Coffee: Not Your Average Joe

CoffeeBy Shely Salemnia, DTR, CSUN Dietetic Intern

Coffee is heralded throughout the world for its stimulating properties, delicious flavors, and invigorating aroma. But did you know coffee has many health benefits as well?

Commonly known to have originated from Ethiopia, coffee is a beverage enjoyed throughout the world; as a start to the day, as a pick-me-up, or even for ceremonial purposes1. This beverage has a passionate fan base in all four corners of the world, and even has developed its own culture. Coffee is the seed from a fruit called the coffee cherry2. The green seeds are processed and then roasted, giving it a dark brown coloring. The seeds are then ground up and heated with water to extract what we know as coffee.

New and emerging research has shown immense health benefits from drinking coffee. Coffee consumption has been studied in its possible role in reducing risk of: depression, cognitive decline, liver disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and some cancers3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Per a 2015 editorial in The American Journal of Cardiology, moderate coffee intake (3-6 cups/day) was described as fairly safe, including for individuals with cardiovascular disease and hypertension5.Coffee contains thousands of compounds including caffeine, diterpene alcohols, chlorogenic acids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, all of which may be involved in the physiologic mechanism of coffee on health5. It also contains some potassium and magnesium9. Health benefits were seen with as little as one cup of coffee per day. Some negative health effects were associated with high coffee drinkers (more than 10 cups/day)5.Discuss with your physician the amount of coffee that is recommended for you.

The average cup of coffee has around 74-100 mg of caffeine, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that around 400mg of caffeine per day is safe; and for those pregnant or breastfeeding up to 200mg per day is safe10.

Coffee is naturally low in calories. Avoid getting blended beverages and flavored beverages common at some coffee shops, which are loaded with excess sugars, calories, and preservatives. Healthy options to add to your coffee are non-fat milk, low-fat milk, and milk alternatives.

Coffee is a delicious choice in beverage, whether you prefer it as espresso, drip coffee, or blended with ice. If you don’t have a coffee machine at home, here is a guide to brew your own cup at home.

Step-By-Step Guide to Brewing Coffee without a Drip Coffee Maker 

Items needed

  • Freshly roasted coffee beans (some packages have roasted dates on them, the fresher the better)
  • A grinder (some coffee shops and grocery stores can grind them for you)
  • Boiled water
  • Paper filter

Option 1

  1. Measure one tablespoon of ground coffee for each cup of coffee you want to brew.
  2. Grind your coffee down to a sand-like grain.
  3. Place a paper filter on top of a coffee mug and pour the ground coffee into the filter.
  4. Pour boiling water over the grind, and wait 30 seconds. Continue pouring the rest of the water, waiting for the coffee to filter through to the cup before adding more water. Your coffee is ready to drink.

Option 2

  1. Measure one tablespoon of ground coffee for each cup of coffee you want to brew.
  2. Grind your coffee to bigger, coarser grains.
  3. Place the grinds in a cup. Pour boiling water over the grinds to “wet” the coffee. Wait 30 seconds.
  4. Add the rest of the water into the cup. Let sit for 4 minutes.
  5. Pour the coffee into the cup you will drink from, without letting the grinds go into your cup. Your coffee is ready to drink.


Image credit: Shely Salemnia, DTR, CSUN Dietetic Intern

Tip: Pour extra coffee into ice trays and freeze. Add to your iced coffee so that when the ice melts it doesn’t dilute your drink.

If you are on campus, grab your favorite coffee at Freudian Sip. Bring your own reusable mug to receive a discount!



  1. Thurston, R., Morris, J., Steiman, S., & Ebrary. (2013). Coffee: A comprehensive guide to the bean, the beverage, and the industry.
  2. National Coffee Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. Lucas, F. Mirzaei, A. Pan, et al.Coffee, caffeine and risk of depression among women Archives of Internal Medicine, 171 (2011), pp. 1571-1578
  4. Ritchie, S. Arteo, F. Porter, et al.Caffeine, cognitive functioning, and white matter lesions in the elderly: establishing causality from epidemiological evidence. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Suppl. 1) (2010), pp. S161-S166
  5. Chrysant, S. (2015). Coffee Consumption and Cardiovascular Health. The American Journal of Cardiology, 116(5), 818-821.
  6. Wang, Y., Chan, C., Hung, S., & Tsai, S. (2012). Coffee Reduces Liver Damage through Increased SOD Activity in Liver of NASH Rats. Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise, 44, 311.
  7. Nieber, K. (2017). The Impact of Coffee on Health. 83(16), 1256-1263.
  8. Gunter, M., Schaub, J., Xue, X., Freedman, N., Gaudet, M., Rohan, T., . . . Sinha, R. (2012). A prospective investigation of coffee drinking and endometrial cancer incidence. International Journal of Cancer, 131(4), E530-E536.
  9. Food Standard Agency, Public Health England, McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, 7th, Cambridge, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2014.
  10. EFSA (2015) Scientific Opinion on the Safety of Caffeine. EFSA Journal, 13(5):4102.

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