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Coffee as a COVID Detector? Surprising Discoveries

coffee aroma

Coffee does a lot for us: wakes us up, boosts our moods, and possibly even protects us from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. But there is a new coffee benefit in town, and it may surprise you.

The strong, distinctive aroma of coffee has made it a useful tool for detecting the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 has a mysterious symptom, and coffee is (strangely enough) a useful test! Many patients report a loss of sense of smell and taste — and coffee is the perfect thing to test their senses on.

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Loss of Smell Due to COVID-19

According to the CDC, losing your sense of smell is one of the major symptoms of COVID-19. Up to 80% of COVID patients experience anosmia — the aptly named loss of smell — and scientists believe that it may be a more useful diagnostic tool than symptoms like fevers and coughs. While those other symptoms could indicate a cold or the flu, anosmia is more particular to this illness. Recent research suggests it’s a very good indicator because it’s so unusual.

The good news for many COVID patients is that most regain their sense of smell. So if you’ve lost yours, an aromatic cup of coffee may still be in your future!

bald man drinking coffee
Image Credit: Justin Buisson, Unsplash

What causes that loss of smell?

If you’re wondering why this virus can cause you to lose your sense of smell, you’re certainly not alone! This symptom has been puzzling to doctors and scientists since it was first discovered. With a typical cold or flu, you might lose your sense of smell because of congestion. It’s hard to smell through a very runny nose. But this disease doesn’t typically cause sinus issues.

Originally, doctors and researchers thought it might be the virus going after your brain, but new research points to the nasal epithelium — a layer of cells in your nose that help you identify smells. The virus may be attacking those cells, preventing you from making sense of the odors around you.

collapsed milk froth on coffee
Image Credit: Matthias Oberholzer, Unsplash

Why coffee can help detect COVID-19

Coffee — along with other foods like garlic and chili peppers — has an unusually strong and unique smell. If you have ever walked into a room and smelled the coffee from hours before or left a coffee shop reeking of java, you know how powerful this smell is. In essence, if you can’t smell your cup of coffee, you probably can’t smell anything else, either.

See also: All About Coffee Aroma

Keep in mind that testing your sense of smell is just one diagnostic tool that your doctor might use — and being able to smell isn’t a guarantee of health. If you have questions about your sense of smell, you may want to talk to your doctor.

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The Bottom Line

So what’s the takeaway? Coffee has found a new purpose as a COVID-19 diagnostic test! The distinctive aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee can help determine whether or not you have the virus.

So when you’re making your morning cup of coffee, take a moment to savor that pungent aroma. Coffee has always been useful, and this discovery is just the cherry on top. As if we needed more reasons to love this tasty beverage

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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