There are quite a few conflicting arguments about whether or not coffee is good for you, either way it is still one of the most popular drinks across the world and a personal favourite of mine. In the following article I’ll go over some excuses to drink even more coffee than you already do and finish with a cold brew recipe I recently discovered so that you can carry on supporting your addiction over the hot summer months to come.
Coffee is great if you want to boost your athletic performance without taking supplements or energy drinks which tend to contain a lot of sugar and other nasty ingredients. One of the main reasons to drink coffee is the large dose of caffeine we receive as a result which actually benefits us a lot more than you might think:
- Caffeine speeds up our metabolic rate by 3 – 11% (the rate at which our body uses/burns energy) which allows us to burn more fat during exercise – perfect for those looking to be beach body ready this summer.
- Caffeine also stimulates the body to use fat stores as fuel instead of sugar which should reduce fatigue and enhance performance during longer workout sessions.
- Caffeine reduces muscle pain/soreness meaning a higher tolerance to pain during a workout (and potentially boosted performance) as well as a quicker recovery afterwards.
Coffee also has a bunch of other useful affects than non-athletes can appreciate just as much:
- Caffeine is a natural stimulant which means it can raise your energy levels quite significantly. After drinking coffee, caffeine is absorbed into your blood and travels to your brain where it blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine. This leads to the enhanced firing of neurons improving energy levels, mood, concentration, reaction time and memory.
- Coffee also appears to protect against certain types of cancer, for example studies show that people who drink coffee are around 40% less likely to get liver cancer.
- Coffee is one of the main sources of antioxidants in the Western diet. Antioxidants have numerous health benefits including reducing the potential for heart disease and preventing or slowing the damage of cells.
All of the above are great reasons to carry on drinking far too much coffee every day but it is worth noting that adding sugar to your coffee eliminates some of the potential health benefits just mentioned so I would recommend trying to sticking to plain old milk or black coffee.
Now that you’ve persuaded yourself that coffee is the elixir of life this is how I manage to have a constant supply of coffee without going through the effort of grinding and brewing it etc, wherever I am, not matter if I’m at home or far away from a kettle or coffee shop – cold brew. While I really like a hot cup of strong, black coffee in the mornings (and throughout the day) I have tentatively ventured into the world of iced coffee – favouring the caramel iced frappe at McDonalds in all its heart attack inducing goodness. Cold or iced coffee is perfect for those hot summer months, as a post-workout cool down or even just to carry around in a flask without worrying about it getting cold and it certainly requires less effort and less expense to make than an ordinary cup of hot coffee, however iced coffee is not actually the same thing as cold brew (although yes, they are both cold forms of coffee) and there are a couple of reasons why cold brew should actually taste better and be more healthy to boot:
- Iced coffee is coffee brewed with hot water and then cooled down whereas cold brew was always cold, the ground coffee never touched hot water. The hot water breaks down certain chemicals/compounds within coffee which lead to a slightly more bitter, acidic taste. Some people may favour this and especially in hot coffee it is less noticeable, but when drinking cold coffee these flavours are more obvious, as a consequence cold brew coffee is often smoother and naturally sweeter.
- Because iced coffee is brewed like normal hot coffee and then cooled (normally with ice) it has a much shorter brewing time of only a couple of minutes whereas cold brew needs to be left for 12-15 hours for the full flavour to be extracted. While this may initially seem like a downside for cold brew it means you can easily make very large batches for the whole week and just leave them to get on with it overnight.
- The longer brewing time and other chemistry related factors mean that the end result of cold brew is a concentrate (like with squash) which you can then mix with water or milk normally with a ratio of 50/50. In contrast iced coffee is already at the optimum coffee:water ratio meaning that when it is served with ice or diluted it can sometimes end up being a bit watery and/or not as strong as you might like.
- To combat watery iced coffee with a bitter taste, almost all store bought or cafe iced coffee has sugar/sweeteners added to them (like my McDonalds iced frappe or even other healthier looking iced coffees) meaning that many of the benefits of drinking coffee mentioned at the beginning of this article are cancelled out. Cold brew retains the strong flavours you want without the same bitterness as iced coffee meaning that there is no need for additives or sugars in compensation, therefore cold brew is the answer to a healthy cold coffee and iced coffee should be avoided.
At this point you’ve either seen the light or you haven’t. If you’re the latter then I recommend starting from the beginning of this article and paying more attention or exiting the page and reading a different post, if you’re the former then I expect you’d like me to hurry up and provide you with a cold brew recipe. Fear not.
- Grab a large bottle (or mason jar) – something you can seal – a 2 litre bottle lasts me about 5 large glasses so guesstimate to begin with and figure out how much you’ll get through in a week.
- You want a 1:5 ratio of coffee to water so figure out what that would be for your container.
- Grind your coffee beans if they aren’t already (a reasonably course grind works best) and pour the right amount into said container.
- Run your tap and fill up the rest of the container leaving a bit of room at the top so that you can shake the mixture.
- Seal the container and shake well.
- Leave the mixture to brew for 12-15 hours at room temperature (obviously not on the oven or near the toaster).
- Filter the finished brew using a normal coffee filter (you can use a french press if you have one) or via decanting.
- Place filtered coffee in the fridge to chill.
- Can be drunk straight but I recommend diluting it with milk or water.