Coffee Benefits, where to start? 

Over the years there has been an immense amount of data collected from hugely varying studies into the pros and cons of coffee, particularly where health is concerned. But health isn’t the only the only area we should be looking at.

Over the millennia, coffee has been a close companion to humanity. Its historical roots can be traced back thousands of years, as can its impact on culture and trade around the globe.

So to us at CoffeeMad, while much of the benefit we’d like to explore is associated with health and experience, we can’t ignore the other defining marks coffee has imprinted on humanity. To help in our quest to explore and understand coffee’s benefits, we have broken the benefit areas down in to four definable areas. Mood, health, societal and commerce.

Yes – we have put mood in it’s own class! It’s an odd area to single out, as we could include it in the health section. We feel though, that coffee and its relationship to human mood transcends the issues of health.


If you derived no other health benefit from coffee, the simple, delightful impact that the aroma and taste coffee has on one’s mood is difficult to express in mere words – it requires body language.

From the impact on your sense of that first tantalising whiff, to the full blown experience of the first sip of the day, your whole body goes through a range of expressions. Just watch somebody, who is passionate about coffee, take that first sip of the day. Watch they facial expression. Watch how they coddle the cup or favourite coffee mug. Watch for that ‘ahhhh’ moment. The watch as the caffeine begins to kick in and reality starts to intrude on the day. It really is like watching the sun rise in somebody.

coffee moodsYour choice of coffee may vary according to mood too. This is something we’d like to explore with you through the site. While many people have a firm favourite and don’t waver, others have recognised that the type and style of coffee can also play a part in matching or adjusting ones mood. For instance, on a cold wet day, when at home and relaxing, your choice may be entirely different to that where you’re with friends or colleagues discussing a new project or venture, or just as part of an exciting catch up. For the former, you might choose a darker, richer experience, whereas for the latter, a lighter more refreshing coffee experience.

And then, there’s the rest of the day too. For many, coffee plays a key part in creativity at work. For others, it’s a way to suppressing boredom. For others still, a way to counter that 2pm slump.

The problem we find is that generally, people don’t really understand the differences that they could explore and just how beneficial to their day the right choice could be. For instance, as most people to describe what they think is a strong caffeine laden coffee drink and you’ll likely get a description of a cup of coffee like an Espresso or something else dark and rich looking. The reality though is somewhat different. While darker roasted beans have a more intense flavour, it’s actually the lighter roasts that have more caffeine, because its the roasting process that burns off the caffeine. Light roasts can, for example, have 60% more caffeine than dark roasts. So, a light roast coffee drink, could be the perfect kick you need to help with a creative exercise, but which one would you choose?

The humble coffee bean has received a lot of positive press concerning a multitude of health benefits, not least, its antioxidant properties. It’s also received a fair amount of bad press and naturally has its fair share of detractors.

We want to present a balanced view and share both sides of the argument. However, and for reasons of transparency, we are big coffee fans and at the end of the day believe that in balance, the positives far  outlay the negatives, especially if you are mindful about your consumption. Quite often, much of the harm caused by a coffee drink, isn’t so much about the coffee  itself, it’s what’s put in the coffee drink.

As you’ll see, we have focused a lot of our attention on specific benefits to men and women, as each can benefit in different ways. 

There are a range of studies that we will highlight and draw reference too. These have been conducted over varying period between 10 and 20 years and by many different academic institutions, included esteemed universities such as Harvard. Overall, they paint a very positive picture of the impact of coffee on people’s health.

Here’s a basic list of the principle benefits coffee is believed and in some cases proven to deliver:

  1. Decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
  2. Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  3. A protective effect against neurodegenerative diseases
  4. A positive effect on liver function
  5. Protection against certain cancers

(The Emerging Health Benefits of Coffee with an Emphasis on Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease – Bidel & Tuomilehto 2013)

  1. Caffeine in coffee helps to increase brain activity by blocking adenosine and increasing the production of norepinephrine and dopamine.
  2. Improves ones mood, reaction time, vigilance and general cognitive function.
  3. Helps improve mental health
  4. Linked to a longer lifespan

Need any more to convince you?

Okay, so we said we’d be balanced in our view of coffee, so here are a number of the main risks associated with the bean. These are mostly associated with individual sensitivity to caffeine. 

  1. Increased heart rate – caffeine is a stimulant, actually one of the world longest standing psychoactive substances 
  2. Increased anxiety
  3. Over arousal
  4. Sleep disruption
  5. Gastrointestinal irritation
  6. Increased blood pressure
  7. Increased risk of miscarriage in pregnant women above 300mg of caffeine a day.

For most coffee drinkers, there’s little here to be concerned about. And, of course, if you are sensitive to the caffeine in coffee, guess what? There’s ‘decaf’ coffee. Much maligned, but undeservedly so, in our minds, as it still conveys many of the basic health benefits, because the key antioxidants in coffee are carried in the coffee’s natural oils, not in the caffeine.

Decaf, maybe a better choice for some anyway, because sensitivity to caffeine varies in people considerably. We have two genes to thank for that. The CYP1A2 and AHR genes play a part in people’s relationship with coffee. These are the gene that control how much caffeine is in the bloodstream. Some people can experience little impact from caffeine, while others can become a jittering wreck. We’ll look at the in more detail elsewhere eon the site.

If you ever had any doubt as to coffee’s impact on society, count how many ‘coffee shops’ there are on the high street. Now, how many ‘tea’ shops do you see?

Coffee has had a huge impact on society. We’re careful here not to spill over into the commercial or economic impact, as that’s a different issue. By societal, we mean the impact coffee has had in bring people together. Just think about the phrase so often heard in business, “Lets have a chat over coffee”. The next question is usually – “Sorry, you do drink coffee don’t you?” Even if the other person doesn’t, there’s always an alternative at the coffee flavour wheel

Why is it that coffee is seen more as a ‘morning drink’, whereas tea, for instance, is for the afternoon? There are ‘coffee mornings’ and ‘afternoon tea’. Much of this is history and culture, or in the case of coffee mornings, reality, as coffee provides that essential kick that so many people seem to need to boot them into cold light of day.

We believe that coffee has much more to offer and is taken for granted too often – poured into a paper cup without much more of a consideration than it’s what is needed to get going. Much in the same way as wine and spirits such as whisky have a generality about them, drunk without so often as a though as to what is behind them, coffee too has a ‘connoisseurs’aspect worthy of exploration.

Just as wine has the nuances of flavour, acidity, body, balance, sweetness, saltiness, finish, etc, so too has coffee. We’d argue that coffee has a similar dimension to be explored. This can be clearly seen in the various industry ‘coffee wheels’ used to explore and describe coffee’s many flavours.

Coffee plays a huge role in the economies of a range of countries in the so called ‘coffee belt’ (link to coffee belt page). With coffee being the second most traded commodity the world over, it’s easy to forget that for many smaller coffee growers, it’s their entire life and small changes on coffee commodity prices can have a big impact on them.

organic coffee industryThe coffee industry is under constant pressure; from a variety of sources, including international pricing, environmental pressures, and end user demand. Price competition between supermarkets and other coffee outlets as high as ever, and so the pressure to remain competitive is passed down the chain and inevitably ends up becoming a problem for the individual coffee farmers.

The coffee industry understands the important role played by individual farmers and their right to a dignified and stable income. Without such, coffee production is under threat. There are numerous schemes underway to assist in improving the way of life for the smaller farmers, as well as getting a full account of the true cost of coffee.

One such initiative co-financed by the Dutch Government, called the Futureproof Coffee Collective, looks to embrace the principles of true pricing and cost accounting within the value chain. There are hidden costs to coffee too, namely environmental and social. To that end the group has chosen 5 indicators to help in establishing a more realistic benchmark for the true cost of coffee production. These are:

  • Living income gap
  • Water use
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Soil Erosion
  • Carbon emission

This method looks to compare the differences between conventional coffee farming and newer, more organic methods.

Like other food farming methods around the globe, the impact coffee growers have is no different. At Coffee Mad, we are interested in the programs in place to ensure the long term sustainability of coffee production in harmony with the needs of the growers and the planet.

Sustainable, organic coffee production, is an approach coffee farmers can take. It’s a win-win. As a relatively niche product in the coffee industry at large, organic coffee is a premium product. Naturally, the end rewards for the coffee farmer are higher as indeed they are for the environment.