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Coffee: Benefits of this black gold

Food
 Benefits of taking coffee (Photo: iStock)

Any list of universal beverages would be incomplete without mentioning coffee, one of the world's favourite drinks.

Derived from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, coffee originated in Ethiopia. It comes in two main varieties, known as Arabica (Coffea arabica) and Robusta (Coffea canephora).

Arabica, known for its delicate flavour and aromatic qualities, accounts for around 60-70% of world coffee production, while Robusta, with a higher caffeine content and a more robust, bitter taste, accounts for the remainder.

There are many methods and styles of brewing coffee, which produce different types of coffee depending on the degree of concentration and ingredients added.

Espresso, a concentrated shot brewed by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans, forms the basis of various coffee drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes and macchiatos.

Adding water to Expresso creates Americano coffee. Adding milk to expresso makes flat white coffee. If milk foam is added instead of milk, macchiato is the result.

Latte is a combination of milk, milk foam and expresso, while mocha is a latte to which chocolate syrup has been added.

Black coffee is the most popular type of coffee as it is not as concentrated and does not require other ingredients.

When consumed in moderation, coffee has several potential health benefits. It can act as an antioxidant, helping to combat cell damage caused by free radicals, and may reduce the risk of certain diseases.

The caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant, improving cognitive function and alertness and reducing fatigue. In addition, caffeine can improve physical performance by increasing adrenaline levels, improving endurance and reducing body fat.

However, excessive coffee consumption or sensitivity to caffeine can lead to insomnia, anxiety and increased heart rate.

In addition, the acidic nature of coffee can irritate the stomach lining, leading to acid reflux, heartburn or gastrointestinal discomfort in some people.

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