Thursday, June 16, 2016

Coffee No Longer A Carcinogen?

Even though this W.H.O. based agency has classified coffee as a possible carcinogen since 1991, does its recent “change of mind” spell good news for coffee drinkers around the world? 

By: Ringo Bones

Since 1991, the International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC has classified coffee as a Group 2B carcinogen citing that it could significantly increase one’s risk of getting bladder cancer. But during a recent press release back in Wednesday, June 15, 2016, the IARC announced after a result of their ongoing research that there is no conclusive evidence that drinking coffee causes cancer and thus eliminating coffee from their list of "good tasting" carcinogens list. Sadly, the IARC also announced the recent results of their ongoing research that very hot drinks – anything above 85 degrees Celsius – are probably carcinogenic and these include coffee, tea, hot cocoa, etc.   

The International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC is an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organization of the United Nations. It was formed back in May 1965 and is headquartered in Lyon, France. The IARC categorizes agents, mixtures and exposures into five categories. Note that the classification is based only on the strength of evidence for carcinogenicity, not on the relative increase of cancer risk due to exposure, or on the amount of exposure necessary to cause cancer. For example, a substance that only very slightly increases the likelihood of cancer and only after long-term exposure to large doses, but the evidence for that slight increase is strong, would be placed in Group 1 even though it does not pose a significant risk in normal use. 

Group 1: carcinogenic to humans: There is enough evidence to conclude that it can cause cancer in humans.
Group 2A: probably carcinogenic to humans: There is strong evidence that it can cause cancer in humans but at present it is not conclusive.
Group 2B: possibly carcinogenic to humans: There is some evidence that it can cause cancer in humans, but at present it is far from conclusive.
Group 3: not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans: There is no evidence at present that it causes cancer in humans.
Group 4: probably not carcinogenic to humans: There is strong evidence that it does not cause cancer in humans. Only one substance – caprolactam – has been both assessed for carcinogenicity by the IARC and placed in this category. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Can Regularly Drinking Coffee Unclog Your Arteries?

If there’s any truth in the latest South Korea coffee study, can we really unclog our arteries by just drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day? 

By: Ringo Bones 

A recent South Korean study on the health benefits of drinking coffee suggests that drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day can make one avoid having clogged arteries thus reducing risks of getting a heart attack. The findings published in Heart came from a study of 25,138 participants who have had their calcium levels of their coronary arteries measured to find out if there’s any correlation with increased coffee drinking habits.
In recent months, Medical News Today has reported on a number of studies finding potential health benefits in regular coffee consumption. In past study results, moderate coffee consumption has been shown to statistically reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, endometrial cancer and melanoma skin cancer. 

Despite of this, the study’s authors state that the effect of coffee consumption on cardiovascular health has, so far, remained controversial. A recent meta-analysis of 36 studies demonstrated that moderate coffee consumption was linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and other research has made associations with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. 

In contrast, moderate coffee consumption has also been associated with increased cholesterol levels and hypertension. Due to these inconsistent results, the researchers decided to examine levels of coronary artery calcium – a predictor of coronary heart disease – in connection with coffee consumption.
Specifically, the presence of coronary artery calcium can indicate the early stages of coronary arteriosclerosis, a condition whereby the arteries become clogged up, hardened and narrow. When this occurs, arteries are more susceptible to blood clots that can lead heart attacks and strokes. 

Researchers led by the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, South Korea analyzed participants attending regular health screening, including food frequency questionnaires and CT scanning to determine coronary artery calcium. The participants had an average age of 41 with no signs of heart disease. 

Victoria Taylor, a senior dietician with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) agrees that the findings of the study will require further investigation. “We need to take care when generalizing these results because it is based on the South Korean population, who have a different diet and lifestyle and habits when compared to people in the UK.” she suggests. Last year, the Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that different people’s coffee drinking habits could be driven by genetics. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Should Illycafé Compete With Starbucks?

Even though this move makes them a late entrant in the single-serve coffee market, should Ilycafé be competing with Starbucks? 

By: Ringo Bones

To the coffee connoisseur, Illycafé is more known for producing high-end cappuccino and espresso drink capsules that with the currently Starbucks dominated single-serve coffee market. Illcafé now produces filter capsules specifically designed to deliver the famed – but somewhat esoteric to the rest of the world – Illycafé coffee to a wider market place. President and company CEO Andrea Illy was praised for the use of recyclable materials for its espresso filter capsules that sets them apart from their competitors. In the highly competitive single-serve coffee market, Illycafé offers something different and environmentally friendly indeed. 

In Trieste, Italy, the Adriatic port town famed for introducing Europe to coffee, Illycafé got its first start back in 1933 when company founder Francesco Illy developed the modern espresso machine. The company’s story is still being written today by President and CEO Andrea Illy representing a third generation of Illy family leadership. Hopefully, the rest of the world at large will now be enjoying the famed Illycafé coffee with the same convenience as going into a Starbucks shop. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Will Indonesia’s Growing Demand for Luxury Coffee Affect the Global Coffee Market?

Will Indonesia’s recent spike in demand for its homegrown luxury coffee eventually affect the global supply of top-shelf coffee? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Putting two and two together, it’s not that hard to see why a growing local demand for its homegrown luxury coffee in Indonesia might mean less of the good stuff available for foreigners that had acquired a taste for Indonesian top-shelf coffee. But is this necessarily a bad thing? 

Recent figures show that about a quarter of the world’s supply of top-shelf coffee is grown and processed in Indonesia. Since the late 1990s, a new generation of Indonesian gourmet coffee aficionados and a steadily growing number of gourmet coffee shops in every major metropolitan area across Indonesia means that there could be less of this good stuff that will be available to foreigners even though foreigners visiting Indonesia’s major metropolitan areas can still find this top-shelf coffee with ease. 

Though Indonesian coffee growers are growing more and more coffee plants to meet both domestic and export demands, figures show that at the levels they are currently expanding their coffee crops, demand will outstrip supply in as little as two years time. Will a much needed capital investments to Indonesia’s coffee farmers avert a “disastrous” global luxury coffee shortage? 

Premium coffee in Indonesia are sourced and handpicked from tree ripened coffee beans. The high quality beans must be processed separately from the lower grade ones because mixing the two and processing both results in an inferior product. But these top-shelf coffee that used to destined for export abroad are now increasingly destined for the local Indonesian gourmet coffee market. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Coffee Luwak, Unethically Produced?

Being sold at around 90 US dollars a cup in the coffee-shops of the world’s major metropolitan areas, would you ever consider boycotting coffee luwak if you find out that it was unethically produced? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Once considered a freebie by coffee plantation workers in the Malay Peninsula since the 18th Century, that is before the world’s coffee connoisseurs discovered the distinctive mild tea-like taste of coffee luwak. To the uninitiated and however you spell it, coffee luwak / kopi luwak or "civet coffee" is made – or more accurately brewed from - coffee berries that had been eaten by the native wild civet cats that roam the region’s coffee plantations then passed though their digestive system. Despite “sanitation concerns” of brewing coffee form beans that had been literally picked from the droppings of wild civet cats were swiftly set aside once coffee aficionados around the world fell in love with the distinctive mild tea-like taste of coffee luwak - mainly due to the civet cat's proteolytic enzymes in its digestive system that seeps into the swallowed coffee beans resulting in shorter peptides and more free amino acids - which now often sells for around 90 US dollars a cup in posh coffee shops of the world’s major metropolitan areas. But how ethically produced are coffee lowak currently being marketed around the world today? 

Purists insists that for this product to pass muster as genuine coffee luwak – the plantation grown coffee beans must  and should be eaten by free (free range?) civet cats. But due to the ongoing deforestation of Malaysia’s tropical forests and those in the surrounding Malay Peninsula region, free / wild civet cats are fast becoming a rarity so what does an enterprising coffee lowak producer resorts to just to keep his or her bottom line fat – battery farming of civet cats? 

Unfortunately that is what they just did for over a decade now. The sad fact is that civet cats don’t adapt well in captivity and most die by having their respiratory system being infected by a SARS like virus due to being confined in close quarters whose symptoms often include a bloody stool once a typical infected civet cat passes out coffee beans with their excrement. Recent hidden camera investigation by various nature and environmental groups only confirm the mass scale of the civet cats being kept in deplorable battery farms. Dr. Neil D’Cruze of the World Society of the Protection of Animals had already called on authorities to stop the unethical production coffee luwak in the Malay Peninsula that violate existing global animal welfare laws.