Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

The complexity of coffee: The science behind your brew

Aaron Damon

Posted on September 22, 2014 in Arts & Culture
By Krysteana Scribner

Students and faculty alike have always liked how caffeine makes them feel. Whether they have to attend that 8:00 a.m. lecture or work a late shift at their part-time job, they find that coffee keeps them going when they need to be alert and at their best performance.

“I love coffee,” said Jenny Fogg, a sophomore health sciences major. “I’ve been trying to cut back though because I used to drink whole pots of coffee in a day, and it wasn’t giving me the energy I needed anymore.”

According to a National Coffee Association Survey done in 2013, over 83% of adult Americans consume caffeine, and some start at a young age.

“I started drinking coffee when I was 13,” said Courtney Mann, a junior history major. “I have cut down. I used to drink so much coffee. Now I’m drinking two large coffees a day and sometimes it feels like I’m barely functioning.”

John Broida, a professor of psychology, explained to the Free Press how coffee affects the brain.

“Coffee blocks adenosine – adenosine causes tiredness and the result is alertness,” said Broida. “If we block something that causes tiredness we make people more awake, and it ultimately increases metabolic activity.”

While some students are in it for the caffeine boost, hoping it will get them through their homework for class the next morning, others care more about the flavor of their brew.

“I love Coffee By Design,” said Fogg, explaining that she prefers the flavors of the company’s custom USM flavor, Husky Blend.

At CBD on Diamond Street, the general manager Kevin Gastardi offers tours of his shop where the brewing process can be seen through a large glass window.

“We don’t add any artificial flavors to our coffee because we don’t want the smells to gravitate into the roasteries,” said Gastardi, who proudly points to the roastaries attached to the building. “You can watch them make your coffee. There is no better experience than that.”

CBD goes through a serious selection process to pick which roasts they sell to their customers.

“When we look for coffees, we only pick the top 1%  arabica beans in the world. They are definitely the sweeter of the coffees and grow between five and eight thousand feet.”

Gastardi explained a bit more about where coffee comes from saying that the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are the areas coffee grows best.

“There are two types of coffee that the world consumes; Arabica Coffee, which is mild and aromatic; and Robusta, which is bitter tasting but has almost 50% more caffeine than Arabica.”

James Frydrych, an employee at CBD, sips his coffee in between shifts. “I drink quite a bit of coffee, sometimes too much. My favorite right now is our El Salvador. It’s a nice medium bodied cup that has a sweet lemon taste to it.”

Frydrych explains that there are so many ways to prepare coffee. “Espresso isn’t a particular type of bea, roast or blend. It’s the way the coffee is prepared. There’s also Cappuccino, Lattes, Iced, Decaf, Americano, Crema, you name it. There are so many types, and we serve them all.”

Once you start drinking coffee, it can be hard to stop. So do you need to? A study done by The School of Psychology at Cardiff University states that when caffeine is consumed in moderation by the majority of the population, there is unlikely to be many negative effects.

College students are more often concerned about the effects on their wallets, not their bodies.

“I used to get coffee almost everyday, so I decided to estimate how much money I spend on coffee each year. Turns out I’m losing about $1,090 a year on average,” said Matthew Francois, a junior history education major. “It was at that point that I decided to watch my spendings, because it just got too expensive.”

This raises an important question to all individuals who love coffee but feel the need to cut down. What if you want to stop drinking coffee or reduce your intake? According to a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine, a minority of moderate regular caffeine consumers experience some amount of clinical depression, anxiety, low vigor or fatigue when discontinuing their caffeine use.

“I started drinking coffee when I was 21, so I developed a taste for it later on in life compared to students these days. For me, it’s more about the taste than for the caffeine consumption,” said Chris Harriman, an administrative specialist, who also said that she couldn’t live without coffee.

Next time you buy coffee, take into consideration your wallet, your brain and the process that goes into brewing a perfect cup.