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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Fueling up for work

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Pouring a cup.
SIKESTON -- "Oh, no!" a woman gasped when she walked up to the cappuccino machine at Fas Gas convenience store Wednesday morning.

The worst of worsts happened to the cappuccino drinker. Her favorite flavor, English toffee, was out of service. She quickly got over it and settled for French vanilla.

Buzz Ferrell said he makes a coffee stop nearly every morning, except for weekends. "I don't know if it's the flavor or the caffeine that I like about coffee. I really don't know," he pondered.

For nearly 3,000 years, coffee has aided in jumpstarting a person's day. Today coffee houses offer more than one variety of coffee -- and even convenience stores have joined in, serving cappuccinos, espressos and lattes at their once coffee-only shops.

"Coffee is common in our society, and virtually every society," said Dr. Georganne P. Syler, registered dietitian and associate professor at Southeast Missouri State University.

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant. It's in coffee, chocolate, tea and cola drinks. It's a chemical stimulant, but it's natural. It's a mild-stimulant that's short-lasting, Syler said.

Over the last 40 years and recently, it's been found that the use of caffeine has no negative impact to health, no negative impact on fertility, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and breast disease, Syler said. But there aren't really any positives either, she added.

A lot of research has gone into caffeine, and it's been classified by the Food and Drug Administration as GRAS, which is an acronym for "generally recognized as safe," Syler explained.

"It's not an addiction, in that you become physically dependent, but it can certainly become a habit," Syler said. "The key is moderation."

Syler said 300 milligrams is a safe amount of caffeine to consume in one day. One cup of brewed coffee has between 70 and 120 milligrams of caffeine, a cup of tea has 50-100 milligrams of caffeine and one 12-ounce soda has 50-60 milligrams of caffeine.

It's not just winter, either. The die-hard coffee drinkers will even fuel up in the warmer months. Fas Gas convenience store owner Scott Jenkins said the regulars pass through every day.

On a given day, Fas Gas makes between 50 and 75 pots of coffee and 20 to 25 pounds of cappuccino, or 100-120 cups, Jenkins said. Huck's Food and Fuel Store makes approximately 40 pots of coffee each day and around five pounds of cappuccino, estimated Peggy Pearson, Huck's cashier.

Although more coffee than cappuccino is purchased each day, Pearson said cappuccino is growing. "More coffee is bought in the morning, but cappuccino is bought throughout the entire day. I think more of the younger people drink the cappuccino," Pearson noted.

Syler also said a lot of younger people are drinking caffei nated sodas in the mornings instead of coffee.

Among the different cappuccino flavors offered at Huck's are mocha, English toffee, French vanilla and the seasonal, pumpkin spice. Coffee and cappuccinos are such hot items that promotions such as loyalty cards and refillable thermoses are offered at Fas Gas and Huck's, respectively.

Recent research from the Faculty of Medicine in Lisbon, Spain, has shown that coffee can reduce the risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease. The study compared 54 Alzheimer's sufferers with 54 people who had not contracted the disease, matched with age and sex. They found that people who did not have Alzheimer's had been drinking nearly 200 milligrams of caffeine a day for 20 years --

that's just over two cups of brewed coffee a day. The study also said there is evidence to suggest that it can reduce the risk of contracting Parkinson's disease.

Although these findings are interesting, the public must be aware that this is a study of only 108 people, Syler noted. One weakness is that it's a retrospective study, which means it depends on the memory of the participants.

One proven perk from caffeine is its ability to increase athletic performance. Within the realm of sports and nutrition, caffeine can cause the body to burn fat longer with intense exercise, Syler said.

"Caffeine does make you alert, but only for a certain amount of time. Yes, it keeps you awake, but it won't give you acuity," Syler explained.

Sometimes, when caffeine-drinkers stop drinking caffeine, they may experience side effects like headaches, but they usually don't last longer than two or three days, Syler said.

Thirty-three-year-old Earnest Tubbs has been drinking coffee since he was 13 years old. He has tried cappuccino before, but prefers coffee -- straight black, he said.

"It wakes me up," Tubbs said. "I drink it all day long. Without it, I get a bad case of the shakes."