There's nothing mysterious about it: Drop for drop, you can't top coffee for good taste, good health, and a quick jolt of energy.

I'm talking about a fresh-brewed cup of oil-black java -- not some sugared-up Charbucks creation, of course.

And now, researchers claim plain old coffee contains something even healthier than caffeine and antioxidants... even if they can't figure out what it is.

Researchers gave mice that were bred to show Alzheimer's symptoms either regular coffee, decaf, or pure caffeine and found that mice given regular jo had the highest blood levels of granulocyte colony stimulating factor.

That's a protein that can help preserve memory and possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease -- and since mice fed pure caffeine didn't get the same GCSF buzz, the researchers leapt to a bizarre conclusion.

Coffee must contain something else!

Mice on decaf didn't get the boost, either -- so the researchers surmised this mystery ingredient must come and go with the caffeine.

That's a lot of leaping -- and doesn't sound like a discovery to me so much as a cry for more research money.

Who knows, maybe they'll get it.

But there's no mystery here -- a cup of coffee offers more benefits than a beaker of caffeine for the same reason that a steak is better than a protein shake: The whole is worth more than the sum of the parts.

In addition to caffeine, coffee is packed with healthy antioxidants -- and when taken together, they'll do more for your health than they ever would on their own.

And that includes brain protection.

Same story for tea -- and either drink, hot or iced, will also help your heart, lower your risk for Parkinson's disease, and even prevent cancer.

And that's no mystery.