Coffee has become a regular part of the American diet since the Boston Tea Party of 1773. In the morning, we enjoy a steaming cup of slow-drip coffee at home, a frothy cappuccino at work, and sip on a bottle of iced coffee as we make our way home in the afternoon. For people who enjoy their coffee and are simultaneously trying to lose weight, knowing a bit about the different types and blends available can help you achieve your health goals while enjoying this delicious beverage.
Where Coffee Comes From
The origins of coffee can be traced back to the 12th century when the roasted beans of the Coffea Arabica plant were first brewed into coffee in Yemen. From there, the tradition spread to the entire Arabian peninsula and eventually abroad through trade and colonization.
Difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee
While Arabica coffee cultivation gradually extended to Africa, Latina America, Asia, and the Caribbean, the second variety of coffee — Coffea Canephora or Robusta — could be found growing in parts of Western and Central Africa, including Angola, Liberia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. This variety was more vine-like with rounded beans and presented a more bitter taste than Arabica coffee. Eventually, these two varieties became the dominant types of coffee consumed around the world. Let’s take a look at each one and their pros and cons for health and weight loss.
The sweeter and more fruity of the two, Arabica coffee offers a pleasant experience to connoisseurs along with lower caffeine content and less of the “jitters.” Making up 60% of the world’s coffee consumption, Arabica is by far the most popular and the bean that you’d usually think of as “coffee.” On the flip side, it’s also the most expensive type, due to the plant’s delicate nature and lower rate of bean production.
The 40% of coffee drinkers that don’t drink Arabica coffee generally drink Robusta coffee — and many enjoy a blend of the two. More vine-like than bush-like, the Robusta coffee plant is hardier than the Arabica coffee plant and requires less in the way of pesticides and maintenance. It also produces coffee beans more quickly and abundantly than Coffea Arabica, resulting in a much more budget-friendly bean. As far as the experience goes, Robusta coffee has a more bitter, earthy taste than Arabica coffee and around twice the caffeine. It also produces that iconic brown crema more effectively than Arabica coffee — making it the variety of choice for Italian espressos.
Which Coffee Is Best?
The variety that you prefer really comes down to personal preference and the way you drink your coffee. If you need a shot of energy to get up and exercise in the morning (generally regarded as a highly effective and safe alternative to pre-workout products), Robusta provides the caffeine you need to wake yourself up and focus on your workout. Robusta is also a fabulous choice for iced coffee, sundaes, ice cream, and cooking because its strong, bitter flavor stands up to the creaminess and sweetness of the other ingredients. However, for weight loss, you’re probably better going with a cream-free espresso and exercise!
Arabica coffee, in contrast, tastes perfect on its own with either the slow-drip or pour-over methods, with milk or without. If you’re someone who needs a milder flavor and can’t afford the calories of sugar and cream, you might be better off going with Arabica coffee!
Other Factors When Choosing Coffee
Above and beyond the genus of the plant, you’ll want to consider the human and environmental impact of your choice. Because many coffee plantations are grown in third-world countries, workers are often underpaid and the pesticides wreak havoc on the local environment. For a responsible, healthier coffee (of whichever type), try to look for a brand that is certified fair trade, grown organically, and shade-grown to maximize the nutrients.
Ready to Get Adventurous?
Of course, while Arabica and Robusta coffee are by far the two most common kinds around today, there are actually 120 different species of coffee and coffee-like plants that you can use to put a pep in your step. Within the world of coffee alone, there is Liberica coffee (Coffea Liberica) and Excelsa coffee (Coffea Liberica var. Dewevrei). Then, there are other members of the coffee family — such as kratom from the tropical Mitragyna Speciosa tree — that offer an alternative kind of energizing effect without the same caffeine content as coffee.