What’s the Deal with Caffeine?
As a coffee lover, you’re probably familiar with caffeine and some of its effects. But there’s more to it than just the jolt you need to get out of the house in the morning. Here are a few things you might not know about caffeine.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant chemical found naturally in many plants, foods, and beverages. In its purest form, it is a white powder with a bitter, slightly soapy taste. Though you would never consume pure caffeine powder, that bitter taste comes through in many caffeinated foods and drinks. Although our favorite place to find caffeine is coffee, it can also be found in tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and more. An 8 oz cup of coffee has between 95-165 mg of caffeine, while a cup of green tea has about 25-29.
Caffeine is technically a drug, though a perfectly safe and legal one. And yes, you can become addicted to caffeine if you consume it regularly - even just a couple of cups of coffee per day. Caffeine dependence is not considered a serious addiction, but you may experience a few days of headaches and irritability if you quit cold turkey. (The moral of the story? Don’t let yourself run out of coffee!)
How does caffeine affect your health?
A strong cup of coffee may help you wake up in the morning, but that’s not where the benefits end. A few health benefits coffee and caffeine have been associated with are:
Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Decreased risk of some kinds of cancer
Longer life expectancy
And that’s not all! Caffeine can also be used to treat headaches and migraines, improve alertness, and more.
Of course, too much of a good thing can have effects as well. The FDA recommends limiting your caffeine consumption to about 400 mg per day. Because of its stimulant effect, caffeine can interact with some medications and have effects on those with certain health conditions. Each person processes caffeine differently, so it’s best to speak with a doctor with any concerns.
What kind of coffee has the most caffeine?
You may associate darker roast coffee with a higher caffeine content because of the strong flavor, but in fact, the opposite is true. Bean for bean, the caffeine content is about the same regardless of roast, but when measured by volume, light roast beans will produce a more caffeinated cup. This is because during the roasting process, the beans lose water content and puff up slightly, meaning that each dark roast coffee bean is slightly larger and weighs less than a lightly roasted bean. When measured by weight, however, the caffeine content is similar with different roast types.
Any difference between roasts is relatively minimal - the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee has more to do with how strongly you brew it. Coffee brewed with one tablespoon of grounds per cup will be lighter in both flavor and caffeine level, and increasing the coffee to water ratio will increase the caffeine content.
Now that’s enough to wake you up!