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February 2009

Part of My Morning Aromatherapy Ritual: Coffee!

Coffee Beans
Coffee Beans  
Drinking coffee is not a ritual that I classify as aromatherapy by any means, but I love the aroma of freshly ground and brewed coffee beans. The aroma is rich, strong and enticing. In its own way, the aroma is soothing despite the stimulant properties of the beans. Until a few months ago, I had never considered the aroma of coffee beans as one befitting my usually strict definition of aromatherapy. Coffee beans, especially the organic ones that I buy, are natural, but of course they are roasted.

Coffee Bean Absolute
  Vial Depicting Coffee Absolute
The oil that is contained within the coffee bean is responsible for its distinctive flavor. Prior to roasting, the beans and the oil derived from them smells quite green and somewhat bitter. In fact, unroasted coffee beans are referred to as green coffee beans. Oil that is extracted from roasted beans possesses the familiar aroma of freshly ground coffee beans. I'm not familiar with the availability of a steam distilled coffee essential oil, but it is available as a CO2, absolute and as a cold pressed oil (AromaWeb advertisers Nature's Gift sells a Coffee CO2 and sells both cold pressed roasted and green coffee oils and coffee bean butter).* View AromaWeb's Coffee Bean Oil Profile.

Converting to Black Coffee

Black coffee itself has no calories. Even if you steer clear of specialty coffee drinks and make your own coffee at home, the added calories can add up. Most Americans like to doctor up their coffee with creamers, half and half, flavored syrups, sugar, and so on. A few months ago, I became curious to the number of calories that I averaged per day in adding milk or creamer to my coffee. For me, I used to primarily use fat-free (skim) or 1% fat milk, plus calorie-free Stevia (a subject for a future post). But sometimes I would use sugar-free or fat-free creamers, and that's where the calories, for me, would skyrocket.

I started by taking a look at the actual quantity of milk or creamer I was adding to my coffee. Sitting at the very bottom of my generous mugs, it would look like I only added around a tablespoon but boy was I fooling myself. I discovered that I had been adding a whopping 2oz. per mug (that's the equivalent of 2 tablespoons/6 teaspoons). Yikes. Depending on what I'd add:

  • 2 oz. Skim Milk: 22 calories
  • 2 oz. 1% Milk: 28 calories
  • 2 oz. Name Brand Fat-Free Flavored Creamers: 100-150 calories
  • 2 oz. Name Brand Sugar-Free Flavored Creamers: 60 calories

That is one huge load of calories that I didn't realize I was consuming. Not to mention the added cholesterol, carbohydrates, fat or synthetic ingredients, depending on the option used. Fortunately I usually used organic skim or 1% milk, but that still adds up to a lot of unwanted calories and cholesterol. I'd rather get my calcium from my favorite smoothie (see recipe).

Here's an example of how you can do the math to calculate how many calories you'll save (and the corresponding weight!) by cutting out the high calorie additives.


Let's say that you drink 2 cups of coffee per day and that you add 2oz. of a sugar-free flavored creamer.

Calorie Calculation:

  • 2 cups of coffee per day x 60 calories of creamer per cup = 120 calories a day.
  • 120 calories per day x 365 days in a year = 43,800 calories consumed a year.
  • 43,800 calories in a year/3500 calories in a pound = 12.5 pounds.
    (You gain 1 lb. for every 3500 calories that you consume and do not burn up.)

After I did that math, I couldn't help but convert to drinking my coffee, black. And I find that I savor the flavor more.

For Additional Information on Coffee

If you would like information on the history, varieties and other helpful tips on buying and brewing the perfect cup of coffee, the following book might be perfect for you. I have an older edition of it and learned quite a bit:

Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing, and Enjoying, Fifth Edition

*If you are an AromaWeb advertiser that sells a natural coffee product, please let me know so I can update this post to mention your product.