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June 2013 Newsletter

Recent newspaper headlines, like this one from the UK tabloid The
attention to an Australian study of one of the chemicals in coffee.

The chemical concerned is chlorogenic acid, abbreviated as CGA. It
is a superb antioxidant, and as such supposed to have all sorts of
wonderful health benefits, which is why you find Green Coffee
Extracts sold as dietary supplements on the health food and vitamin
shelves. (Note though that no-one sells Roasted Coffee Extracts,
also known as "Instant Coffee", as a health food.)

It's also sold as an "Appetite Suppressant" or "Fat Burner". I have
my doubts about this aspect. So, given this, why was the Daily Mail
saying that drinking 5 - 6 cups of coffee a day may promote both
obesity and diabetes?

Because Australian scientists, mostly from the University of Western
Australia, found that when you administer a large amount of CGA to
genetically engineered obese male mice (1 gram per kilogram of diet)
that's the effect it has ... on the mice. The actual title of the
paper is "Supplementation of a High-Fat Diet with Chlorogenic Acid
Is Associated with Insulin Resistance and Hepatic Lipid Accumulation
in Mice."

Personally, I have serious reservations about the way the results
were extended to cups of coffee. First, CGA isn't the only chemical
in coffee which can affect metabolism in various ways; there are
over 1000 different chemicals in coffee, and no one knows exactly
how they all work when combined together.

Second, the concentration of CGA in coffee varies widely. Robusta
has the most, Arabica (i.e. specialty coffee) the least. And the
concentration in green coffee is more than 80% higher than in
roasted coffee, since roasting reacts the CGA and other green coffee
components into a whole different set of chemicals. But even if you
drink 6 cups a day, there's no way you're getting a gram of CGA per
litre, more like 400-500 milligrams.

Finally, men and women aren't obese male mice. Extrapolating
anything that affects a mouse's metabolism to humans is a huge
stretch. For many mammals (including dogs) caffeine and theobromine
(the caffeine analogue in chocolate) are poisons. I've seen green
coffee stored in hessian sacks attacked by rats and mice, but they
gnawed the sacks, presumably for nest material, and left the coffee!

Frankly, I don't think your daily cuppa is going to make or mar you.
I will tell you that if you drink 5 - 6 of the monster Starbucks
confections I saw grasped in every second New Yorker's hand you'll
get fat, the sugar and milk alone will do it. 6 black, no sugar
coffees, not so much.

This month's special coffee is brought to you with a guarantee that
there was no animal testing involved. It also has the privilege of
the longest name I've ever encountered on a coffee bag, "Brazil
Fazenda Café Cambara, Microlot Quelmada #23, Yellow Bourbon Peaberry Natural." I couldn't fit that on a label, so

Brazil Cambara Peaberry

The ground coffee aroma makes you think of baking a sweet cake. The
flavour has a tingling lemonade sweetness, a light body and a smooth
short finish. Yummy!

Until Next Month