SERVING SIZE: 1 tbsp
SPECIES: Coffea arabica
Compare coffee with these other ferments
How Can This Ayurvedic Food Make You Feel Great?
Coffee as a SacramentWhat are your rituals around coffee? Coffee has become a sacrament in our culture. A client reports, "The only time my husband and I relax together is over coffee." My response, "If your marriage is dependent on coffee, you might be addicted."
Coffee surpasses tea as the number one consumed drug. It contains high amounts of caffeine, which stimulates the adrenals to release stress hormones. These stress hormones overstimulate the mind, and numb the heart. New trades routes brought caffeine to Europe in the 1500s, stimulating the 'Age of Enlightenment' and ending the middle ages. Before that time, the center of the mind was the heart. Since Enlightenment, the center of the mind is the brain. Perhaps the shift is due to caffeine consumption? Ayurveda comes from an older time where the mind was not separate from feelings and science was not separate from spirituality.
Native Meso-Americans drank coffee, ate chocolate and smoked tobacco as medicinal herbs, sacraments and in shamanic ceremony, a practice that continues to this day. However, many non-native Americans consume these substances daily, without the adequate knowledge of their potency or effects on the nervous system.
A Love Affair with CoffeeCan you remember what black coffee tasted like as a child? Most kids reject coffee. How have your taste buds changed? That may help you break the habit. Many of my clients drink coffee because the "like the taste," However, of all their coveted foods, usually coffee is the only food they drink daily.
Although we think we like coffee because of the taste, it's possible that the body learns to like coffee without our conscious participation because of its effect on our metabolism. Coffee offers the false promise of energy and vitality, and reorients all of our sense organs toward it. Vitality is the one substance all life forms crave.
However, all that glitters is not gold. The human body was not built for the break-neck pace of our lives in industrialized society. Covering up these uncomfortable life choices with coffee prevents growth & healing. As a general rule of thumb, in Ayurveda we never take an herb for more than 3 months in a row. Coffee, one of nature's most powerful herbs, is no exception.
Many people drink coffee when they are tired in the morning or at 3pm. People with aggravated Kapha dosha feel sluggish in the morning and need a 'pick-me-up'. If you have aggravated Kapha, avoiding heavy, oily, or sweet foods at night will bring a more authentic and vital 'pep to your step' the next morning. In the morning, wash your face with cold water, drink a hot cup of ginger tea, and practice a fifteen minute exercise routine to revive circulation.
If your adrenal glands are exhausted, you'll crave coffee most at 3pm. Unfortunately, the energy boost you receive after drinking coffee depletes the adrenals even further. This process is much like whipping a tired horse. Coffee is akin to a metabolic credit card. Sooner or later, you have to repay the debt. Ultimately, coffee increases exhaustion, anxiousness and fear, especially in Vata individuals who tend to have dry endocrine glands. Coffee over-stimulates the adrenals depleting them of fluids and creating more dryness. Licorice root in a warm glass or water nourishes the kidneys. Vata may combat tired afternoons with a homemade version of Gatorade(tm). Squeeze a wedge of lime and a pinch of salt into warm water.
Breaking the Coffee AddictionCoffee has a heavy, hearty, oily quality that is more satisfying than a simple herbal tea with water. To wean yourself from coffee, instead try herbal teas with almond milk. Rice and oat milk work as well. Reduce your coffee consumption in half each month, replacing it with one of these, or your own favorite substitute. Spices such as ginger will provide more balanced stimulation during the process.
Coffee and Reproductive OrgansCoffee affects hormones. Post or peri-menopausal women should not drink coffee because it targets the reproductive organs. Non organic coffee is worse because it carries pesticides directly to reproductive tissue. Coffee irritates the lining of the digestive tract and should be avoided by people with digestive problems. It has a laxative effect. One study reports that coffee is linked to reduced breast size.
Withdrawal symptoms of coffee include constipation, headaches, and irritability. Since the body quickly habituates itself to coffee within several days, chronic caffeine consumption simply brings our energy levels back to normal, preventing a much needed crash.