Is it Coffee or Caffeine? – By Dr. Hilana Omar

Photograph Credits: Christoph

Coffee lovers are people who appreciate coffee in every way. Their mornings can’t start without it. Their moods swing along with its aroma into rainbows and butterflies. On the other side, normal people can’t seem to understand a love like that, and the first comment we hear is how unhealthy it is and how one will soon die with a heart attack because one has had 2-3 cups of coffee a day.

Debates and arguments over this topic are endless. Articles are being posted here and there with different information that lack evidence, and still not convincing enough. As a doctor and a coffee lover myself, I couldn’t stop myself from going through researches and studies published for the past 11 years and honestly what i found was astonishingly interesting. These articles are a result of 38 hours of reading and researching, I hope it will be beneficial to everyone.

How could you love something and not know its history ?

Well , I searched that up too. No one knows exactly when or how it was discovered. Different legends exist but based on Wikipedia, coffee was first found in Ethiopia, Africa. Its first use goes back to at least 10 centuries back.

“The word qahwah originally referred to a type of wine, whose etymology is given by Arab lexicographers as deriving from the verb qahā (قها, “to lack hunger”) in reference to the drink’s reputation as an appetite suppressant.The word qahwah is sometimes alternatively traced to the Arabic quwwa (“power, energy”), or to Kaffa, a medieval kingdom in Ethiopia whence the plant was exported to Arabia. These etymologies for qahwah have all been disputed, however. The name qahwah is not used for the berry or plant (the products of the region), which are known in Arabic as bunn and in Oromo as būn. Semitic had a root qhh “dark color” which became a natural designation for the beverage. According to this analysis, the feminine form qahwah (also meaning “dark in color, dull(ing), dry, sour”) was likely chosen to parallel the feminine khamr (خمر, “wine”), and originally meant “the dark one,” says Wikipedia.

So, How much is too much ?

Coffee is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, in the U.S., an individual consumes 4.2 kg per year, a whole population consumes 1.3 metric tons per year, placing the beverage “neck to neck with soft drinks,” says the national coffee association.

It could be so confusing to judge how much coffee consumption is too much, or dangerous, because there are different sizes of cups and different intensities too, for instance in the U.S., a cup (8 oz) is twice the European serving, so on what bases do we judge how much caffeine is in a single cup ? Well it depends on the beans, how they are roasted, and how the coffee is prepared. Let us take this example, a serving of an espresso 1 oz can contain 40-75 mg of caffeine, even decaffeinated espresso has up to 15 mg caffeine; on the other hand, an 8oz cup of an instant generic coffee can contain any amount from 27-173 mg of caffeine, while a 16 oz cup of brewed coffee contains 330 mg of caffeine.

So, a moderate intake of coffee is around 300 mg per day which is roughly 3-4 cups of ground roasted coffee or 5 cups of instant coffee, but who said that coffee is the only source of caffeine ??

It isn’t. Tea, cocoa beans, sodas, ice-cream, weight loss pills, painkillers, energy drinks, energy water, breath fresheners, sunflower seeds, cold/flu meds, and a lot more hidden sources. There isn’t a definitive way to know how much is our caffeine intake per day, but they make an estimate based on the coffee intake. As we all read about health risks of coffee, more like early death, heart attack, insomnia, weight loss, an increase in blood pressure, difficulty in digestion, headaches, miscarriage in pregnancy, and a lot more. Till now most of these are still left without evidence, but a lot of researches and studies have been on-going, interested to know ?? Then hold on and wait for the next article, which will hold enough surprises 😉


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