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Wednesday, August 09, 2017


Colombians grow it; Bedouins chew it. Africans hoe it; Americans brew it. Coffee, a third world child adopted by Americans, is without question a favorite American beverage. In my case, coffee and I have had a long love affair.

Imagine the despair a few years ago when some anxious pessimists declared caffeine a health hazard adding it to an ever-growing list of no-no’s.

I grew up on coffee -- almost. Looking back, it is easy to understand why coffee is an adult beverage. Kids just don’t have a taste for “coffea arabica” or “coffea canephora.”

As a freshman in college I began experimenting with various beverages including coffee. After all, I was a young adult on my own making my own decisions. Slaving over books late at night I took coffee seriously for the first time -- with lots of cream and sugar. It was the effect I sought, not the taste.

Soon after college I entered the US Army. The Army does some things right and some things less than perfect. Making coffee is one thing it does right. Night or day, in garrison or in the field, by the pot or by the gallon, hot coffee -- good hot coffee -- was always on hand. Enter the domain of a tough First Sergeant and the atmosphere mellows with fresh perked coffee. Stop by the dining facility (“mess hall” to old soldiers) and you enter a world graced with the fragrance of brewing java.

How many times on field exercises did a canteen cup of hot coffee make a night in the rain a bit more bearable? How many times in Korea and Vietnam did a packet of C ration instant coffee added to a canteen cup of hot water bring solace to this soldier?

My love affair with coffee continued long after Army days. Mid-morning coffee with friends around a table brightens the day. A leisurely start on Saturday morning begins with a fragrant cup of java. A fine dinner calls for a fine cup of coffee with dessert.

Gift buying for coffee drinkers is easy. A new mug, some excellent exotic blend of coffee or a new coffee bean grinder are appreciated. A few years ago on Christmas morning I was greeted with a new coffee maker. It was a drip model with a built-in timer – the in thing at the time. I made all preparations the evening before retiring. The next morning the coffee began brewing automatically at the prescribed time. Awaking to the delicious aroma of fresh-brewed coffee can’t be beat.

My son-in-law passed a stringent test I set for any young man seeking my daughter’s hand in marriage. He had to be a coffee lover. In fact, he is a coffee connoisseur of sorts. He knows his coffee, he knows how to roast it and he knows how to brew it. Any lad sensitive enough to care for his coffee is sensitive enough to care for my daughter. And that is OK with me.

Self-appointed health police would divorce me from my coffee. Fortunately for every coffee lover serious medical research exonerated caffeine in the wake of the anti-caffeine uproar.

The “Journal of the American Medical Association,” “New England Journal of Medicine,” “American Journal of Epidemiology” and many other medical and nutrition publications dispel criticism of caffeine. From the United States and abroad from the 1980s through today extensive research findings continue to report advantages of coffee that relegate attacks on caffeine to the dust bin of urban legends. Research indicates coffee and caffeine are not risk factors for cardiovascular disease, coronary disease, or stroke. Nor is caffeine a risk to women’s health including osteoporosis, breast disease, and reproductive health. Caffeine can help deter formation of gall stones, cirrhosis of the liver and cancers in the digestive tract. Coffee contains more anti-oxidants than green tea, is an excellent anti-depressant and improves energy levels for both mental and physical activity.

Coffee isn’t the bugaboo some Chicken Littles made it out to be a few years ago. The only apparent danger posed by coffee is from some dolt who drops a cup of the hot stuff in their lap and then wants to sue.

Relax and enjoy a cup o’ joe!


Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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