-at-night deadline. And everything in between. But it doesn’t stop there. Coffee actually sharpens the brain, making it work more efficiently. Result? Faster reflexes, enhanced attention span, increased focus, better memory, and improved logical reasoning.
But it doesn’t just end there. Research shows that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily also cuts the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia by 65%.
Coffee reduces pain
Sore muscles? Amongst one of my favorite health benefits of coffee is that it can reduce pain by up to 48%, say Norwegian researchers and the Journal of Pain. I need my gym to install a coffee bar. And my hospital. And constantly in the vicinity of my BFF’s boyfriend, who never fails to give me a migraine.
Coffee helps weight loss
A jolt of java not only reduces post-exercise pain, having a cup of black coffee an hour before your workout can increase physical performance by almost 12%. The link? Caffeine boosts adrenaline, which helps you work out harder and more efficiently. Plus, it also helps break down fat cells. #doublewhammy
Coffee suppresses chronic inflammation
And I don’t mean the kind of inflammation that occurs when you hurt yourself or are stung by a bee. We are talking about chronic internal inflammation that occurs under the skin or around our vital organs — such as the heart or liver — putting extra pressure on them (think of it as an extra layer of fat or mucus that’s squeezing the organs), while simultaneously blocking optimal supply of nutrients.
This internal inflammation is the leading cause of chronic issues such as diabetes, heart trouble, cystic acne, eczema, wrinkles, fine lines, dullness and sagging.
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that coffee benefits our body by blocking the pathways of inflammatory molecules, preventing them from lodging in our body. This means more flexible arteries, lower blood pressure and a host of skin benefits to boot.
Coffee is full of antioxidants
Strange as it may seem, Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee. Yes, coffee. Chalk up one more for the health benefits of coffee!
Coffee makes you happy
And I don’t just mean this in terms of the caffeine high! Coffee benefits your psyche by literally stimulating the production of serotonin and dopamine, which make you brighter and perkier.
Coffee protects your heart
Dutch and Japanese studies (the latter had 76,000 participants!) show that moderate coffee drinkers (1-2 cups per day) have up to 38% chance of dying from a cardiovascular disease.
Coffee prevents diabetes
After 28 studies over more than one million participants, researchers at Harvard have found that a single cup of coffee can cut the risk of Type II diabetes by 11% (just remember to hold the sugar).
The reason? Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol that reduces the concentration of blood sugar and slows down its absorption. It also contains magnesium and potassium, which increase insulin sensitivity and reduces sweet cravings. Of course, you need to not dump in sugar for this to work.
Coffee protects your liver
Looking for more health benefits of coffee? Drinking one cup a day can cut your risk for developing liver cirrhosis by 20% by lowering enzyme levels. Take it up to four cups a day and it can also halt the progression of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
Coffee helps avoid kidney stones
According to studies at Harvard, coffee benefits the body by keeping us safe(r) from kidney stones. It’s a diuretic that helps flush out excess calcium and sodium from the body, thereby preventing the formation of kidney stones. Trust me, I’ve had them and they literally do hurt more than childbirth.
Coffee prevents cavities
If I had to choose my favourite finding about the health benefits of coffee, this is The One! As someone who has a serious dental phobia, just knowing that black coffee helps keep at bay the bacteria that cause tooth decay has me literally brewing up another cup right now. Hold the milk and sugar, though!
The Four Best Coffee Machines To Invest In Right Now
Brewing a great cup of coffee can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it… at one end of the spectrum is put-coffee-powder-in-hot-water-and-add-milk simplicity, while at the very other end are complicated coffee bars with a gazillion settings that need actually training as a barista.
My taste runs somewhere midway — to me, instant coffee tastes like mud but spending half an hour on the perfect brew is the most imperfect test of my patience. So, I prefer the plug-and-play ease of a great coffee pod. Insert pod, extract coffee. Drink. Be happy.
The happiness, though, lies in the machine and the pods — not all plug-and-plays are built equal. After having experimented through a whole host of them, I can say with great certainty that these four won’t let you down.
Nespresso Lattissima Touch Original Espresso Machine with Milk Frother by De’Longhi
It’s the OG of pod-based coffee machines and the one I have in my own house. There are six one-touch blends on offer: latte, latte macchiato, cappuccino, espresso, lungo, or warm milk froth. You can also adjust the amount of froth in every one of these. Plus the sleek, Italian design sits well aesthetically, while Nespresso pods are the best in the market. What more can one ask for?
Nespresso Essenza Mini by Breville
If you don’t add milk to your coffee, save money and counter space with the Nespresso Essenza, which has all the elements of the Lattissima Touch, sans the milk frother.
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine
Not a pod person? The Breville Barista Express is a bean-to-cup machine, which will freshly grind your beans for the most aromatic, flavourful results. Add in the digital temperature control for optimal extraction based on the particular bean and manual microfoam milk texturing for the perfect froth and you have the perfect cup of java this side of an artisanal coffee shop. Yes, it requires a little finessing of proportions but once you get the hang of this powerhouse, it’s less than a minute from bean to the cup.
Breville Precision Brewer Thermal Coffee Maker
If classic drip coffee is more your style, you can’t go wrong with this 6-mode (Gold, Fast, Strong, Iced, Cold Brew and My Brew) and digital temperature control coffee maker, which lets you easily customize parameters like bloom time, brew temperature, and flow rate. It also includes the option to add a pour over dripper, if that’s more your vibe.
Are you a coffee lover? Absolutely yay? Or unequivocally nay?