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This week we are going to dive into the subject which is sacred to us all on the night shift, coffee. For many working the night shift fatigue can be a serious problem. With all the research out there on combating the effects of the night shift through melatonin, light therapy, and other prescriptions. Nothing has been shown to more effective in research than a good old cup of caffeine on the night shift. The biggest reasons for these issues have a lot to do with the disruption of the circadian rhythm.
In a study published in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, scientists pooled data from 13 previous studies on performance among shift workers. The studies also looked at performance on tasks like driving and neuropsychological tests. Ultimately, they found that caffeine worked better than a placebo — and even naps — at reducing errors and improving performance on tasks including those involving memory, attention, perception, concept formation and reasoning.
Origins of Coffee
According to legend, during the 9th century, there was an Ethiopian goat-herder named Kaldi. Kaldi noticed that his flock became energetic after eating the bright red berries. Trying them for himself he felt a burst of energy and brought some of the fruit to a local monk, explaining what he’d seen. The monk disapproved of their use and threw them into a fire, making it the first coffee roaster. The aromatic result was recovered from the fire and soaked in hot water.
The earliest recorded evidence of coffee drinking and knowledge of the coffee tree comes from the mid-fifteenth century in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen in Southern Arabia. Mokha, Yemen would become a large coffee marketplace and where the sought after Mokha beans, which today we call mocha, were found. Those first plants in Yemen can trace their origin to Ethiopia, giving credit to the often debated theory that most coffees are descended from a few plants in Ethiopia. India would begin cultivating their own coffee in 1670 when it was introduced to them by the Sufi, Baba Budan who brought it from Yemen.
What is Coffee?
Although coffee is referred to as a bean, it is actually the seed of a piece of fruit, known as a coffee cherry. They were termed ‘beans’, as they resemble the appearance of actual beans. The cherries are hand picked, and the seed is separated from the fruit. There are various methods of achieving this, with some allowing the fruit to dry first, and others removing the seed much sooner. By varying the amount of time the fruit is allowed to dry on the seed, these methods impact the flavor of the finished product. After the ‘beans’ are dried, the unroasted product is called ‘green coffee’. Coffee has been known to contain mild psychotropics which are actually built into the plant as sort of a defense mechanism. The primary psychoactive substance in coffee is a caffeine.
There are two types of coffee plant: Coffea arabica is the source of Arabica coffee, and it accounts for 80% of the coffee that companies produce worldwide. The remaining 20% is Coffea canephora, commonly called Robusta coffee. The leaves of both plants contain caffeine. In chemical terms, caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline solid called an alkaloid. Coffee plants produce it using nitrogen they take from the soil.
Ironically, the world’s favorite stimulant is actually the coffee plant’s defense mechanism. Caffeine’s bitter taste is meant to deter hungry herbivores, pests, and disease. It’s also a “no trespassing” sign to other territory-stealing plants.
This substance actually crosses the blood brain barrier and then it acts primarily on your nervous system. Which impacts your brain function, your perception, your mood, your consciousness, your behavior, and even your cognition. Because of all this coffee can be addictive.
Can Coffe Be Bad?
Sometimes your taste buds know best.
You don’t like the taste of bad coffee for the same reason you don’t like the taste of gasoline: your body is telling you it’s toxic.
The data on coffee consumption goes back and forth. Some studies show health benefits, while others show negative outcomes. This might seem confusing, but the reason is simple: bad coffee is bad for you, and scientists suck at differentiating types of coffee when they run studies on coffee.
Studies on coffee and health don’t control for processing methods or the source of the beans. This means the coffee beans are almost always contaminated with mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are damaging compounds created by molds which grow on coffee beans (among other things). These compounds cause all sorts of health problems like cardiomyopathy, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, and even brain damage. They also make your coffee taste bitter like it needs sugar.
Cheaper coffee varieties cost less because they use poor quality beans and they allow a higher percentage of damaged (moldy) beans, then companies process them with techniques that add flavor but amplify a number of toxins.
Better Coffee for the Night Shift
Follow these tips when you drink Coffee and other caffeinated beverages:
- Buy single estate coffee beans. You’ll know exactly where they are coming from.
- Don’t buy “blends” of coffee. They are usually a mix of cheap beans from multiple sources.
- Avoid decaf coffee. Caffeine is the coffee plant’s (and bean’s) natural pesticide and antifungal agent. When a bean is decaffeinated, it is defenseless and open to mold growth in later stages of processing.
- Arabica beans are generally less moldy than Robusta beans (for both cheap and expensive coffees).
- Avoid naturally processed beans. Although the phrase sounds nice, it means the beans are left outside and often collect debris and bird feces. The natural process is very common in Africa.
- Be wary of the wet process, which isn’t much better than the natural process. Beans are fermented in water to remove skins and become susceptible to toxins.
- Consider the environment in which your beans grow. Mold is less common at higher elevations, so the mountains of Central or South America are solid choices.
- Steam can help break down mycotoxins, making Americanos a better choice than black coffee if you get caught without decent beans.
- Decalcify your coffee making equipment with vinegar (a natural antifungal) every few months depending on how hard your water is.
- Always brew your coffee with filtered water.
Coffee We Love
- Bullet Proof Coffee “PRODUCED WITH HAND PICKED ORGANIC BEANS: Upgraded beans are harvested in Central America from passive organic estates without chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, etc.). Each bean is handpicked by experienced coffee harvesters – skilled people who only pick perfectly ripe berries. When the coffee beans are not carefully hand-harvested, the beans can be mistakenly picked unripe and damaged, which impacts the taste and can possibly affect the way it makes you feel.”
- Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee “Made from our premium blend of 100% Arabica coffee. In total 500 mg of dual-extracted lion’s mane fruiting bodies, and wild-harvested chaga per serving. Vegan, vegetarian, & paleo friendly.
Replace The Creamer with these Alternatives.
- Onnit Emulsified MCT Oil “MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) are a beneficial fat that’s easily converted into fuel in the form of ketones, one of the brain’s primary sources of energy as well as a vital source of ATP energy for the body. Onnit EMCT oil is excellent for those adhering to a ketogenic diet, which utilizes fats rather than carbs for energy, a state known as ketosis. MCT oil is a perfect supplement for other low carb diets, like the Paleo diet, and for weight management support.”
- Bulletproof – Brain Octane Oil “NATURAL ENERGY SOLUTION: Brain Octane is naturally found in coconut oil in small quantities, and we concentrate it to provide you with the purest energy source possible. Brain Octane rapidly provides mental and physical energy, powering your day by supporting cognitive function and keeping you satisfied and free from food cravings. Add it to your daily routine, and experience the state of high performance.