When people first begin a quest to eat and drink healthy foods, they often find that they have to give up something. For many people, it is that devil drink: soda. I talked about how to stop drinking soda in an earlier post. For others, it is that delicious coffee drink from “they who shall not be named” because they add so much sugar and fat that the drinks have about the same calories as eating a big ol’ greasy cheeseburger with all the fixin’s. Yes, you really do need to give up those coffee “dessert drinks”. Sorry. But you do not need to give up coffee and the benefits that come with it.
Coffee has received a bad rap for many years. I know, because I’ve been a dedicated coffee drinker since 1984 and have had to listen to everyone nag me over and over again, year after year. Coffee has been blamed for causing anxiety, insomnia, increased blood pressure and calcium deficiency. But, the research kept flip-flopping. One study would show that it was bad. The next study would show that it did provide benefits. Finally, after all of these years, the research has become more sophisticated and shown that coffee, in moderation, does indeed provide solid benefits. Coffee has more antioxidants than green or black tea and may actually protect against age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It may also reduce the risk for heart disease, breast cancer, asthma, gallstones, and even cavities and diabetes. Just be reasonable about how much you consume! Anything (even water) can be bad for you if you drink too much of it. So, drink a reasonable amount of coffee per day and enjoy that added caffeine boost.
Ok, so that takes care of any health concerns about coffee itself. But, let’s also talk about the calories. I know that it matters, because I’ve heard so many of you ask that question over and over again: How many calories are in coffee? Well, a plain old cup of brewed coffee has only 5 calories and 0 fat. Let me repeat that: A 12 oz mug of black coffee has about 5 calories and zero fat! Where you get into trouble is when you starting adding stuff to your coffee: cream, sugar, syrup flavorings, and whipped cream. Whipped cream? Makes me shudder just thinking about it. When you do all of that, you start losing the benefits of drinking coffee and the calories add up. As a comparison, one of the smallest blended coffee drinks (12 oz) at Starbucks has 390 calories when you add the goodies! That is 78 times the number of calories in the same amount of black coffee! But, if you add cream and sugar to that black coffee, it can also jump to 70 calories.
And, do you know why you drink those sweetened coffee drinks or add cream and sugar to most coffee? Because most of the coffee out there really sucks. It tastes bitter, burned, and nasty. This happens because most restaurants and cafes (and people) just don’t know how to brew great coffee. For example:
- They don’t use fresh coffee or they use low-quality coffee
- They don’t use pure water
- The water for brewing is too hot and over-extracts the coffee
- The coffee sits for too long and gets stale
Folks, it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve spent over 25 years perfecting how I brew coffee because I love it so much. So, I have reached the point where I drink my coffee black. Nothing added. It tastes great! When you use high-quality ingredients and brew it with care, it turns out so well that you don’t need to add cream or sugar.
After years of trial and error, I have settled on two different methods: One for coffee and one for espresso (which I also love). For coffee, I use a Chemex Drip Coffee Carafe. It has a number of advantages over auto-drip brewing. The first is that I completely control the water temperature that I start the brewing with and ensure that it is exactly correct (180 F). Few auto drip makers are capable of this. Over time, even a good auto-drip maker will brew at lower and lower temperatures – especially if it is not kept clean. Second, I use high-quality fresh whole coffee beans that I grind right before brewing in a conical burr grinder. Don’t buy pre-ground coffee! I buy a pound of fresh beans every week. If you don’t have a place to get whole coffee beans near you, you can buy them online (even at Amazon). Third, I have total control over the infusion time since I pour the hot water by hand. Finally, it is so easy to keep the glass flask very, very clean. It is really hard to keep other systems completely clean, so the oily coffee residue makes your coffee taste bitter or “off”. High-quality fresh coffee beans ground correctly, the right water temp, control over brewing time, and ease of keeping it clean. All of this makes for great coffee.
For espresso, I use a really clever little device called the AeroPress. It costs a heck of a lot less than an espresso maker and makes really smooth espresso. It is so compact and light that I even take it camping!
So, there you go. There is no need to live without your caffeine fix from that great cup of coffee you’re craving. Make it yourself or get it from a great coffee house, so that you can drink it black and smooth without adding all of those extras that add the extra pounds. Enjoy!