class notes: top five

Five ways to ruin a pot of coffee

Roseane Santos, PhD ’05, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, South University School of Pharmacy


Your morning cup of joe does more than jolt you into consciousness. It’s chock full of benefits, says Roseane Santos, and she should know. She’s spent more than two decades researching the potential health effects of coffee, which include improved memory, a boost in exercise endurance, and reduced risk of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. 

Santos began studying how natural products affect the human body as a master’s student at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in the late 1980s. After receiving her PhD from UB in pharmaceutical sciences, she decided to focus exclusively on coffee research. “After all,” she says, “Brazil is the first world producer of coffee and America is the No. 1 consumer.” 

Santos currently runs a research laboratory at South University in Savannah, Ga., dedicated to the study of coffee and health. Based on her findings, she advocates drinking three to four cups a day. As an avid java drinker herself, she knows how to make a cup that packs in both the benefits and the taste. We asked her for the top five things not to do when brewing a pot of coffee. 

Illustration by Michael Korfhage.

Illustration by Michael Korfhage

Five ways to ruin a pot of coffee:

1. Tap in
Save the sink water for your hands and dishes. The high content of chlorine and other chemicals in tap water can produce off flavors in your coffee. 

2. Heat and repeat
Freshly brewed coffee is best. Don’t allow it to cool and reheat it. Doing so will kill the flavor and degrade the healthy compounds in it. 

3. Double dip
Similarly, if you reuse coffee grounds, you will lose both the health properties and the flavor. On the plus side, spent grounds can be used for other purposes, such as biofuel. 

4. Resist change
Every type of coffee has a different water-to-coffee proportion. For example, if you’re using a new brand that’s a dark roast, you should increase the amount of water. Experiment until you get the ratio right. 

5. Sweeten the deal
Coffee should be plain. At most, you can add a little sugar or cream. But really, good coffee is just coffee.