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Why you should drink coffee (and how to brew it best)

Woman holding up large coffee cup, ready to take a sip.

(Photo: Flickr/John Millar)

Why you should drink coffee (and how to brew it best)

By Dr. Jennifer Hanes on April 10, 2013

In an effort to lose weight (or eliminate sugar, dairy or artificial sweeteners) many people are giving up coffee.  However, with a few easy tips, this hot beverage could be key to a successful weight-loss journey.

Finding the perfect cup of coffee, without added sweeteners and milk, can save you hundreds of calories per day. Coffee can mildly accelerate of your metabolism, may increase mental alertness, and with a sprinkle of cinnamon can help you store less fat. Coffee is also a great source of antioxidants and can be a part of a healthy diet.

However, some people are sensitive to the effects of coffee and may find stomach upset, bladder irritation, insomnia, or frequent urination a side effect. So, as always, use common sense and see your own physician for specific questions.

How to create the perfect cup of coffee

I know all about this as I am a former sweetened-cream-with-a-splash-of-coffee drinker. I would never have imagined I would one day prefer the taste of black coffee over those creamy, foamy concoctions.

Start with fresh beans. The fresher the coffee beans, the better the flavor and the less you will need for a perfect cup. To start, buy a small amount of beans at the grocery store in different flavors to experiment. Once you find a category you enjoy (breakfast blend, French roast, Columbian, etc) then search the Internet for a roaster in your area. The difference in beans is spectacular! Order a bag and enjoy.

Grind your beans each day. Store your whole beans in an airtight container to slow the oxidation of the aromatic oils and flavors. Then, each day grind only the amount you need. This releases the flavor at the moment of enjoyment. You can find coffee grinders at many grocery stores for less than $20. Much of the bitter taste of coffee is the result of stale grounds. Beginning fresh each day makes for the perfect cup.

Brew with a consistent method. Use a French press for the most flavorful cup. This is a special carafe in which the beans and water sit in contact for a few minutes, then the grinds are "pressed" to the bottom to make that perfect cup. This is the technique used at nice restaurants for that delicious after dinner drink. The French press can be purchased for as little as $20. If you already own a personal coffee maker, like a Keurig, you could purchase an individual filter and use your fresh grinds in the machine.

Sprinkle with cinnamon. A sprinkle of Saigon Cinnamon adds a nice depth of flavor and may help blunt the insulin spike caused by your diet. This results in less fat stored from the same amount of calories enjoyed without the cinnamon addition. For many, adding cinnamon eases the switch from a cream and sugar laden cup to one filled solely with coffee.

Coffee is not only a wonderful way to start your morning but can also provide an afternoon pick-me-up without any calories. How do you enjoy this delicious beverage?

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Jennifer Hanes at DrHanes.com.