The Coffee Side of Life

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Coffee is a drink made from coffee beans, which are the roasted fruits of the Coffea arabica (Fam. Rubiaceae). It is called kofi in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. It is also called kobi in Yoruba.

Constituents

The coffee beans contain vitamins, such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and folate; minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus; and plant chemicals like polyphenols (including chlorogenic acid and quinic acid), and diterpenes including cafestol and kahweol. Decaffeinated coffee (coffee without caffeine) also contains the same vitamins and minerals as the regular coffee.

Preparations

Coffee may be available as ground roasted coffee beans, tea, granules, powder alone or mixed with milk with or without sugar. It is an ingredient of some beverages and medicines. Coffee is packed in tins, regular and mini sachets.

Pharmacological actions and medicinal uses

Coffee is reported to cause a feeling of alertness by a mechanism that releases firing neurons. Several studies show that coffee can increase fat burning and boost metabolic rate, thereby promoting weight loss. Coffee can increase adrenaline levels and free fatty acid from fat tissues leading to significant improvement in physical performance.

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Several observational studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cirrhosis. Some studies report that coffee appears to lower the risk of developing depression and may dramatically reduce suicide risk. It appears to be protective against liver and colorectal cancer.

Several studies show that coffee drinkers live longer and have a lower risk of premature death. In fact, coffee may even boost longevity. The antioxidant effect of coffee may be attributed to chlorogenic acid and polyphenols that also have anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties and decrease the risk of developing certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

When newer studies adjusted for such factors, they found a possible association between coffee and decreased mortality. Coffee may offer some protection against heart attack and stroke.

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Adverse effects

Coffee has potential risks, mostly due to its high caffeine content. It may lead to increased blood pressure or adverse foetal outcome, nervousness and restlessness, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, increased breathing rate, irregular heartbeats and other side effects. It may increase bedwetting in children.

Addiction is a potential and well-known risk for coffee drinkers. Withdrawal symptoms include headaches, fatigue, drowsiness, and irritability in the case of extended periods without coffee. Coffee can interact with many drugs.

Economic uses and potentials

It has been reported that at least 20 to 25 million families around the world make a living from growing coffee. With an assumed average family size of five people, more than 100 million people are dependent on coffee growing. In 2016, reports have it that global coffee exports were $19.4 billion. The roast coffee market in Nigeria was equal to $681.60 million (calculated in retail prices) in 2015. The coffee market in Nigeria is estimated to reach $4.62 billion (in retail prices) by 2025.

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The demand for good coffee is high. Though coffee is cultivated in some states in the country, most of the coffee consumed in Nigeria is from imported brands. Government intervention is necessary for the development of coffee business in Nigeria.

Investment in Nigerian coffee has potentials for the future in terms of cultivation, processing, distribution and exportation.

References

Gunners K (2018). Thirteen health benefits of coffee, based on Science. Healthline. September 20.

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