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 wellness 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.
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.
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.
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 helpful for proper functioning. Another fatty acid found in coffee essential oil is the Omega-6 in linoleic acid.
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.
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 wellness 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.
Safety and Precautions
As is true with most essential oils, coffee oil is seen as relatively 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.