Welcome from the Director
Peter Martin, MD
Americans love their java. Half of us drink it every day, even though we know little about coffee’s chemical make-up, what it does in the human body, where it comes from, or who produced it.
Coffee has played a major role in shaping the economy, history, and social structure of much of Latin America. ICS explores the multiple aspects of this important export, from the farmers’ cultivation of the beans to the complexities of trade to the rise in fair trade marketing.
What does coffee do? Many of us have worried that something this good must be bad for you. But the latest scientific evidence indicates that in moderation (2 to 4 cups per day) coffee may offer key health benefits. ICS is the first research institute to study exactly how this may be. Not much is known about this side of coffee because most studies have focused on caffeine—but coffee contains hundreds of compounds that are poorly studied to date. This research may contribute to a better understanding and treatment of some of the most prevalent diseases of humankind, such as addiction, depression, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
ICS’s pioneering bio-medical research into the properties of coffee is complemented by its expanding focus on the history, sociology, literature, economic development potential, and other aspects of this enticing crop.
Humans have decided, for whatever the reason, to drink coffee. It’s apparently not dangerous; indeed, it appears to have some benefit. ICS explores this exciting opportunity to identify other chemicals in coffee and study their effects, to better understand the role of coffee in local and global economies, and to study the cultural importance of this remarkable commodity.