Coffee and Health

Coffee and Health

Caffeine (C8H10N4O2) is a white, slightly bitter alkaloid. sometimes also called "theine". It is a natural ingredient in coffee, where it comprises two to three per cent of the weight of each bean, or from about 6090 mg in an average cup of coffee. Robusta coffee has a much higher caffeine content than does arabica. As well as in coffee, caffeine is found in about 60 other plants, such as tea, cocoa, guarana and kola, and in products made from them, such as chocolate and cola-based soft drinks.

Because caffeine, as a stimulant of the central nervous system and cerebral circulation, imparts a feeling of energy and can often alleviate headaches, it is an ingredient in many pharmaceutical products, particularly those for headaches and colds. It is also a diuretic.

Tests have proved that caffeine increases mental alertness and the ability to concentrate, but the idea that strong coffee can offset the effects of too great a consumption of alcohol is a fallacy. Coffee does not 'sober up" a truly inebriated person. Rather, it wakes one up, and as a sleepy drunk is preferable to a lively one, administering strong coffee to counter the alcohol is probably not a good idea. Also, the ensuing hangover seems to be worsened by the added complication of large doses of caffeine.

Excess Coffee

In general, too much caffeine consumption can cause palpitations, shaky hands, a feeling of anxiety and an inability to sleep. "Too much", however, varies enormously among caffeine consumers: for some people a single cup of coffee causes ill effects, while others thrive on ten cups a day. Coffee is one of the most widely-researched substances on earth, and yet scientific and medical opinions are still extremely divided. There is every reason to believe that the individual coffee drinker, exercising some degree of moderation according to his or her level of caffeine tolerance, can probably look forward to many years of "safe" coffee enjoyment.


Coffee is an acidic drink, especially if it is high-grown arabica, and many people, who find that coffee upsets their stomach, blame the caffeine content instead of the acidity. Decaffeination does not remove acidity. so drinking decaffeinated coffee is not the solution for stomach upset. Acid-neutralized coffees are difficult to find, but they are available in North America and the United Kingdom. in France (cafe allege) and Germany (reizarmer Kaffee). They may not, however, be particularly tasty, as it is acidity that contributes so crucially to the flavors of high-grown arabicas and their blends.

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