Coffee: a Friend or an Enemy?

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The clock alarms you that it is midnight and your neurons start firing to tell you: it is bedtime and you are not done working yet. Definitely, you are willing to accept any help to stay awake in a time like this. The most widely used drug that we consume without feeling guilty is coffee, which is rich in caffeine. Caffeine is able to shut down adenosine molecules that cause sleepiness.

How coffee works

A way to visualize this is to imagine a key and its lock. When you put the key inside the lock, the door can open. In our bodies, we feel sleepy whenever adenosine binds to its receptors on neurons. Now imagine you that are locked out of your car with the keys still inside. You must come up with an alternative solution to unlock your car. This is what caffeine does in our bodies. Once caffeine reaches the brain, it blocks the adenosine receptors. Since caffeine is close enough in shape to adenosine, caffeine can bind to the receptor instead of adenosine. When caffeine binds to the receptor, the neurons turn the light on in your head and alter your body to become active and fully awake. The good thing about caffeine is that it makes us feel happy and positive by increasing the levels of dopamine, which is another important brain chemical that is responsible for promoting feelings of pleasure and excitement.

The problem with coffee

Overtime, you will feel sleepy even after consuming coffee, which will lead you to drink more coffee as one cup will not be enough. This is because adenosine can continue to function by sending signals to increase its receptors in order to power down the brain. This is the same reason as to why we have headaches or feel tired and depressed in the absence of caffeine as the amount of adenosine is increasing, therefore we need more caffeine to block this receptor in order to avoid these dark feelings.


Is coffee good?
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In 2015, a study showed that the risk of death can be reduced by 8-15% for coffee drinkers. Coffee consumption is also associated with reducing the risk of diseases such as heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Other studies showed that moderate coffee consumption has been linked with the reduction of many types of cancer such as liver cancer. The critical question is how much coffee is recommended to drink per day to get its benefits. There is no definite answer to this but consumption of less than five cups per day is recommended by most researchers.

One side effect of coffee consumption is that it can irritate the stomach because coffee is acidic. For this reason, it is not good to drink coffee on an empty stomach.  It is always healthier to drink water with your morning coffee because your body is dehydrated after sleeping and requires water rather than coffee since coffee can make the body more dehydrated.

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Having too much caffeine can result in many side effects such as, but not limited to, a high body temperature, anxiety and irritability, trembling hands as well as an energetic boost in energy followed by an even greater feeling of tiredness, dizziness and headaches. One cup of espresso or latte can have 105–110mg per 250mL of caffeine, while instant coffee can have 80–120mg per 250mL and black tea can have 65–105mg per 250mL.


Finally, the benefits and consequences of coffee consumption for our health is still under investigation and more studies about the ingredient of the coffee and its impact are still ongoing. Some studies have found that decaf and non-decaf coffee can have similar effects in altering the mind. Although there is still a debate about coffee, it is always a decent idea to trick your body and decrease the amount of coffee you drink from time to time in order to continue getting an effective result.


Arwa Alrehaili

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24 Responses to “Coffee: a Friend or an Enemy?”

  1. Arwa says:

    @Stefanie Thanks for your comment.
    I am like your sister somehow. My day won’t start without coffee and it is the first thing I do in the morning. Here is some reviews about the addictive of coffee.

  2. Stefanie Cyntia Sugianto says:

    Good post! You conveyed your points clearly and succinctly, and chose to inform about a topic immediately relevant to many people, especially here in Melbourne, a place I’ve heard called “the city of coffee”.

    While I myself am not much of a coffee drinker, most of my family members drink a cup in the morning daily. Although 1 cup is much less than the recommended cut off point of 5 cups you mentioned, I’ve witnessed first-hand its (rather scary) addictive effects. To wit, if my sister misses her morning shot of caffeine for even a few hours, she gets a pounding headache until she manages to snag some. For the same reason, I’ve been very careful about limiting my own coffee consumption. I’m wondering since you’ve delved quite deeply into this topic, do you know what research has been done on the addictive effects of coffee?

  3. Arwa says:

    @cmasaeli thank you for reading my blog. I think most of us reach the overdose limit of coffee science there are a lot of responsibilities that we want to get done and at the same time to enjoy life and won’t miss anything.

  4. Arwa says:

    @Madeleine Hedin, I am happy that you liked my blog and found it useful.
    Sorry to hear about your health problem and sure your body will thank you for taking good care of it 🙂

  5. Arwa says:

    @yiqiaoh. Thank you for your comment and for sharing your experience.
    Try to reduce the amount of your coffee to get an effective result. That’s what I do time to time 🙂

    Take good care of yourself.

  6. Arwa says:

    @Nuoyan QI. Thank you for your great comment. Glad you liked my blog. I appreciate it.

  7. Arwa says:

    Thank you for your comment, Kate.
    It is good to know some of Italy’s cultures. Smart people 🙂

  8. Arwa says:

    @YINGCHEN Thanks for your comment.
    It is really a good idea to drink water and have breakfast then coffee. I started doing this for a few months now.

    Take care for yourself 🙂

  9. Arwa says:

    Jack Phang Thank you for your comment.

    I am not sure how much caffeine is considered an overdose. Since there is no definite answer to how much coffee is recommended to drink per day to get its benefits, I think it depends on the person.

  10. Arwa says:

    I am happy that you jumped in and read my blog and thank you!
    Well! The ingredients of the coffee and its impact are still ongoing.
    I am not sure if tea changes the brain as coffee does, but since tea has caffeine on it, it may play role in the mind, in my opinion.

  11. Arwa says:

    @ccram Thank you for your comment.
    Well! I think that coffee companies control the caffeine amount in instant coffee. For example, Nescafe has a different degree of coffee”strong, super strong, etc”. The reason for this, in my opinion, to provide costumers with a wide range of options and satisfy people’s tastes. Some people like to have strong caffeine in their coffee and other people like less caffeine in their coffee.

  12. cmasaeli says:

    I really enjoyed this post. As an avid coffee drinker, this really caught my eye and it was nice to see the limitations of drinking coffee. I like your suggestions, I know I’ve definitely been one to overdose on coffee so I’ll keep them in mind from now on!

  13. Arwa says:

    Thanks for reading my topic.
    Take good care of yourself 🙂

  14. Arwa says:

    I am glad you liked the article and you found it understandable.
    Thank you for your lovely comment.

  15. jherring says:

    Very interesting and relevant for university students! I really liked your description of how coffee works, the key & lock model is an easy way for those with not much of a biology background to understand the process.

  16. jungs1 says:

    I feel the pros and cons of coffee myself everyday ! it was an interesting read and thank you for reminding the goods and bad

  17. ccram says:

    This is a great explanation of the way caffeine can affect our brains! One thing that surprised me was that you stated instant coffee has a wider range of caffeine in it than espresso coffee- it’s so interesting that it can contain both less and more caffeine! Is there any particular reason for this? And do you think coffee companies purposely control the caffeine amount in instant coffee to be lower or higher for any particular reasons?

  18. yww6 says:

    It is something that a coffee person would jump in and have a look. It is mind open for me, because I haven’t thought about how things work when a cup of coffee get into my stomach. I just noticed the results of the coffee got for my body instead of the way of it doing its job.

    Meanwhile, when it said some studies argued that coffee can change the mind, it leads me to think about is it the other chemical substance within the coffee or the caffeine caused that; also does tea change the mind is a question to wonder.

  19. Jack Phang says:

    This is an interesting read! You had listed down the amount of caffeine in different coffee type, and I am wondering at which amount of caffeine would it consider being an overdose?

  20. YINGCHEN says:

    I often drink a cup of coffee in the morning for refreshing, but after reading your article, I found that coffee can make people dehydrated. Later in the morning, I will drink a cup of warm water and supplement food, and then coffee.

  21. Good to know that coffee is good for you (in moderation)!
    And interesting that you should drink it with water – in Italy they always serve you coffee with a small glass of mineral water and now I know why!

  22. Nuoyan QI says:

    Hi Arwa, this is an interesting blog. The title is attractive to readers and the overall structure of this blog is clear as you used subheadings to break it into several sections. I also like the beginning the this blog very much. It describes a situation that has a close connection with everyone’s life, which makes the article intriguing. I also enjoy some metaphors you used. This makes the content easy to understand and interesting. You also explained some jargons to readers(dopamine) to avoid difficulties readers may encounter. Great work!

  23. yiqiaoh says:

    Hi Arwa. That is an such interesting post with an attractive headline, I really enjoy reading it. I will keep your suggestion ‘try not to drink coffee overdose’ in mind, because I always drink coffee overdose, especially during the exam period and uni final weeks. Combine with my coffee drink experience, the reason why I always drink coffee overdose is, I think one cup of coffee doesn’t work. The more I drink, the more obvious effects I could see.
    As well, for me refreshing brain by drinking coffee is mainly the psychological effect, which greater than the function of caffeine itself.

  24. Madeleine Hedin says:

    Hi Arwa, thank you for this informative post, I am sure it is helpful for many of us to understand more of the details on benefits and limitations of drinking coffee. After many years of drinking lots of coffee every day, I have recently, for health reasons decided to try and stop drinking it. It is really crazy to notice how addictive it has become, there are some really clear withdrawal symptoms! But it is great to read this story and to know that my body will thank me for drinking less coffee 🙂