Greek/Turkish Coffee Highlighted As Key to Longer Life in New Study

Dinner is over, dessert has been eaten. Time for Greek Coffee or Turk kavesi! Greek Coffee also known as Armenian Coffee or Turkish Coffee (really it’s all the same coffee) is famous world over for its unique taste and presentation. The story behind this special coffee is that a shepherd herder once noticed that his sheep became hyperactive after eating the berries growing on coffee plants. The shepherd herder wanted in! Although coffee plants were originally once forbidden for being a sin for a while, it has now become irreplaceable! In fact, the first serial production and sale date back to the 18th century and from there its been non-stop production as this coffee is a staple in Mediterranean whether it early morning, afternoon sip, post dessert or gossip coffee time. A new study has actually linked Greek Coffee to a longer life! Only 0.1% of Europeans live to be over 90, yet on the Greek island of Ikaria, the figure is 1%. This is recognized as one of the highest longevity rates anywhere -- and the islanders tend to live out their longer lives in good health. In a new study in Vascular Medicine, published by SAGE, researchers investigating cardiovascular health believe that a cup of boiled Greek coffee holds the clue to the elderly islanders' good health which is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants Gerasimos Siasos, a medical doctor and professor at the University of Athens Medical School, Greece set out with his team to find out whether the elderly population's coffee drinking had an effect on their health. In particular, the researchers investigated links between coffee-drinking habits and the subjects' endothelial function. The endothelium is a layer of cells that lines blood vessels, which is affected both by aging and by lifestyle habits (such as smoking). The team homed in on coffee because recent studies suggest that moderate coffee consumption may slightly reduce the risks of coronary heart disease, and that it may also have a positive impact on several aspects of endothelial health. It may also be that Greek Coffee has high antioxidant protection to protect the endothelium layer from free radical damage…either way drink more Greek Coffee :)

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), coffee is not a health risk for most people and in fact researchers are testing for a positive connection between Alzheimer's disease and memory. Also the NIH reports that most of the studies examining coffee consumption and type-2 diabetes have demonstrated that coffee drinking is linked to a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes, although adding sugar may cancel its benefits. Scientists suggest that the lowered risk is caused by something other than caffeine.

Greek/Turkish coffee preparation uses standard coffee beans to produce boiled, unfiltered coffee. Making Greek/Turkish coffee is much different from the way most Westerners brew their cup of Joe. The process starts with extra-fine coffee grounds. Often a special hand grinder called a khave degirmeni is used, because electric grinders cannot produce a fine-enough powder. Cold water and the coffee powder are put into a traditional Turkish coffee pot, which has a long handle. Some people also add sugar. The pot is held over the stove and heated slowly. The coffee is then poured into tiny coffee cups, along with the grounds, which settle to the bottom.

And the best part for me about it is the memories I have drinking this coffee with my mom; memories which we still create today when we find ourselves home. Even if I am about to step out of the door, my mom asks if we can have 5 minutes of coffee time to talk, reflect and sometimes get my silly finchan read. Finchan is when you flip over the cup and the coffee grinds are able to determine your fortune. For example, a finchan reader can see whether there’s a plane figure made from the grinds and you’ll be traveling soon or a flag meaning you are going to conquer something. For me, my finchan reading was always my mom’s way to reassure me that everything was going to be okay- I was going to do well on my test or do great in my presentation …whatever it was I needed the reassurance for. Somehow, it was easier to believe the finchan reading than my mom…but all I know is that everything did and does turn out okay so maybe the finchan reading is true after all :)