Exploring Coffee’s Health Impact: Is It a Friend or a Foe?

Jerry Seinfeld once humourously summed up our love affair with coffee: “We want to do a lot of stuff; we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.” But beyond the laughter, where does coffee stand when it comes to our health? Let’s break it down and separate fact from fiction.

Recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that caffeinated coffee may not be as detrimental to health as once thought. In fact, moderate consumption – about three to five cups a day – has been associated with a reduced risk of certain diseases and mortality.

But what about the caffeine? While coffee boasts beneficial phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals, caffeine can have both positive and negative effects depending on individual metabolism. Approximately half of the population are “slow” caffeine metabolisers, which means they may be more susceptible to adverse effects like anxiety and heart disease.

Key Takeaways

  • Personalised Impact: Coffee affects everyone differently, with some individuals experiencing anxiety or agitation at high doses. Slow caffeine metabolisers, in particular, may need to monitor their intake more closely to avoid negative side effects.
  • Consider External Factors: Pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, and smoking can all influence caffeine metabolism, altering its effects on the body. It’s essential to be mindful of these factors when assessing coffee consumption.
  • Coffee vs. Sleep: While coffee can provide a temporary energy boost, it’s no substitute for quality sleep. Relying on caffeine to compensate for sleep deprivation can perpetuate a cycle of fatigue and stress, negatively impacting overall health. If you want to learn more about the connection between coffee consumption and insomnia, this article could provide valuable insights.
  • Serving Size Awareness: A standard cup of coffee in research terms is eight ounces, yet many commercial servings exceed this volume. Clients should be aware of their true coffee intake and consider reducing consumption if necessary.

In the ongoing debate over coffee’s health effects, moderation and individualisation are key. By understanding how coffee interacts with our bodies and considering lifestyle factors, we can make informed choices that support overall well-being. So, whether you’re sipping a morning brew or contemplating that afternoon pick-me-up, remember – it’s all about balance.


So Jerry Seinfeld Called Us to Talk about Coffee. NPR: The Salt. April, 2013.

Van Dam RM, Hu FB, Willett WC. Coffee, Caffeine, and Health. N Engl J Med . 2020 Jul 23;383(4):369–78.