Wake up and smell the coffee

I'm a coffee drinker. I'm not finicky about grind or bean or method of preparation, although I guess I have some preferences. There is one thing that coffee has to have for me, though, and that it's strong. Very, very strong. The spoon has to stand up in the cup by itself. My usual cup in the morning is from an ordinary drip pot with whatever coffee is around. We usually buy it already ground and it's either a mail order Green Mountain espresso or sumatra or a Starbucks Goldcoast blend or Trader Joe's Bay Blend. Mostly dark roast and extra bold. Nothing fancy. Just good, strong coffee.

Wnich we drink black. The caffeine doesn't seem to bother me, doesn't keep me up and I really have to overdose to get palpitations from it. I can even go to dinner and order a black coffee with a shot of espresso in it and still sleep at night. And while I suffer from reflux (for which I have been taking omeprazole, aka Prilosec) for years, coffee doesn't bother my stomach, either. It turns out that may be because of the dark, strong coffee I like to drink:

With stomach irritation preventing almost 2 out of every 10 people from enjoying coffee, scientists today reported discovery of several substances that may be among the culprits responsible for brewing up heartburn and stomach pain in every cup.

Their report, presented here at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, included the counter-intuitive finding that espresso, French roast, and other dark-roasted coffee may be easier on the tummy because these roasts contain a substance that tells the stomach to reduce production of acid.


The scientists unexpectedly found that one of the coffee components, N-methylpyridium (NMP), seems to block the ability of the stomach cells to produce hydrochloric acid and could provide a way to reduce or avoid stomach irritation. Since NMP is generated only upon roasting and not found in raw coffee beans, darker-roasted coffees contain higher amounts of this stomach-friendly coffee ingredient. Dark- roasted coffee can potentially contain up to twice as much of the ingredient as light-roasted coffees, but its levels can vary widely depending on the variety of coffee bean and the roasting method, [Veronika] Somoza noted.

"Since NMP is generated upon roasting, dark-roast coffees contain high amounts of this stomach friendly coffee ingredient," [Thomas] Hofmann and Somoza said. "Now, there is hope for a good morning start with a freshly brewed cup of optimized stomach friendly coffee." (American Chemical Society press release, Eurekalert)

Monday morning. Time to wake up and get ready for the day. Have a good strong cup of strong, dark coffee. Like the T-shirt says, sometimes you make the coffee and sometimes the coffee makes you.


More like this

I prefer the Green Mountain single origin Kenyan. Friends are surprised that I no longer drink regular tea because of the acidity, but coffee doesn't bother me. Now I know why.

YES! to strong coffee.

The best coffee on the east coast:
Fogbuster made by http://www.piercebroscoffee.com/

I'd give up chocolate before I'd give up coffee. And I'm female, so that's saying something!

I make dark roast Yuban very thick then poured over ice.

By granny sue (not verified) on 22 Mar 2010 #permalink

It makes me wonder if your preference for dark roast coffee isn't in spite of your GERD, but because you've been self-medicating with NMP all along.

(Especially since I have the same condition and the same coffee preferences.)

I like my coffee the same way and likewise, the caffeine has never been an issue - have an espresso and sleep like a baby.
I have heard somewhere that the additional roasting actually reduces the amount of caffeine.

Coffee did give me some acid issues way back when, but when I cut my dairy and wheat (the major cause of my discomforts) the coffee was no longer a problem.

Trader Joes is a great find for coffee,btw.

Some good news, however, the coffee is good for you - coffee is bad for you jabber has gone on for as long as I can remember. Really to the point where I could give a rip and will continue to drink it. Coffee addiction, yum, couldn't manage or even imagine living without it.

You did know that coffee was the second or third largest crop sprayed with pesticides? Think cotton is first.

Given how much we now know about BigPharma skewing the science..., and this steady trickle of "Coffee Good" science news, I often wonder about these guys...


By John Carter (not verified) on 22 Mar 2010 #permalink

I guess pretty soon we will have GM coffee beans to get even more desirable effects, but don't worry, GM foods are safe, Monsanto says so, and FDA regulators planning to work for Monsanto after retirement agree.

Perhaps caffeine will be classified as a drug and you must get a prescription to order it from a Big Pharma/Big Agribusiness joint venture firm.

No medicare or insurance, no coffee, or at least coffee at 10 times the price paid by the insurance company, but since it's safer and healthier, and well regulated, it is worth it.

I was brought up on Coffee. For many years (~18 - ~35) I drank up to 6 pots (yes, pots) a day, and at the same time suffered from stomach ulcers. Switched to tea on medical advice, ulcers cleared up, so obviously not the caffeine as a problem. Some years later moved to Seattle and discovered Espresso, fresh-brewed by steam-forced water through fresh ground beans. Surprise, no stomach problems, and far better taste. But just a taste of drip can leave me debilitated for days, still. So I think the key is freshness of both grind and brew.

PS: Lattes are an expensive way of drinking coffee if you rely on coffee shops. But the ROI on buying a home espresso machine with built-in grinder is only a few months. Whether or not you want the steamed milk, it's a great way to go. Plus one button fresh coffee is itself addictive.

By Gray Gaffer (not verified) on 22 Mar 2010 #permalink

Not a big fan of coffee myself. Never liked the taste. You also have to check if the coffee is fair trade coffee. I'm more of an orange juice person.

As Marc notes, it's very important to know about the working conditions of those who made the coffee. At McGill U., we have some fair trade coffee promoters on campus, which is great. You know exactly where to buy it.

There are a whole series of toxins in coffee that can cause problems or bad flavor depending on preparation. I like strong coffee but I am not fond of dark roast. (All the effort coffee growers put into creating those aromatic beans and then to *burn* them? I'll never understand it) Research in Mexico has found that the higher the altitude the lower the toxins. Also organic coffee gains about 200 meters in the tasting, as well as being much lower in caffeine than 'conventional' (once again it depends on what practices are 'conventional')

Ok, but most anyone over 35 is hypochlorhydric, which means they don't make enough HCl to digest properly. The symptoms are the same as those with excess acid (including promoting H. pylori which causes ulcers) Despite the commercials, antacids are bad for them. One way around this is bitters before meals- greens like radicchio, arrugula or dandelion leaves, Angostura bitters, even biting into the peel on a slice of lime. That stimulates the production of bile and HCl. But coffee also has bitter principles that may help counteract the NMP and anti-inflammatory chlorogenic acid. Of course there is the possibility that NMP has some kind of regulatory function depending on overall acid level which takes into account the coffee acids and the stomach acids. Or that milk in coffee affects overall response. In any event, coffee is complex and extrapolating from one constituent isn't valid. Some of us feel better with it, others worse. The point is to listen to our own bodies and to see whether it works for us or not.

By Karen Vaughan, L.Ac. (not verified) on 23 Mar 2010 #permalink

Interesting that it is now known why darker roasts are more stomach friendly, but that in itself is hardly news. I'm nearly 40, and began drinking coffee at around 15, and this was definitely known then, at least among people who were interested or worked with coffee.

But please don't conflate strong with dark roast - not the same thing at all. If you compare traditional coffee in Finland and Denmark, the former is usually thought of as good and strong and the latter pretty meh, but the roast in Denmark is usually darker.

How about another piece of "folk wisdom": that for people with a finicky stomach, the less oil there is in the coffee, the easier it is on the stomach.
(Depending on the method, in falling order: Cooked with the grinds in it, grinds-in-cup (turkish) and french press, drip or trad espresso, pod-espresso or pod-drip and lastly instant - can't remember where percolator or moka pot fit in, sorry.)
Is there any science on exactly what it is in the fat of coffee that makes this bother some people?
That the fat contributes to the taste is obvious, and everyone who loathes light roasts should try them at least once: freshly roasted and ground, brewed by a method that leaves as much fat as possible in the cup. The Eastern European "Turkish" variant is very good and easy for this: just spoon the coffee (semi-coarsely ground, like for drip or a tad coarser) into a large-ish mug, add hot water, stir, let sink and enjoy!

Karen, thanks for that about bitters - very interesting, and explains why some people like to have a digestif (from Vermouth to Unicum or whatever) _before_ a meal, instead of after it.