It won’t come as a surprise to many that coffee contains caffeine. That’s a big part of the reason why people drink it: there’s nothing like a good cup of joe to wake you up in the morning. Of course, it’s delicious, too. We’re admittedly biased but, when it comes to coffee, you really can’t go wrong. But what about caffeine? How much are we really drinking…and is it bad for you, or beneficial?
Wondering about the wonder drug
Let’s take a closer look at the wonder drug itself. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that is found in many natural substances like coffee, tea, cocoa, guarana and kola nuts.
Caffeine can heighten mental acuity, dispel that ‘tired’ feeling and promote a sense of wellbeing. It’s also used in medicine to improve the effects of some pain relievers, to speed up the metabolism for things like weight loss and for alertness. It’s even used to help breathing in premature babies.
On the flip side, caffeine can also give you the jitters and can even cause heart palpitations in some people. It’s thought to have a negative impact on other aspects of health as well, like pregnancy & fertility.
The truth is, the science isn’t conclusive in either direction. What is known, though, is that people have been drinking coffee—sometimes copious daily doses—for hundreds of years. For the most part, they’ve largely remained healthy. And, while Health Canada recommends a maximum intake of 400 mg of caffeine per day, or two to three cups of coffee, everyone’s caffeine experience is very personal.
How much caffeine is in my coffee?
The average cup of coffee contains 150-200 mg of caffeine. This neat chart put out by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest lists the caffeine content for coffees from a range of different sources from Starbucks to Maxwell House to Nespresso pods. It’s obvious from that source that caffeine content can really vary.
What we can tell you for sure is that if you drink coffee made with Arabica beans (like all of C2CC’s coffees) your dose will not be as high as it is with Robusta beans. Light or dark roasting doesn’t make a huge difference, since caffeine survives the roasting process pretty well. Caffeine concentration mostly depends on how strong you make your coffee. i.e. the coffee-to-water ratio. Assuming the same size of cup, more water = less caffeine.
Take espresso versus French press as an example. An average 12-ounce cup of French Press has about 150 mg of caffeine, while your average 2-ounce shot of espresso has about 90 mg. Why so much caffeine in such a small package? It comes down to a high coffee-to-water ratio, an extremely fine grind and highly efficient steam-powered coffee extraction. Need we say more?
Keep in mind that if you throw back a shot of espresso, you’re going to get a quicker buzz than you would sipping on a cup. But if that espresso shot becomes a cappuccino, the effect won’t be much different from your cup of French press.
A host of health benefits
According to Harvard Medical School, the health benefits of coffee far outweigh the risks. Coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of: cardiovascular diseases that cause heart attack, heart failure, and stroke; cirrhosis (liver); cancers such as liver, uterine and colon; Type 2 diabetes; and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Whew!
Those benefits aren’t specific to caffeine, but to coffee. Why coffee is good for your health still isn’t fully understood. But it could be that, besides caffeine, coffee also contains antioxidants, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
Our advice? Buy quality Arabica coffee (like C2CC’s!), drink as much of it as feels good to you…and enjoy every last drop.