With its distinctive aroma, coffee is one of the most easily recognizable and highly consumed substances in the world, second only to tea. In fact, it is the greatest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, and studies have shown that individuals who consume a standard Western diet receive more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and vegetables combined.
It is all too easy to view coffee as just another everyday product, but coffee holds many beneficial health benefits. Most people know about the energy boost that coffee provides, waking up in anticipation of that first cup of coffee that gets them up and about. However, coffee goes much further than that and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and improve cardiovascular function. In fact, those who consume coffee have been shown to be less likely to die from stroke, respiratory disease, heart disease, diabetes, and infection.1
The History of Coffee
While many people assume coffee is a bean, it is actually the pit inside a stone-fruit referred to as a “cherry.” The flesh of the fruit ranges in color from purple to red, and the seed contained within is commonly referred to as the “bean.” Typically, coffee cherries contain two green stones with the flat sides facing each other, visually resembling beans, hence the name “coffee beans.”
According to ancient legend, coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi. He decided to try coffee cherries after noticing that his goats had boundless levels of energy after eating from the coffee bush, and the rest is history. The coffee plant is native to East Africa, with the first known plant in the mountains of Yemen and the earliest recorded evidence of its consumption in the Sufi monasteries in the 15th century.2
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However, it wasn’t until the 1600s that coffee was first cultivated. This occurred in the small town of Chikmagalur in the Indian state of Karnataka. From here, cultivation spread around the world, with Europe quickly following suit in 1616, Java in 1699, the Caribbean in 1715, the Dutch East Indies in 1720, and South America in 1730.
The majority of coffee cherries are hand-picked before being prepared for processing, which involves soaking the extracted seeds in water for approximately two days to soften the mucilage around their exterior. The beans are then dried before undergoing the roasting process, which turns them from a vibrant green into varying shades of brown. It is during the roasting process that coffee beans develop their aroma and flavor that the world knows and loves. Though there are many different types of coffee available, Robusta and Arabica are the most common.
One of the more controversial methods of processing coffee beans involves the Asian palm civet. This weasel-like mammal is fed coffee berries, which are then excreted and collected to make one of the most expensive coffees in the world. During the digestion process, the coffee berries undergo fermentation that is said to remove the bitterness and produce a smoother, almost caramel-like flavor. The most expensive coffee in the world is known as Black Ivory, which is processed in the same way, but uses elephants instead of the Asian palm civet and costs 1,100 dollars per kilogram.3
Of course, all of the above involves the preparation for coffee as a beverage. However, the benefits of coffee essential oil should not be overlooked as it can provide a range of perks beyond or in addition to those of the popular beverage.
It may come as a surprise that coffee essential oil can contain up to 800 different chemical compounds. In addition to terpenes and alcohols, coffee also has a range of other a compounds that make for its beneficial effects.
First, oleic acid, also known as Omega-9, is an amino acid commonly found in olive oil and fish oil supplements and is vital for proper functioning of the organs. Another fatty acid found in coffee essential oil is the Omega-6 in linoleic acid, which prevents airborne toxins from entering the body via the skin. Another, palmitic acid, is a potent antioxidant that is beneficial for the skin.4
The chemical compound responsible for giving coffee its smokey, woody, and sweet fragrance is 2,3-dimethyl benzofuran. Dihydrobenzofuran is one of the most important chemical compounds found in the brain and primarily functions as a serotonin receptor. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depressive disorders, memory issues, low libido, and a reduced appetite. Known as the happy hormone, serotonin is able to improve cognitive functions and mood, so an increase in the amounts of dihydrobenzofuran available in the body correlates to an increase in serotonin levels.5
Coffee Essential Oil Also Contains:
- 3,5-Dicaffeoylquinic acid
- Chlorogenic acid
- Ferulic acid
- Caffeic acid
The compounds in coffee essential oil work together in the body allowing for health benefits, both physically and mentally.
Uses for Coffee Essential Oil
Coffee essential oil provides many of the same benefits as those provided by the beverage. In fact, the scent of coffee alone is so potent that it can provide a stimulating effect on its own.
Some of the many benefits of coffee essential oil include pain relief, anti-aging benefits, nausea alleviation and increase in appetite, reduction in inflammation, and muscle relaxation.6 These are just a few of that coffee essential oil provides. The most notable health benefits of coffee essential oil are highlighted below.
As mentioned previously, coffee is the primary source of antioxidants in the western world and provides more dietary antioxidants than any other food group. It contains several potent antioxidants that help protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals, which cause damage to the DNA and proteins found in the body due to oxidative stress, resulting in diseases.
Coffee contains several of the powerful antioxidants in large quantities, including polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. These compounds can work to prevent the onset of conditions such as type two diabetes or heart disease by neutralizing free radicals.7
Free radicals have unpaired electrons, which makes them incredibly damaging to the cells throughout the body. Antioxidants, in effect, donate electrons and ultimately disarm them, therefore, providing protection from oxidative stress. It is known that coffee also has beneficial effects on the liver and limits the risk of cirrhosis making it one of the most versatile sources of antioxidants in the world.
When it comes to losing body fat, caffeine is found in nearly all weight loss supplements sold commercially. This is because caffeine is one of several organic compounds that has been clinically proven to assist with fat burning. Caffeine works by boosting the metabolism, thus leading to an increase in the number of calories burned at the resting metabolic rate. In fact, metabolic rate has sometimes been shown to increase by 11 percent in some cases.
Several other studies have shown that caffeine boosts fat burn by as much as 29 percent in lean individuals and 10 percent in overweight or obese individuals. As with all stimulants, caffeine works by increasing the body temperature and heart rate, causing the body to use more calories than normal to maintain an optimal temperature while powering the heart. Caffeine has also been shown to increase the levels of epinephrine in the blood. This stimulation of the central nervous system results in the body sending out signals to metabolize fat cells to provide fuel for the body as part of the “fight or flight” response.
Coffee essential oil is one of the best homeopathic remedies for aching joints and sore muscles. The compound responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties is kahweol, and studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing inflammation. Coffee essential oil is also a potent topical analgesic that increases blood flow to the area it is applied to, increasing the rate of healing while providing relief. Many different conditions can benefit from this essential oil, including arthritis, where it can provide pain relief upon application.
Because of these pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties, coffee essential oil is effective in eliminating headaches and migraines or reducing the pain of gastrointestinal distress.
Anti-aging and Photoprotective
Used as part of a daily routine, coffee essential oil not only improves the appearance and texture of skin but provides protective properties.
Due to the antioxidants, it contains, coffee essential oil has fantastic anti-aging properties. These antioxidants actively work to reduce oxidative stress on the skin, leading to increased blood flow oxygen delivery to cells. This stimulates collagen production in the epidermis and results in the reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, blemishes, and age spots. The caffeine content found in this essential oil has also been shown to drastically reduce the appearance of crow’s feet by reducing their depth.8
Topical application of coffee essential oil can also protect against photoaging, limiting the amount of skin damage caused by UVA and UVB rays from the sun.
Safety and Precautions
As is true with most essential oils, coffee oil is seen quite safe when used correctly. However, there are several precautions that should be taken when using it.
Coffee essential oils should never be taken ingested as it is highly concentrated. While it is common to drink freshly brewed coffee beans, the essential oils should not be ingested.
When applying coffee essential oil topically, it is important to first dilute it with a suitable carrier oil. Applying undiluted essential oil to the skin can lead to allergic reactions, including pain, burning, and inflammation. Before applying this essential oil to large areas of the body, it is recommended to perform a patch test to ensure the absence of an allergic or adverse reaction. Individuals with an intolerance or sensitivity to caffeine should not use coffee essential oil topically as it can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream once applied.
Use of coffee essential oil is discouraged while pregnant or nursing, as with other essential oils.
The health benefits that coffee essential oil provides highlight exactly why it deserves a spot in your daily routine, besides your morning cup of coffee. Looking at coffee as more than a beverage will allow you to reap the benefits that the essential oil has to offer. Try it for yourself by mixing it into a lotion and applying it to the skin or by using it in aromatherapy in a vaporizer, room diffuser, or personal essential oil diffuser like Love MONQ.