Differences Between Coffee Brewing Methods as an Explanation for Physiological Effects

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Squeezin' Beans
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#1: Post by Squeezin' Beans »

I'm posting this in Brewing, but I feel I might be mistaken, as this topic may be misdirected at the brewing method, so Mods, if you feel there's a better category for this thread, please move it.

Disclaimer out of the way, I wanted to ask a question to those with more wisdom and experience than I. In my travels, I have found that the coffee I consumed in Japan did produce a different cognitive/physiological effect than the coffee I've consumed elsewhere, which is limited to the US and Western Europe. I often find that coffee brewed in the US can lead to feeling hot, excessively so, as well as anxiety and jitters. When in Japan, I found Coffee to produce calm, meditative focus.

I've consumed coffee many different ways in Japan, and in all cases, I never encountered coffee with a buzz like in the US. This is after many types and roast levels of coffee. I've always chalked it up to the Japanese being very particular when it comes to selection of agricultural products, but I'm not sure if that's necessarily the case when applied to the effects the coffee produces.

Is my experience mirrored by others? Are there others who have delved deeper into this topic to try to understand the effects at work here?

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#2: Post by zefkir »

Japanese coffee is sourced from the same countries as coffee in the US and in Western Europe.

Is there any possibility that the reason might the the surroundings and the context rather than the drink itself?

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#3: Post by Almico »

Never been myself, but rumor has it the Japanese like their coffee darker (and bitter). All other things equal, darker coffee has slightly less caffeine. But my guess it is your experience is more likely due to environmental context than the coffee itself. Coffee always tastes better in Ferrari than a Yugo.

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#4: Post by TallDan »

Also, was your diet the same in Japan as at home? (Seems unlikely) I definitely notice a difference in caffeine's effects depending on what I've been eating.

Give me a big traditional American breakfast with eggs and hash browns plus a cup of restaurant coffee with robusta and I'll feel very warm and a little jittery. Never sure why that combination has that effect on me, but it's easily repeatable. And it's not just the caffeine level of the robusta.

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Team HB
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#5: Post by baldheadracing »

zefkir wrote:Japanese coffee is sourced from the same countries as coffee in the US and in Western Europe.
Sort of. Tanzania is a good example; while we will see Tanzanian Peaberry occasionally in North America, the majority of higher-grade coffee grown in Tanzania goes to Japan. (Japan imports more from Tanzania than any other African country other than Ethiopia.) Yemen is a similar example - at least in less war-torn times. There are a few other similar situations where Japanese importers are the biggest customers in specific segments, for example, in areas of Columbia. There can be less caffeine from higher-grown coffees.

In addition, traditional (Kissaten) coffee in Japan is, relative to Western countries, second-crack+ roasts more slowly extracted with less water and much lower brew temperatures. These differences can reduce the amount of caffeine extracted and also affect the extraction of other chemicals.

Regardless, as others have noted, I suspect that it is surroundings and diet that have the biggest impact.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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Kaffee Bitte
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#6: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

Caffeine producing plants also produce theobromine and theophylline as well in varying amounts. They are all stimulants of different body systems and can have some synergistic and also opposing effects.

It is not common to hear much of the other two but considering that caffeine is king the other two aren't tested for and so are often overlooked. You might see a caffeine content on the label, but I sure don't recall seeing one for either Theo.

Tea tends to have lower caffeine and more theophylline with quite low theobromine. Coffee is high caffeine and highly varying theobromine and low theophylline.

Theobromine is a bowel stimulant and definitely at least part of the reason some percentage of people have to visit the restroom post coffee. Theophylline is a respiratory stimulant and seems to account for at least some of teas calming effect.

It would not surprise me to find that some regions produce a coffee with higher theobromine levels while another had elevated theophylline with low caffeine. Or perhaps it is altitude and insect dependent like caffeine in coffee, since these three drugs are all plant based insect repellents in essence.

I have wondered about this in relation to some island coffees I have tried over the years. Some of them seem to have a tealike feel to the stimulant effects. Not the zip and slap awake that some coffees can do, more like a calm gradual rise.
Lynn G.
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