Beans and Genes

Beans and Genes

How does coffee really affect our bodies? It turns out the answer is more complicated and unclear than you might expect. Studies upon studies have been done on the long-term health of regular coffee drinkers, with mixed results. Some conclude that daily consumption is linked to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or heart disease. Others say that it’s linked to an increased risk of gastrointestinal problems, anemia, or heart disease.

First of all, these studies indicate correlation, not causation. What this means is that regular coffee consumption is linked to these problems and diseases, but it doesn’t necessarily cause them – there could be a third common factor that causes these effects. But one factor that most studies don’t take into account is genes.

Nutrigenomics is the study of the interaction of nutrition and genes. Nutrigenomics says that the health effects that you experience from consuming certain things can be determined in part by your genetic makeup. So let’s apply this to caffeinated coffee and its effect on a person’s risk for heart disease and Parkinson’s.

Heart Disease

A gene called CYP1A2 signals your liver to make one of two enzymes: CYP1A2 fast or CYP1A2 slow. If you have the gene that makes CYP1A2 fast, your liver is able to process and eliminate caffeine quite quickly, leading to a decreased risk of heart disease. If you have the gene that makes CYP1A2 slow, your liver processes and eliminates caffeine more slowly, leading to an increased risk of heart disease.
Isn’t that fascinating? One gene can determine whether your daily coffee habit helps or hinders you.


A gene called GRIN2A can affect your nervous system in one of two ways. If the gene acts one way, coffee can decrease your risk of Parkinson’s by up to 60%. If the gene acts another way, coffee doesn’t affect your risk of Parkinson’s.

So can my daily caramel latte be good for me?

The short answer is just what you would expect: no. Even if your genetic makeup is favourable when it comes to the possible health benefits of coffee, those benefits are based on the consumption of black coffee. So have your coffee however you want, but know that most health benefits are negated when you start dressing it up with milk, cream, sugar, and syrups.

cold brew coffee: north America’s newest sweetheart

cold brew coffee


As temperatures skyrocket, coffee consumers turn to the iced versions of their favourite beverages for their caffeine fix. Iced coffee can be made with either hot or cold brew coffee, and in Canada, cold brew coffee is officially in. Cold brew coffee refers to coffee that is steeped for long periods of time using room temperature or cold water. This method yields a smoother, sweeter brew with less acidity than its hot counterpart.

Cold brew coffee is particularly on trend this summer, as evidenced by Starbucks’ new line of cold brewed drinks. However, cold brew coffee has been around for centuries the earliest evidence comes from Japan in the 1600s, where they used the Kyoto method to produce cold coffee. The Kyoto method involves controlling the flow of water so that it falls drop by drop into the coffee grounds. In the past 10 year or so, this method along with the full immersion method have become increasingly popular in North America, starting in Southern USA and spreading to the rest of the continent.


First, you’ll need coffee. This one is great for cold brew coffee:

Honduras San Marcos

Full Immersion: This is the easiest and most popular way to make cold brew coffee at home. All you need is coarsely ground coffee, chilled or room temperature filtered water, and either a French press or a mason jar and a coffee filter. Measure out the coffee grounds and water based on an approximate 1:8 coffee-to-water ratio. Place both in the French press or mason jar, stir, and let sit either in or out of the fridge for 18 24 hours. If youre using a French press, use the plunger to separate the grounds from the coffee. If youre using a mason jar, filter the grounds out using a coffee filter or a fine mesh strainer. Store in the fridge.

Easy Kyoto-Style Cold Brew: For a taste of Kyoto-style cold brew without investing in a cold brew drip tower, use this hack.


50 g coarsely ground coffee

12+ oz receptacle


2 Aeropress filters

12 oz chilled water bottle

Push pin


Puncture the cap of the water bottle with the push pin, making the hole as small as possible. Test the flow one drop should come out every 1-2 seconds. Assemble the Aeropress and place the coffee grounds inside. Moisten the grounds with a small amount of water from the water bottle. Level the grounds and trim the second filter so that you can place it on top of the grounds. Place the Aeropress on top of the receptacle and the water bottle cap-side down on top of Aeropress. When the water bottle is empty, disassemble everything and store the receptacle in the fridge.

Hot bloom: Some coffee lovers are not fans of cold brew coffee because it removes the lighter, acidic notes present in good quality coffee that’s brewed hot. The hot bloom cold brew method is perfect for people who enjoy the acidity of hot coffee but don’t want their iced coffee watered down with melted ice cubes. For this method, follow the above recipe for full immersion cold brew, but heat about 30% of your initial water volume and slowly pour it over the coffee grinds before adding the rest of the water.


If you’re like me and you can’t handle your cold brewed coffee “neat” or “on the rocks,” here are a few different serving ideas.

Iced Latte: Start with a 1:1 ratio of cold brew to water or milk, and adjust according to your taste. Add simple syrup or agave syrup if you prefer your coffee sweet. Serve over ice.

The Derby:

1.5 oz cold brew

¼ oz mint syrup

1 oz bourbon

2-3 oz of club soda

Combine and serve over ice.

Mocha Smoothie (

2/3 cup cold brew

2/3 cup milk of choice

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

2 pitted dates or half a banana

1 tsp cocoa powder

2 cups of ice

Blend and garnish with cacao nibs.

*Consuming caffeine and alcohol at the same time can make you feel less inebriated than you really are. Please enjoy responsibly.


go cubes – the future of coffee?

go cubes

Sweet, portable, convenient, affordable, and better than a cup of coffee. These are a few claims made by Nootrobox about Go Cubes. Go Cubes are chewable gummy squares made from cold brew coffee, designed for an on-the-go energy boost when you don’t have time to sit down and sip. Each cube contains 50 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to about half a cup of coffee. Sounds like a dream come true for busy caffeine addicts, right?

Go Cubes aren’t just coffee, though. They also contain nootropics (supplements that boost cognition) such as L-theanine, vitamins B3, B6, and B12, glucuronolactone, inositol, and folic acid. You can read more about this here. Most of these supplements have been proven to enhance cognitive function, although one review points out that inositol is only effective in much higher doses than Go Cubes contain. L-theanine in particular is a green tea extract that serves to counteract the jitters that some people experience when they have caffeine.

Reviews so far have been mixed. While everyone seems to agree that Go Cubes are convenient and effective, there have been some complaints about the taste. One reviewer said that it was “sweet… but after a couple of chews the taste instantly turned bitter.” Another likened the aftertaste to “drinking nothing but coffee for a week while not brushing your teeth.” Out of the three flavours – pure drip, mocha, and latte – the lighter latte flavour seems to be most popular. However, reviewers have pointed out that it’s very difficult to tell the flavours apart. There’s a mix in each package of four and they’re all varying shades of dark brown. Others complained of upset stomachs and bad coffee breath.

Odd taste aside, most reviewers agreed that the cubes simplified their morning and pre-workout routines, and helped them keep track of their caffeine intake. Are Go Cubes the future of coffee? Maybe not, but they’re certainly another fresh, innovative way to get your fix.