Coffee, caffeine and health
Coffee is enjoyed by millions of people around the world and is one of the most extensively researched components in the diet. Taken overall, the research indicates that moderate coffee consumption can be part of a healthy, balanced diet for the general adult population and may even confer health benefits.
Coffee is enjoyed for its taste and aroma but also for its mild stimulant effects on body and mind. Caffeine has been well identified as being the active compound in coffee responsible for this effect.
Caffeine naturally occurs in some 60 plant species of which cocoa-beans, kola nuts, tea leaves and coffee beans are the most well-known. It is also used as an addition in some foods, soft drinks and medicines.
The scientific evidence shows that caffeine does not induce dependence, as also confirmed by WHO. Abrupt cessation of caffeine consumption may however lead to withdrawal symptoms in some regular caffeine consumers but these are generally not severe and of short duration.
Coffee is a contributing source of caffeine in the diet, but is mainly consumed by adults. The EFSA Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database shows that coffee consumption by children is negligible and that of adolescents is very limited. A typical cup of black coffee contains 85mg of caffeine. The exact amount will vary depending on brewing method, strength of brew, cup size and type of coffee bean. A detailed overview on the amount of caffeine consumed in popular beverages is available in this infographic.
Coffee drinking is inherently self-limiting. Coffee is most commonly consumed as a hot beverage, savoured sip by sip over time. The stimulating effects of caffeine become evident to coffee consumers gradually, and they will naturally adapt their continued consumption to their individual tolerance levels.
The effects of caffeine vary from one individual to another depending on genetics, metabolism, smoking habits, how much is normally consumed and (in case of women) pregnancy. It has long been acknowledged that pregnant women should moderate their caffeine intake to 200 mg per day from all sources. Coffee is much more than caffeine. There are many other components in coffee and the interaction between these components may have health benefits.
Further information on coffee, caffeine and health can be found here: www.coffeeandhealth.org