Coffee and Gluten: Start With the Research

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By William (Bill) M. Murray, NCA, CEO

One of today’s challenges isn’t finding enough information on a particular subject, but rather deciding how to evaluate all the information that’s available. Is that information unbiased, expert, and useful?

This is true not only for coffee drinkers, but also for consumers seeking information about the impact of coffee on their health. Sorting through the headlines, opinions, blog posts, and advice columns isn’t easy, which is why it is always best to seek out any underlying research on a topic. (For insight into evaluating coffee-and-health research, see “Behind the Headlines: Coffee, Health, and Research.”)

We were reminded of this after an NCA member recently asked, “Does coffee contain gluten?”

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Is Cold Brew Good For You?

The following post is adapted from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health News 

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Science shows coffee can have major health perks at any temperature.

Summer’s hottest drink is also a healthy way to beat the heat.

Cold brew coffee — made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water overnight or longer — is just as healthy as regular coffee, according to Frank Hu, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a recent Health.com article.

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Breaking New Ground in Gender Research in Coffee

The following is a guest post submitted to The First Pull. See our guest post guidelines

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Women coffee farmers in Rwanda. Source: IWCA

By Ruth Ann Church and Josiane Cotrim Macieira, The International Women’s Coffee Alliance

In coffee, the women who perform much of the labor – up to 70%, according to the ITC’s Coffee Exporters’ Guide – to grow, harvest, process, and export coffee are all too often invisible.

Few organizations are focused on collecting or publishing data specifically on the women involved in the supply chain for commodities like coffee; and there has been little to no funding allocated to this task. Even in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producing country, the lack of data makes one believe that women do not exist.

Experts agree that women are the greatest untapped resource available to avert challenges to the global coffee industry. But the lack of data on women makes it impossible to understand their impact  in the value chain. This leads to under-performance in the coffee industry, much like how poor recognition of contributions in any industry can cause lagging productivity.

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Do Coffee Drinkers Live Longer?

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Two big studies support the long-term health benefits of coffee

It turns out, a cup of coffee can do a lot more than just perk up your morning.

People who drink more coffee may have a lower risk of premature death from disease, according to two new studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The results were consistent among more than 700,000 participants from a variety of racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.

Previous research has suggested that coffee is good for you, but was often limited to smaller groups and people of European decent, writes the Los Angeles Times.

And both studies found benefits for people who drank decaffeinated as well.

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A Producer’s Perspective: Challenges Across the Coffee Value Chain

Editor’s note: Next month, the global coffee industry will gather in Medellin for the World Coffee Producers Forum to explore how to strengthen farmers, discussing sustainability, labor, managing price volatility, and improving productivity and yields.  Here, Frederick Kawuma, Secretary General of the Inter African Coffee Organization (IACO), sets the stage for these discussions by providing an overview from the producers’ perspective.

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Coffee farmer Feleke Dukamo checks the latest coffee prices. Source: Wikimedia Commons

By Frederick Kawuma, Secretary General of the Inter African Coffee Organization (IACO)

There has recently been a spate of studies analyzing the income of coffee farmers. The first thing that becomes evident is that the income from coffee farming varies depending on the country, and even the region within the country, where the studies have been done.

The second thing that becomes evident is that the income from coffee farming depends on the price the farmer gets for his coffee, which depends on “the market.”

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Gender Equity: Strengthening the Links of the Coffee Supply Chain

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Gender equity is good for the coffee business.

The Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE) believes that vibrant farming communities are the key to producing better coffee, and more of it. Therefore, they’re working to address this issue through large-scale collaboration, standardized best practices, and stronger data – starting with the report, “The Way Forward: Accelerating Gender Equity in Coffee Value Chains.”

During a recent NCA webinar, “Gender Equity: Strengthening the Links of the Coffee Supply Chain,” industry experts Kimberly Easson, Samantha Veide, and Chad Trewick discussed key findings, required resources, and where the industry can go from here.

Four highlights emerged from the research:

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Data Snapshot: Coffee Farmer Income

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Photo courtesy of Fairtrade International

via Fairtrade America

Around 80% of the world’s coffee is produced by 17.7 million small-scale coffee farmers. And while the coffee industry aims to be a sustainability leader, the fact is that many farmers continue to struggle to make ends meet and support their families.

New research finds that the future of coffee depends on adequate income for farmers. A pilot study by Fairtrade International and True Price shows that despite sustainability pledges in the coffee sector, many coffee farmers struggle to make ends meet.

Key findings from the report include: 

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Study: Drinking Coffee May Help Protect Against Liver Disease

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A new study shows that drinking four cups of coffee a day may help prevent deadly disease, and may even counter the damage caused by unhealthy diet and lifestyle habits. (One cup of herbal tea also offers the same protection.)

Previous evidence suggested that coffee and tea could have a protective effect on liver tissue, but the results haven’t been conclusive. Now for the first time, scientists have confirmed the potential benefits of these beloved beverages.

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Even Daily Coffee Drinkers Can Boost Athletic Performance With Caffeine

“Caffeine improves athletic performance. This is a truth almost universally acknowledged in exercise science.” — Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times

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Drinking caffeinated coffee has been scientifically linked to improved physical performance. And for years, many scientists, coaches, and athletes believed that an athlete had to abstain for days or weeks before an event to gain a boost.

But a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that these ideas about caffeine and athletic performance are outdated.

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