What is the chemistry of coffee? Caffeine is the most famous chemical compound in coffee, but roasted coffee beans contain more than 1,000 other compounds. Some of these chemicals are noxious but still are not unhealthy because they are present in such low amounts.
You never hear anybody wake up and say, “I need a big dose of putrescine and dimethyl disulfide in my morning cup.” As Business Insider reports, these chemicals are present in decaying flesh (putrescine) and human feces (dimethyl disulfide) and give them their distinct odor. If this grosses you out, don’t worry, these compounds are present in such tiny amounts that they won’t ruin your morning cuppa with noxious odors and flavors.
Of course caffeine is the most famous chemical in coffee and has been shown as beneficial in many ways. Research on coffee has shown that it:
Caffeine also can enhance memory and concentration, keep you alert, alleviate fatigue and sleep deprivation, and, according to CaffeineInformer, it reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. It also may prevent erectile dysfunction and reduce the risk of suicide.
A Viter Life blog pointed out that caffeine can boost athletic stamina and speed so much that the International Olympic Committee once limited how much of it Olympic athletes could take. Caffeine was categorized as a performance-enhancing substance.
What are some of these other mysterious chemicals in coffee? Two compounds that may raise cholesterol, specifically bad LDL cholesterol, are present as oily droplets or in grounds, says a Harvard Health Letter article. They are cafestol and kawheol, oily chemicals of a type called diterpenes. Paper filters catch most of these chemicals, but certain types of coffee preparation that don’t use filters leave them in the beverage.
Harvard reports: “There is a twist to this aspect of the coffee story, because cafestol and kahweol may also have some health benefits that are lost when they’re filtered out. The research is in the preliminary stages, but cafestol and kahweol could have some anticancer effects and be good for the liver.”
There are so many chemical compounds in coffee that various websites report on different ones.
Other antioxidant chemicals, including chlorogenic acid, may help prevent heart disease and diabetes, and inhibit the body’s absorption of glucose in the digestive tract and even out the level of insulin, Harvard reports.
“Chlorogenic acid might be another coffee ingredient with a split personality. Along with caffeine, it seems to push up levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been associated with artery-clogging atherosclerosis,” Harvard says the article.
Business Insider introduces its article by writing:
This is what you just put in your mug: Cocaine-like brain chemicals and the juice of death.
The article is from a chapter in the book THIS IS WHAT YOU JUST PUT IN YOUR MOUTH? by Patrick Di Justo.
Sounds kind of grim, doesn’t it? But the chapter does point to some positive effects of coffee’s many chemicals.
The Harvard Medical Letter says coffee is good for us, but researchers on coffee’s benefits haven’t reached the conclusion that coffee should be a recommended health drink. The letter states that so many favorable studies and such healthy ingredients mean good news for those who drink coffee. Harvard advises people to enjoy their cups of coffee in moderation.
Of course if you’re turned off by the (undetectable) presence of the odor of feces and decay, you can try Viter Energy Mints, which contain none of those noxious chemicals and some very helpful ones, including caffeine, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide and sucralose.
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Scientists have been studying whether eight 8-ounce glasses are necessary, and whether moderate amounts of caffeine make you dehydrated. The answers: no and no.
It was claimed caffeine makes you urinate so much you become dehydrated. In fact, taken in moderate amounts, caffeinated beverages can contribute to your overall daily water needs. Drink up, but beware you might have to go to the bathroom a lot.
Does caffeine stunt growth? A lot of people may say that, but the science doesn't support the contention. It's an urban legend now. About 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine in one product or another.
Caffeine is the world's most popular stimulant. It and coffee are legal, and in moderate doses do no harm but actually may help people by decreasing the risk of several conditions.
U.S. National Public Radio published a February 2016 story titled "Caffeine for Sale: The Hidden Trade of the World's Favorite Stimulant" about how caffeine is removed from coffee beans and then where it goes after the decaf coffee is made.
Now there is a huge, worldwide trade in caffeine extracted from coffee beans. It is used in soda, energy drinks, medications and candies that have no natural caffeine content. And people wonder if synthetic caffeine is more dangerous than caffeine from natural sources. Scientists say there is no difference between the two.