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Sipping Your Risk Away?

A cascade of scientific studies has linked coffee with a reduced risk of diabetes for more than a decade. Scientists in China recently used a strong, representative sample to pull it all together. They culled data from over a million individuals, and integrated and re-examined results to yield an even larger picture. In technical terms, the process is called a “meta-analysis” but, in practice, it’s like doing a new study that is much wider in reach and broader in scope.

The conclusions confirmed what many scientists have been saying all along – that there is an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of developing diabetes. In laymen’s terms, that means that as coffee consumption goes up, the risk of diabetes comes down.

Pooling data from 30 studies, the Qingdao University team concluded that, on average, coffee appears to reduce the risk of developing diabetes by about one-third. Put another way, they affirmed a 12% decrease in risk for every two cups of coffee consumed.

The Chinese study’s unique contribution is a conclusion based on high-quality studies and a very large subject pool. Reviewing only “prospective studies,” which examine behaviors and outcomes going forward rather than recording past events, the team eliminated risks of hazy recall and subject selection bias that other types of studies allow. That makes the outcomes a broad confirmation of what many scientists have found individually since about 2002.

Decade of Evidence
The literature from which the new study was drawn is extensive. Scores of studies from around the world have all come to the same conclusion – that coffee appears to have a protective effect against diabetes that has something to do with the sugar uptake system in the body. The specific “pathways” vary, but they now appear to point to the same chemical source – the chlorogenic acids found naturally in coffee.

The link between coffee and reduced diabetes risk dates back to a Dutch study done in 2002. Scientists at Vrije University in Amsterdam found that men and women who drank seven cups of coffee a day were half as likely to develop the disease as those who drank two cups or fewer. In 2003, a Harvard study confirmed the findings, finding that men who drank six or more cups of coffee a day had a 54% lower risk of becoming diabetic, while those who drank four or more cups showed a 29% lower risk. At this stage in the research history, scientists looked to caffeine as the source, citing the effect it has on human energy expenditure. But, they also noted that other coffee compounds, including potassium, niacin and magnesium, might positively affect sugar metabolism.

In 2004, a Finnish study found that men who drank three to four cups of coffee a day reduced their diabetes risk by 27%, while women did so by 29%. The more they drank, the higher was the protection, too – men who drank 10 or more cups reducing their risk by 55% and women by 80%. Later that year, a Swedish study also found a lower diabetes risk among heavier coffee drinkers. Men who drank five or more cups a day showed a 40% lower incidence than those who consumed two or fewer cups. For women, the risk reduction was 74% for those who drank five or more cups versus two or less.

The next year found NCA joining with European colleagues to fund two studies to dig deeper into the intriguing data. The American study explored glucose uptake in rats, with results showing that the risk reduction was unique to coffee and not caffeine, with decaf demonstrating the same protective effect. In the European study, coffee’s effect on human glucose tolerance and gastrointestinal hormones was studied, and results showed a positive effect on blood glucose levels that was linked to the availability and chemical action of chlorogenic acids in coffee.

The University of Minnesota was next with a study that found diabetes risk reduction among postmenopausal women – 22% for six or more cups, 16% for four to five cups, and 4% for one to three. Decaf results were even stronger, suggesting that a unique coffee compound was at work. Those drinking six plus cups of decaf saw a 34% reduction in risk, 41% at four to five cups and 2% at one to three. Caffeine alone yielded no protective effect. The researchers now looked to chlorogenic acid as the root of the protection, reducing glucose absorption or inhibiting liver hormone activity. The scientists also pointed to other powerful antioxidant properties , which can protect certain pancreatic cells from damage or promote insulin sensitivity, thereby delaying or preventing diabetes onset.

Later that year, a study at the University of California at San Diego expanded evidence by finding a risk reduction among pre-diabetic subjects that was even stronger than for those with normal fasting blood sugar levels. Pre-diabetics exhibited a 69% reduced risk of developing diabetes, while those with normal sugar levels showed a 62% reduced risk.

Other, more recent studies, have added to the body of evidence. In 2011, researchers at Nagoya University in Japan found that coffee and caffeine improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in rats whose glucose tolerance had been impaired by diet. The findings enhance prior evidence that coffee and caffeine help regulate hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, in spontaneously diabetic animals.

Earlier this year, Brazilian scientists concluded that coffee reduces blood sugar and cholesterol levels associated with diabetes. The study looked at the impact of coffee on diabetic and non-diabetic rats, finding that the rats who drank coffee had lower levels of glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, creatinine, uric acid and other metabolic markers – for example a 40% decrease in levels of triglycerides and 31% for urea. Looking at the mechanisms behind the protection, the researchers cited the inhibition of sugar transporters by chlorogenic acid and sodium, and other compounds that impact glucose levels. They also noted that coffee is packed with polyphenols, strong antioxidant compounds that reduce the cellular damage by free radicals which, in turn, plays a role in the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.

So, just like the Chinese scientists, if you put all this data together, you come up with a very intriguing conclusion. While the root cause is still not totally understood, the consensus on the impact is extensive. So, next time you’re sipping your coffee, think about the time, effort, energy, talent, and even geographic reach of the work that’s been done, and how all the evidence leads to the same place. The force of science is with you if think you’re sipping your risk away.

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On The Table

This morning, did you sip a Sidamo from Ethiopia, hit back a Huehuetenango from Guatemala, or maybe tipple a Tarrazù from Costa Rica? Did your coffee come from Africa, Asia or South America?

These single-origin coffees, alongside current industry issues, were on the table in Washington this week. NCA brought coffee – the beverage and the business – to the halls of Congress. At the biennial NCA Coffee on the Hill event, members joined members of Congress, their staff members, foreign diplomats and executive branch personnel to meet, greet , enjoy coffee and discuss related issues.

Coffee on the Hill is an event designed to afford NCA members an opportunity to interface with their legislators and legislative staffs to discuss industry-wide as well as local issues affecting their business. The event also puts the U.S. coffee industry front and center in the eyes and ears – not to mention palates – of government decision makers and influencers. Also invited to the event are diplomats and diplomatic staffs of coffee-producing countries, as well as Executive Branch officials from agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, U.S. Trade Representative’s Office and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The October 23 event took place in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. The building is one of several that house offices of members of the House of Representatives and Senate. The tables were lined with pots of freshly brewed and served coffee, identified by their country of origin. Along with the brewed coffee, samples of the green beans and roasted beans were also on display.

Bringing a flavor of a different kind to the event were demonstrations of “cupping” and “pourover” coffee preparation. Cupping is the process by which highly trained experts taste coffees to determine their flavor profiles for the purposes of buying coffee beans or for determining which coffees to use in a roaster’s proprietary blends. Pourover is the latest craze in coffee brewing, consisting of deceptively simple-looking equipment used with great precision and expertise. The filters are wet with 200 degree water, freshly ground coffee is added, a quick water soaking is administered followed by a timed pause to allow the coffee to de-gas, which increases its absorptive properties, the remaining water is filtered through the grinds, and finally the coffee is robustly swirled in the carafe to homogenize the extraction outcomes.

Visitors to the event also received a detailed primer on the significance of the coffee industry to the U.S. and world economies, as well as a description of the key issues currently facing the coffee business. This year’s highlighted issues included: Congressional acknowledgment of the distinction between coffee consumption and caffeine ingestion in energy products at a time when government officials take a look at overall caffeine consumption; Congressional support for U.S. agricultural programs that support sustainability; Congressional funding of the Foreign Agricultural Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (FAS) and USAID to support efforts promoting coffee production that sustains farmers and the coffee supply chain; Congressional support for federal legislation that would establish a national standard that affirms the safety of foods developed using bioengineering technologies; Congressional dedication to working toward the passage of Free Trade Agreements with other nations and support for treaty provisions that would confer U.S. origin on coffee roasted in the U.S.; and continued Congressional commitment to an active role for the U.S. as a member of the International Coffee Organization (ICO). NCA is part of the official United States delegation to the ICO.

The event attracted about 500 participants, including several members of Congress and foreign dignitaries. Coffees on hand included those from Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Rwanda.

So, next time you sip that Sidamo or tipple that Tarrazù, you may well ponder on the universe of individuals, nations, cooperative processes and governmental issues that make up the world of coffee. Perhaps, too, you’ll reflect not only on the complexity of the flavor, but also the complexity behind its arrival in your cup.

 

 

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Is Coffee Liver’s Firewall?

The research is rampant with evidence about coffee’s protective effects on the liver. Numerous studies from around the world have come to the same conclusion – coffee somehow shields the liver from inflammatory damage and the diseases that can result.

Over the last decade, researchers have found that coffee reduces the risk of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, fibrosis and liver cancer. Reduced risk of liver disease also carries through for higher risk individuals, such as those with diabetes, iron overload, obesity, viral hepatitis and high alcohol consumption. Researchers also found that coffee reduces the risk of liver cancer, including among those with risk factors such as pre-existing cirrhosis or hepatitis.

To boil complex chemistry down to a simple analogy, coffee appears to act as a “firewall” that blocks an enzyme implicated in liver disease. The name – alanine aminotransferase – may be hard to pronounce, but the impact appears clear. And, the compound in coffee that seems to deliver the punch is a strong antioxidant called chlorogenic acid.

Fatty Liver Disease
The latest study on the subject is a review paper from scientists in Turkey. Scouring the literature, the researchers confirm that coffee intake appears to reduce the risk of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), a condition that can lead to NAFLD.

All of the literature was in agreement – there is an inverse relationship between coffee intake and NAFLD. That means coffee consumption is linked to reducing the risk for the development of NAFLD. The preponderance of evidence also found that coffee reduces the risk of MetS.

As for the source of the protection, the scientists cited coffee’s strong antioxidant properties. In fact, several coffee components appear to scavenge free radicals, which in turn could contribute to the development of NAFLD. However, the researchers also cite an independent protective effect on the liver delivered by caffeine.

Complex Chemistry
In presenting their findings, the researchers noted that coffee is a very complex beverage made up of about 1,500 components. They include many antioxidants and other physiologically active compounds. It’s a long list that includes phenolic polymers, polysaccharides, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, cafestol, kahweol, and minerals. Interestingly, caffeine accounts for just 1% of what’s in the brew.

So, the next time you have that morning mug of coffee, you’ll know you’re sipping a complex beverage that may pack a powerful punch of protection for your liver. Is your firewall engaged?

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Defining Sustainability

With climate change and environmental disasters such as the Fukushima reactor meltdown and the Gulf oil spill making international headlines, “sustainability” has become a media buzzword. It’s also bandied about in connection with agricultural methods that preserve the land, market conditions that enable producers to support their families and cultures, and technologies that foster a healthy supply of quality products.

It’s also being discussed in probably every boardroom of every major corporation in the U.S. and beyond. There is enormous pressure on industries to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability as a key element of responsible corporate citizenship. As the public becomes ever more aware of cultural, environmental and socioeconomic issues in the developing world, the pressure to deploy sustainable programs and strategies continues to ramp up.

But, what does “sustainability” really mean? You’ve probably heard the word at least 100 times already this month, or read it in online or in print media without giving its fundamental definition a second thought.

Generation Y’s preferred source for quick information – Wikipedia – simply and dismissively defines “sustainability” as: “the capacity to endure.” However, the grammarians and scholars at Merriam-Webster go much further, defining “sustainable” (from which “sustainability” is derived) as: “relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

Merriam-Webster’s definition is appropriately open-ended since “resource” can include people, the land, the environment, natural resources, cultures and social institutions. It also embraces the many individual elements that comprise the concept. For the coffee industry and its executives, the definition embraces the crucial components of a sustainable coffee supply chain – the well-being of farmers, long-term support for their families and communities, safe and healthy agricultural methods and outcomes, and an ample supply of quality coffees produced in a responsible way.

Barring some dramatic societal and cultural shifts, there will always be a consumer demand for coffee. However, ongoing environmental and natural threats in coffee-producing regions, such as the specter of coffee rust which is currently plaguing Central America, are serious threats to the long-term health of coffee production. Thus, it’s our responsibility to ensure a sustainable supply of quality coffees for years to come. That is the underlying goal of NCA’s sustainability initiatives – to ensure the future of the coffee industry.

NCA has brought sustainability into sharper focus in 2013, developing the following mission statement earlier this year:

Ensure that coffee is grown and traded in a way which ensures that future generations can be sustained economically, environmentally, and socially through its production.

This summer, NCA initiated a Sustainability Task Force of industry professionals to help develop potential goals and action points.

At the meeting, participants from the private sector, non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and non-profit groups met in NCA’s New York offices to start the ball rolling. The goal was to gather input and exchange ideas, and address several basic questions. What does sustainability mean to you? How can NCA help you achieve your sustainable development goals and objectives?

Going forward, the task force will convene periodically, seeking to define NCA’s role more precisely as a facilitator and center of knowledge for coffee sustainability. In the meantime, NCA is working on developing an online toolkit of information, knowledge and resources for those with questions and concerns about sustainable growth.

As a matter of policy, NCA plans to use its role as the U.S. coffee industry’s pre-eminent trade association to collaborate with industry leaders and promote the long-term sustainable growth and development of the coffee industry. NCA is committed to continuing to work to ensure that coffee production is carried out in a way that future generations can be sustained economically, environmentally and socially through its production, in line with NCA’s sustainability mission.

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The Science Has It

Scientific studies on coffee and health emerge daily from laboratories around the world. It’s typically good news, with more scientifically confirmed associations between coffee and disease-fighting properties. It’s a big switch from ten or fifteen years ago, when negative studies continued to feed the old myths that have long been disproven.

What changed, simply put, is that science got better. Refined methodologies enabled scientists to account for and separate out the effect of other risk factors, like smoking and poor cardiovascular fitness. As coffee was isolated out of the mix, it became increasingly clear that the myths had come from other sources, or “confounding factors” as they’re called.

But even scientists are not perfect, it seems, and old habits can creep in. One recent study appears to have gone retro, without the cachet the term has in style and fashion. The study by scientists at the University of South Carolina, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, not only did not separate out typical confounding factors, but acknowledged their prevalence in the population they studied. In another departure from standard research protocol, they presented findings limited to a subgroup that was not previously identified for study. Instead, a subgroup was subsequently carved out because data, as applied to that group alone, could yield a reportable finding.

Out of Step
The study presented a finding of a 21% increase in mortality among subjects under 55 years of age who drank more than 28 cups of coffee a week. The research team confirmed, however, that the subjects were overweight or obese, had lower cardiovascular fitness levels, and tended to smoke. The scientists in fact stated that those who consumed higher amounts of coffee were more likely to smoke and had lower levels of cardiovascular fitness. They also state in the paper that, “The only marginally significant association of coffee consumption and all-cause mortality was observed in [overweight/obese] men … who consumed more than 28 cups of coffee per week.” No other group of coffee drinkers was at increased risk. The authors also state that “Smoking is likely to be one of the most important factors to cause residual confounding in this investigation.”

Not surprisingly, these findings are totally out of step with the vast preponderance of the scientific literature. Rather, the prevailing body of scientific evidence affirms that coffee is associated with a lower risk of dying at a young age. The largest-ever analysis of coffee and mortality found a clear connection between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of dying from any cause. The findings, published just last year, spanned all consumption levels among 400,000 women and men. Compared to men who drank no coffee, those who drank two to three cups of coffee each day has a 10% mortality reduction, while those who drank four to five cups daily had a 12% mortality reduction. In women, the mortality reductions were even more prominent, with those who drank two to three cups of coffee each day having a 13% mortality reduction, while those who drank four to five cups daily had a 16% mortality reduction. Such favorable mortality risk reductions held across all causes, as well as for specific causes including heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke and diabetes.

Additionally, a very recent meta-analysis assessed 23 independent studies and concluded that coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of mortality from all causes than people who do not drink coffee. A meta-analysis is a study that compiles data and subjects from multiple studies, and applies a fresh analysis to yield a wider and more comprehensive examination of the findings.

Media Scepticism
Interestingly, the news media covered the story with more than ample scepticism. Fifteen years ago, a study like this one would likely have sparked massive, negative media attention that drew upon the generally negative posture taken toward coffee and health. Instead, the tenor of the current coverage was notably even-handed, if not leaning positive. Typically, reporters zeroed in on the study’s methodological flaws and then segued quickly into the now well established findings linking coffee with significant health benefits.

Clearly, attitudes have changed along with scientific methodologies. What could have been a major media crisis around a scathing critique of coffee and caffeine instead turned out to be a nonstarter. Apparently, years of positive news about coffee and health had cultivated a widely accepted positive view of coffee.

Perhaps due to efforts set in motion by NCA with its 2003-07 Coffee Delivers! campaign, which took the emerging good news out of scientific journals and into public hands, audiences now appear to err on the side of coffee’s health benefits rather than proposed risks. Audiences appear now to view a negative study almost as a suspicious outlier rather than a mainsteam confirmation of bad news. The knee-jerk reaction appears now to support coffee rather than attack. Clearly, the ayes have it. And so does science.

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Coffee, not Caffeine

There’s always a lot to do in any given day – or so it seems. Household chores, work deadlines, family demands, financial pressures, to name just a few. So, it’s no surprise that many of us crave an extra dollop of energy or a dash more stamina. Happily, there’s a natural compound that helps supply the little boost we seek.

Caffeine is found in varying amounts in the leaves, seeds and fruit of a variety of plants, including coffee, cocoa, tea, kola and guaranà. Many foods and beverages made from these plants retain the source caffeine, along with hundreds of other natural plant compounds including proteins, carbohydrates, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Coffee, for example, contains about 2,000 compounds, including some potent antioxidants that science says deliver some significant health benefits.

While many look to their morning coffee for the added energy or stamina they seek, caffeine accounts for just 2% of coffee’s makeup and is just one aspect of consumers’ much broader engagement with the beverage. Market research shows that consumers reach for coffee for multiple reasons, even satisfying different needs for different occasions or dayparts. Consumers may look for a simple sip to get the day started, a gourmet coffee beverage at lunch and a high-end single-origin taste experience at dinner. And consumer appetite for an expanding universe of taste, variety, experience and occasion seems to outpace the ever-broadening menu.

This complex, personal and even sensual relationship with coffee makes the consumer interface unique. Even beyond taste and variety, there are cultural and social attributes that contribute to the overall coffee experience. Coffee is craved, savored, shared. It’s a travel companion on morning commutes and business trips. It’s an anchor for social meetings, discussions groups, even first dates.

This larger relationship with coffee explains why consumption habits are distinctive. By nature, coffee is prepared and served, blended to taste, sipped, lingered over, even dallied with over conversation. The coffee experience is much greater than the sum of its 2,000 parts. Even as a morning or afternoon pick-me-up, coffee is a lot more than the 2% that is caffeine.

That sets coffee apart from a growing list of foods, beverages and supplements that are geared to delivering caffeine. Coffee’s rich, complex and unsweetened taste does not lend itself to quick or rapid consumption. Coffee is rarely, if ever, “chugged,” but sipped over time by nature of its flavor as well as established cultural and social habits. Energy drinks, on the other hand, are made available as a slightly chilled beverage in small volume containers, designed for quick and easy ingestion. Unlike intrinsic caffeine in small proportions in coffee, caffeine, plus other minerals and sugar, are added to energy drinks to provide the intended “boost” consumers seek in the product.

Also, unlike energy drinks and supplements, coffee drinking is inherently self-limiting. The stimulating effects of coffee’s caffeine become evident to coffee consumers gradually, and continued consumption wanes naturally when tolerance levels are felt. Energy-drink consumers, on the other hand, are vulnerable to exceeding caffeine tolerance levels before natural physical effects are perceived. Also, coffee consumers are highly familiar with modulating caffeine intake for individual comfort levels. These distinctions are fundamental to consumer awareness and staying within one’s caffeine comfort zone

Coffee is a very complex beverage that delivers a wealth of natural benefits. That morning boost is one of them, but just a small part of a much larger story with strong roots in its chemical makeup, physical properties, consumer engagement and cultural accoutrements. Coffee is many things to many people, far outweighing the 2% that is caffeine. It’s two thousand compounds, blended naturally into a beverage that is much more than the sum of its parts.

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Stars, Stripes — and Beans?

As we celebrate the nation’s 237th birthday, it’s time that coffee gets a nod for its historic role in early American history. It’s often said that seeds of revolution (you’ll excuse the pun) were planted in heady discussions in the coffeehouses of Europe. Essentially, the social media of its day, European coffeehouses during the 17th and 18th centuries were indeed hotbeds of political discussion and enlightened discourse.

It’s a tradition that crossed the Atlantic with the colonists, although there’s more to coffee’s role in the American experience.

As you probably already know, coffee is an Old World plant that had to be imported to the Americas. During the 17th century, Britons such as the famed Captain James Cook and William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, saw to it that coffee was available in the colonies. At the same time, a French naval officer brought the first live coffee plant to the Americas, eventually starting the first New World coffee plantation on the Caribbean island of Martinique.

During the pre-Revolutionary period, American coffeehouses served as important meeting places. As early as 1709, the General Assembly of the Colony of New York held meetings in coffeehouses in present-day Lower Manhattan. History notes that some of the actual planning for the American Revolution took place in the coffeehouses of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.

But, coffee wouldn’t yet get its full patriotic stripes for another 75 years.

Echoes of the Old World sustained tea as the preferred drink in the colonies for many years. But as the British pushed the limits of economic domination, tea became the flashpoint of rebellion. After the famous Boston Tea Party in 1773, tea took on the symbol of the crown and its excesses. Colonial leaders such as John Adams, who would go on to become our second President, advocated for a boycott of tea. Adams himself went so far as to write “Tea must be universally renounced and I must be weaned, and the sooner the better.”

Through the efforts of leaders such as Adams, colonists eventually switched over to coffee. By the time the American Revolution ended 10 years later in 1783, Americans had become so used to coffee that there was hardly any market for tea.

Today, 83% of Americans say they drink coffee, 63% of them every day, according to NCA consumption tracking data. Coffeehouses are on every corner (although much of the world’s revolutionary discourse has moved to Twitter, it seems). But, coffee is nearly synonymous with American culture, an icon of morning routines and evening rituals, culinary enjoyment and social interaction, innovative menu ideas and societal norms and niceties. It is an intrinsic part of American lore, legend and song.

So, as you sip your coffee on Independence Day, savor the richness of history along with the aroma.

Happy July 4th from NCA!

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Following Coffee?

Consumers are jumping in to follow coffee – not the beverage alone, but also the culture and the experience. There’s a whole world that’s grown up around coffee – morning rites, social situations, cultural norms, identifiable icons and images, celebrated occasions and experiences, epicurean enjoyment, and multi-faceted associations with fun and frivolity.

Capturing the world of coffee is like herding cats. But, NCA’s new online coffeehouse concept has taken on the task. And, the early results show that it’s working deliciously.

MyVirtualCoffeehouse
In just four months, MyVirtualCoffeehouse.com has delivered a plethora of rich content, as well as hundreds of Facebook and Twitter posts that celebrate all aspects of the coffee experience. There’s material from the sublime to the whimsical, technical to the hilarious, and everything in between. The connection is coffee and the lifestyle that has grown up around it. Here are just a few examples of what you can find:

·         The latest episode of Season 2 of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

·         Coffee-based recipes and a chance to vote for the winner of the “Everything Tastes Better With Coffee” recipe contest

·         Latest findings of scientists linking coffee with significant health benefits

·         Funny videos and cartoons on coffee likes, habits and legends

·         Explanations behind coffee history and lore – like why we call it “joe”

·         Efforts to make sure coffee is grown in a sustainable way, and information about the certifications that prove it

·         Original music, like what you might hear at your local coffeehouse

·         Opportunities to buy coffee-related things at good prices – like coffee-themed shoes and coffee jewelry

·         Quirky coffee news items, such as what your coffee order may say about your personality and which city ranks top in coffee consumption

·         Information about how coffee is grown, harvested and processed

·         Coffee-centric quizzes, games and contests to test your coffee IQ and win gift cards and other prizes.

·         Useful tips on brewing methods and techniques

And, that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. New content is being posted every day. Don’t miss a trick – or, for that matter, a fact, figure, cartoon, tip, recipe . . . .

Exploding Audience

An exploding number of consumers are jumping online to get the full coffee experience. Since MyVirtualCoffeehouse.comlaunched in early February, monthly visits have grown exponentially:

February

March

Apr

May

1,237

2,577

3,974

22,421

 MyVirtualCoffeehouse also has robust social media presence with Facebook and Twitter extension pages. Consumers partaking of the experience has ramped up exponentially:

FACEBOOK

Likes

February

March

Apr

May

June

0

2,000

4,614

7,184

7,848

TWITTER

Followers

February

March

Apr

May

June

0

5,000

23,800

26,963

38,438

Here’s what to do:

• Visit www.MyVirtualCoffeehouse.com
• “Like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/iVirtualCoffee
• “Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/VirtualCoffee

See you in the coffeehouse if only you jump online!

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Coffee Found to Ease Diabetes Effects

A new study confirms that coffee helps reduce the ill effects of diabetes and pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome. Measuring blood markers that indicate related health consequences, Brazilian scientists concluded that coffee has a measurable, protective effect. That protection, they believe, comes from coffee’s well-established leveling effect on sugar and fat levels in the blood.

The researchers fed coffee to laboratory rats chosen for their genetic predisposition to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The animals were separated into two groups – those with diabetes and those without – each of which was further divided into those fed only water and those fed coffee. Among the diabetic rats who were fed coffee, there was a significant blood sugar reduction within 21 days. There was also a reduction in overall blood cholesterol level of 5%, and a decrease of about 40% in triglycerides.

Strong, positive effects were also found when kidney function markers were measured. Blood urea, an indicator of kidney damage, was reduced by about 31% in the diabetic group. The levels of creatinine, another indicator of kidney malfunction disease, were also lowered by about 31%. Yet another indicator of kidney problems, uric acid, was reduced among the treated diabetic group to the levels of the non-diabetic, untreated group. These findings led the scientists to conclude that “the coffee drink administered actually showed benefits in protecting the kidney of these animals.”

The researchers also discussed the ways coffee is thought to deliver these beneficial effects against diabetic health consequences. Essentially, the benefits stem from coffee’s well-known regulation of sugar metabolism. As for the way coffee regulates blood sugar, theories center around important components of coffee’s 2,000 chemical components, including: chlorogenic acid, which retards sugar “transporter” chemicals in the intestines; magnesium, which positively impacts glucose tolerance; and coffee’s many antioxidants, which neutralize so-called free radical cells that create the “oxidative stress” known to play a role in the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.

The study, Influence of Coffee Brew in Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes was published in Plant Foods in Human Nutrition in May. Lead by Dr. Sheila Andrade Abrahão, the Brazilian team concluded that “the coffee beverage showed an important effect in some markers of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.” However, they also caution that more animal and human studies are needed to clarify the causal connection.

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The Fourth Space?

The coffee shop has become a paradigm of the “third space” – neither home nor work or school, but a place where you can relax, socialize, be productive and have some fun. In a new twist, you can take the shop on the road and “remote in” to the experience.

MyVirtualCoffeehouse.com brings the coffeehouse experience online. The site delivers the sights, sounds and accoutrements of the coffee shop to your desk or mobile device. It’s an interactive platform where you can revel in coffee culture and its many elements – culinary, social, and cultural.

Learn more about coffee, get the scoop on new trends and tastes, listen to original music, get tips and bargains on unique coffee-related items, interact with fellow coffee enthusiasts, share content, find recipes, and enter contests.

And, there’s more. MyVirtualCoffeehouse.com has a strong presence on social media as well. Daily posts on Facebook (www.facebook.com/iVirtualCoffee) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/iVirtualCoffee) share a potpourri of fun, informative, quirky and always entertaining tidbits on coffee, as well as content from the MyVirtualCoffeehouse website.

The virtual coffeehouse community is growing rapidly. Facebook “likes” have jumped from none to nearly 8,000 since the page was launched in February. User-initiated activity is up by about 6000%, and unique visitors by 1000%. Twitter followers total nearly 27,000, up 20,000 over the last eight weeks alone.

A lot of good stuff pivots around the coffee experience. Don’t miss out on the fun:
• Visit www.MyVirtualCoffeehouse.com
• Log on and “like” www.facebook.com/iVirtualCoffee
• Begin following www.twitter.com/iVirtualCoffee.

Could MyVirtualCoffeehouse be coffee’s new, “fourth space?” Be part of the wave that is quickly turning that question into a phenomenon.

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