Dear coffee: I love you. I have since the tender age of 15, and I've never once doubted your abilities to make my mornings more complete. I love you so much I drink you black. But are you good for me? Do I actually have a sane and salvageable relationship with you?

I'm not the type of person to gulp down gallons of coffee throughout the day. I stick to one or two cups and drink them ever so slowly — indulging in each sip's robust depth of flavors. And while I enjoy my morning cup of goodness, it seems I can't get through a week without overhearing someone declare that they're finally giving up coffee for good.

Is Coffee Good Or Bad For You?

Coffee is a big deal in America. In fact, at least 68 million Americans consume three cups of coffee each day, while about 30 million take down five or more every single day, and more than 21 million Americans drink six or more every day. And while I'm over here barely getting through my first cup, I can understand why some might feel their affection for the caffeinated beverage has gone too far. According to the Mayo Clinic, up to four cups of brewed coffee a day seems to be acceptable in healthy adults, which leaves quite a few sippers exposed to potential side effects like insomnia, irritability, restlessness, muscle tremors, and nervousness from the over-consumption of caffeine. And while caffeine itself is only found to be mildly addictive with no direct connection to serious health concerns, the acid found in coffee can cause an upset stomach, as well as worsen ulcers, heighten blood pressure and blood cholesterol, and speed up the heart rate.

But the good news is, coffee, when done right, is good for you. When consumed in low doses, it has been found to improve cognitive functions, increase alertness, prevent Parkinson's disease, ward off some types of cancer, and fight off the onset of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So, as the saying goes: Everything in moderation!

Why Drink Coffee?

People drink it for all sorts of reasons. Coffee is cultural. People wake up for coffee. People meet for coffee. They use it to get their bowels moving. They drink it for the flavor. For me, I feel it serves as a morning ritual that just so happens to kickstart my day with a jolt of alertness. But, whatever your reason, have you ever stopped to think about how different varietals can affect your brain function?

I hit up my local grocery market and filter through the flavors of the month, the ones on sale, the newbies, and whatever other title strikes my fancy and try out a new one quite often. Clearly, I have no preference, aside from liking it a medium roast and to smell delicious. The smell, however, is apparently much more than just that. Apparently, the aroma of our cup of joe can alter our brain waves.

How It Can Affect Our Brain Waves

According to recent studies conducted in Japan, the smells of specific coffee beans actually increase the alpha waves in the brain, which are found in high levels when you're in a relaxed state. To prove this theory, scientists tested the brain waves of participants while they sniffed an assortment of just-brewed coffees. What they discovered was a link between the onset of relaxation and Guatemalan and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. And it's not just the smell that matters. The researchers found that the roast is important, too. In fact, dark roasts trump the medium roasts in terms of chilling people out.
Brain scans
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When it comes to focusing, the researchers put the participants through tests in which they smelled different roasts and were evaluated on their response time. And while the studies concluded that the Guatemalan and Blue Mountain proved to score high, it was the Brazilian Santos, Hawaiian Kona, and Sumatra beans that increased data processing speeds the best, making them the go-to brews for getting things done.

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Which Type Of Coffee Should You Choose?

So, it all comes down to what you want out of your coffee. Did you get up earlier than usual and need to get a head start on work? Or perhaps you're burning the midnight fire to study for a big test or finish that project for your boss. In these cases, you'll want to opt for Brazilian Santos, Hawaiian Kona, and Sumatra. However, if you're using coffee as an excuse to meet up with a friend or because you're simply craving the taste in the late afternoon, stick to the relaxing beans of Guatemala and Jamaica. And for the full effect, make sure you're choosing the dark roast.

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