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COFFEE
 

**Coffee Tree Coffea arabica L.
Coffee trees are small, growing only to about 12 feet, but they are beautiful with deep green shiny leaves and small fragrant white flowers. Even the berries when ripe and red make the tree very appealing. It is a member of the same family as ixora (see the I Page), but I think it is much more attractive. Coffee beans are usually harvested in late fall or early winter after they've turned fully red. After the outer pulp is removed, the beans are allowed to ferment to more easily remove the soft seed covering. The beans are then dried in the sun and later winnowed in the wind to remove the dried skins. Roasting coffee is the next phase and maybe the most interesting as it will dramatically affect the flavor. Before being ground, coffee can be stored for several months without losing its flavor.
Benefits:
   
Coffee is one of my true loves. I grew up from the age of five drinking a cup of coffee with milk and sugar before leaving for school. At the time, it was said that I would end up short and not so bright, never once having had a breakfast until it was time for brunch. Well, I'm 5'10 and smart enough, so sometimes the experts aren't so right. That's a good thing to remember when reading about the marvels or dangers of any food. If you feel better after enjoying a cup of coffee than you did before, that in itself tells you that it's probably just fine to enjoy it. If you get jittery or have trouble sleeping, that too is something your body is telling you and if you listen you'll do just fine.
      Coffee is now being touted as a wonderful alternative to antidepressants by some recent researchers at the equally touted Harvard University where some years ago its "renowned researchers" declared that drinking coffee was the route to dying of cancer. Oops. Right now or right then?
      Thousands of research reports on coffee have been published including two I remember well from decades ago, Harvard at the time seemed to be saying that coffee would be the death of you while at the same time Yale was preaching the curative benefits of coffee. At the time I wasn't smart enough to be looking at the funding sources for these research findings. Now I am and it does make a difference in how I view what I read.
       All that being said, the most recent article on coffee I read b
y Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D., Associate Nutrition Editor at EatingWell Magazine who had some thoughts on coffee. She made these points,
       "1. It protects your heart: Moderate coffee drinkers (1 to 3 cups/day) have lower rates of stroke than noncoffee drinkers, an effect linked to coffee’s antioxidants. Coffee has more antioxidants per serving than blueberries, making it the biggest source of antioxidants in American diets. All those antioxidants may help suppress the damaging effect of inflammation on arteries. Immediately after drinking it, coffee raises your blood pressure and heart rate, but over the long term, it actually may lower blood pressure as coffee’s antioxidants activate nitric oxide, widening blood vessels.
      2. It diverts diabetes: Those antioxidants (chlorogenic acid and quinides, specifically) play another role: boosting your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar. In fact, people who drink 4 or more cups of coffee each day may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to some studies. Other studies have shown that caffeine can blunt the insulin-sensitivity boost, so if you do drink several cups a day, try mixing in decaf occasionally.
       3. Your liver loves it: OK, so the research here is limited, but it looks like the more coffee people drink, the lower their incidence of cirrhosis and other liver diseases. One analysis of nine studies found that every 2-cup increase in daily coffee intake reduced liver cancer risk by 43 percent. Again, it’s those antioxidants—chlorogenic and caffeic acids—and caffeine that might prevent liver inflammation and inhibit cancer cells.
       4. It boosts your brain power: Drinking between 1 and 5 cups a day (admittedly a big range) may help reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s disease, studies suggest. Those antioxidants may ward off brain cell damage and help the neurotransmitters involved in cognitive function to work better.
       5. It helps your headaches: And not just the withdrawal headaches caused by skipping your daily dose of caffeine! Studies show that 200 milligrams of caffeine—about the amount in 16 ounces of brewed coffee—provides relief from headaches, including migraines. Exactly how caffeine relieves headaches isn’t clear. But scientists do know that caffeine boosts the activity of brain cells, causing surrounding blood vessels to constrict. One theory is that this constriction helps to relieve the pressure that causes the pain, says Robert Shapiro, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and director of the Headache Clinic at the University of Vermont Medical School."
Diseases: Coffee is a major export crop for Guatemala. In the last couple of years the plants have been devastated by a fungus called "coffee rust" which causes leaves to fall, weakening the plants which then produce fewer and poorer quality coffee beans.
Planting and Care: Coffee grows best in a semi shady place with cool summery temperatures and lots of humidity and rainfall or routine watering. I have found them very easy to grow and very attractive as centerpiece plants in shady areas of the garden where it is sometimes difficult to find something special.
Text and Photographs Copyrighted ©KO2008/2010 and ©GreenGardeningCookingCuring.com 2014

Photographed: At the Hotel San Buenaventura at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

Photographed: At the Hotel San Buenaventura at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

 

Photographed: At the Hotel San Buenaventura at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

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