The buzz over caffeine: it can help your workout

From the Globe and Mail: The buzz over caffeine: It can help your workout.


Will drinking coffee help or hinder my workout?


Until 2004, caffeine was a banned substance for elite athletes, who could test positive if they drank as few as three cups of strong coffee. That, one would assume, means it’s a performance enhancer.

Then, frustrated with trying to regulate such a commonly used substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed caffeine from its restricted list — and the strangest thing happened. After the ban was lifted, caffeine levels in WADA urine tests decreased in most sports. If it wasn’t worth banning, athletes apparently figured, it wasn’t worth taking.

They were wrong. [continue]

Coffee drinking not harmful and may help against heart disease

This is the best news I’ve heard today. From the CBC: Coffee drinking not harmful and may help against heart disease: study.

Drinking copious amounts of coffee is not harmful to your health, and particularly if you’re a woman, may actually protect you from heart disease, new research suggests.

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid studied the effects of coffee consumption on 41, 736 men and 86, 214 women over 18-year and 24-year periods respectively. (…)

They discovered that women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a 25 per cent lower risk of death from heart disease during the study’s followup period (1980 to 2004) than non-coffee drinkers. They also had an 18 per cent lower risk of dying from an illness other than cancer or heart disease during followup. [continue]

On espresso and Starbucks

We would never have bought an inexpensive espresso machine, because we’re serious about our coffee, and we though you’d need an expensive machine to make a really good shot. But surprise: a cheap machine came as a gift from a relative. Now that we’ve perfected our technique, our home-made espresso is awesome! We’ve got flavour, we’ve got crema, we’ve got happy coffee-drinkers.

This gets me wondering about coffeeshops. Take Starbucks, for example. They sell the machine we’ve got, and you know the machines their baristas use are way more expensive and serious than our home model. Yet Starbucks’ espresso is crap. It has caffeine, so it will help a coffee addict prevent a withdrawal headache, but that’s about its only merit. Starbucks’ espresso is to coffee addicts what methadone is to heroin addicts.

This is puzzling. Starbucks claims to specialize in coffee, so why is their espresso so bad? To make it even more puzzling, Starbucks has started displaying signs that say "Come in for the neighbourhood’s best espresso" and "Espresso is at the heart of everything we do."

Baffling. Hey Starbucks, why on earth can’t you make good espresso? I can make awesome espresso, and you’ve got way more resources than I do.

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Praying for a cuppa

From Ananova: Praying for a cuppa.

The power of prayer is all it takes to relax with a drink at a newly opened Croatian cafe.

Customers at the Jedro coffee shop in Zagreb are asked to say a certain number of prayers in return for their drinks.

The most expensive beverage is a Coca-Cola which costs five ‘Hail Marys’. A cappuccino costs four ‘Our Fathers’. [continue]

The bonanza bean

The National Geographic’s coffee pages contain a few interesting things: legends page with fascinating historical tidbits, a map of coffee-producing nations , and their The Bonanza Bean article. From the latter, here is a bit of weirdness for you:

The Japanese gentlemen buried me up to the chin in a shallow grave and left me to compost in 13 tons of soggy ground coffee. Fermentation, induced by pineapple pulp, had heated my pool-size percolator to a barely tolerable 140°F [60°C].

For 2,000 yen ([U.S.] $9.50) and 30 minutes, I steamed in some $10,000 worth of the world’s most popular beverage component, perhaps the best buy in today’s Japan. Billed as an antidote for almost everything, this featured attraction at Nishiarai Kouso Sauna Center in suburban Tokyo merely left me limp. And somewhat immodestly clad in a dissolving paper bikini.

If the unique bath did little for me therapeutically, it surely showed how tastes have changed in this land of traditional tea drinkers. A generation ago few Japanese had sampled coffee by the cup, let alone by the tubful. Now Tokyo alone has [continue]