As I write this I am sitting here sipping coffee. Strong, black, fresh brewed coffee from beans grinded in my kitchen. On any given morning, the same as millions of other Americans, I might top off my first cup with a second cup – take a cup to go – and/or stop in at my local coffee house for a latte or other coffee-based drink. Like most of those good folk, it seems impossible to get through the morning, much less the day, without a strong cup of coffee or two.
But how many of us ever stop and really think about our coffee. Where it comes from. What goes into it. How exactly the stuff works. What the short and long term effects of it on your body and your emotional and mental state are. These questions got us thinking, and researching and writing. Afterall, there is a pretty strong link between caffeine consumption and your appearance. Some of it is surprising.
What is Coffee Anyhow
Coffee is a drink that is brewed from coffee beans which are harvested from the coffea plant in a variety of places around the world, including Africa and South America. According to Wikipedia all of these plants originate in Africa.
The genus Coffea is native to tropical Africa (specifically having its origin in Ethiopia and Sudan) and Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius, and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Coffee plants are now cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, Indian subcontinent, and Africa. The two most commonly grown are C. arabica and C. robusta. Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried. Dried coffee seeds (referred to as “beans”) are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor. Roasted beans are ground and then brewed with near-boiling water to produce the beverage known as coffee.
While coffee is native to Ethiopia and Sudan, the earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking as the modern beverage appears in modern-day Yemen in southern Arabia in the middle of the 15th century in Sufi shrines. It was in what is now Yemen that coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed in a manner similar to how it is now prepared for drinking. But the coffee seeds had to be first exported from East Africa to Yemen, as Coffea arabica is thought to have been indigenous to the former. The Yemenis obtained their coffee via Somali traders from Berbera (who in turn procured the beans from the Ethiopian Highlands) and began to cultivate the seed. By the 16th century, the drink had reached Persia, Turkey, and North Africa. From there, it spread to Europe and the rest of the world.
The caffeine in coffee has a stimulating impact on the human body. Its immediate impact is to help with alertness and wakefulness. Because of this, the legal drug is the most common in the world.
Coffee Is An Addictive Drug
Coffee is full of caffeine, except for the coffee that has caffeine stripped out of it. Caffeine is regulated by the FDA as both a food additive and as a drug. But it is a legal one that is found, without FDA labels, in millions of restaurants, stores and gas stations. According to the National Institutes of Health, people consume a lot more caffeine than most people are aware of:
It belongs to a group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. Foods containing caffeine can help restore mental alertness. Caffeine’s use as an alertness aid should only be occasional. It is not intended to replace sleep and should not regularly be used for this purpose. In the United States (U.S.), more than 90 percent of adults use caffeine regularly, with an average consumption of more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. This is more caffeine than in two 6-ounce cups of coffee or five 12-ounce cans of soft drink. (Source).
The Addiction Center is one of the largest resources in the country for helping people to overcome their struggles with substance use and abuse. You might not think about coffee this way, but they certainly consider it to be a highly addictive drug. They describe it this way:
People can develop a dependence on coffee and other caffeinated beverages quite quickly. This is due to the chemical changes that sustained consumption produces in the brain. If someone drinks caffeine on a daily basis, he or she will develop a tolerance, just as one would to other drugs or alcohol. After a while, the user requires more and more caffeine to produce the same effects of alertness. Regular caffeine drinkers become acclimated to the wake-up aspect that the substance produces, and gradually require higher amounts to achieve the same “caffeine fix.” Similar to other drugs, people who abruptly stop drinking caffeine after prolonged use will start to suffer from withdrawal symptoms and experience cravings. This causes many individuals to relapse when attempting to quit and resume drinking caffeine, regardless of the health problems associated with chronic caffeine use.
That said, those of us in the skincare industry, and industries related to skincare, also understand that caffeine is highly controversial. Some people believe that it can wreak havoc on our skin, the most delicate of all organs, drying it out and potentially contributing to acne. Others see coffee as a literal ‘god send.’ (Source).
Your Skin and Coffee
Coffee may be a diuretic, which leads to you having less water in your body; and it may be a stimulant, which leads to more stress hormone response. Both of these can trigger negative skin effects. However, when used in a scrub it has significant beauty benefits, as Penn Medicine points out in an article about the surprising ways that coffee can make you beautiful. Perhaps, however, the most notable of all is the evidence that coffee can help to fight skin cancer.
That’s right; in case you missed it – the news about these studies hit about a decade ago, but they have not been rebuked. (Source).