Many a rumour has been spread about our beloved bean, with the non-drinker the likely source of such hearsay! Over the years, scientific papers, health professionals and the coffee industry have argued the various claims that the effects of coffee and caffeine on our health, through to how best to get the most from our daily brew for maximum effect. So I felt it would be a useful exercise to dig a little deeper and find out the fact from the fiction.
These are the myths about drinking coffee you need to stop believing in, when it comes to your favourite life booster. FACT!
1 - Coffee Causes Insomnia
Caffeine after being consumed is processed through the liver and almost half of it may be flushed out of the body within 4-5 hours and in another 5 hours almost 75% of it is eliminated out of the body. You should not face problems getting sleep due to caffeine if you just consume 2-3 cups of coffee on a daily basis. Just don't drink it in bed...
2 - Coffee Causes Dehydration
Whilst any drink other than pure H20 isn't going to hydrate you as well, coffee is known to have a mild diuretic effect, yet doesn't increase the risk of dehydration. Some studies have even shown that coffee has the same hydrating effect as water. If I was handed a coffee in the desert, I'd gulp it down!
3 - Coffee Will Sober You Up
Remember the scene in Back To The Future Part 3 when Marty suggests black coffee to sober up Doc before they head to the DeLorean? The bartender then rubbishes the idea and instead plumps for 'wake-up juice'. And he was right. Coffee sadly cannot magically remove the alcohol in your bloodstream and sober you up. A study by Temple University in Philadelphia that appears in the journal Behavioural Neuroscience provides the evidence on this. However, coffee can affect your drunken state by tricking your mind into thinking you're closer to sobriety. The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, which can make you feel like you're ready to handle activities you wouldn't attempt drunk. Good thing or bad thing, you decide!
4 - Coffee Should Be Stored in the Fridge
Somewhere, somehow a rumour started that keeping your beans in the fridge will make them last longer. Not so. They will absorb all the lovely things in your fridge like that fishy smell. Storing beans in an air-tight container or sealable bag at room temperature will keep them fresh till brewed. Thankfully the National Coffee Association of America have good guidelines on bean storage.
5 - You Can't Burn Coffee with Hot Water
Water that's just boiled and used to brew coffee will cause the water to to extract some of the bitter oils from coffee and might even scorch them. Water temperature varies slightly on your brew method but it's best to wait 30 seconds after boiling to use water between 91 C (195 F) and 96 C (205 F). Otherwise you'll get a slightly nasty tasting cup.
6 - Coffee Fixes Constipation
Maybe slightly less openly debated this one... It's true that the caffeine can stimulate the muscles in your digestive system to contract, causing a bowel movement. But because caffeine is dehydrating, it's not recommended. So if you’re constipated, there's not going to be any cure downing coffee.
7 - Espresso Has More Caffeine Than A Cup of Coffee
Coffee Chemistry states if you’re comparing a shot of espresso to an average cup of coffee (about 8 oz. according to the National Coffee Association), this has somewhere between 65-140 mg of caffeine (an average of 92.5 mg), and a typical 1 oz. espresso shot has somewhere between 30-50 mg (an average of 40 mg). So you could say a serving of coffee has 2.3x as much caffeine as a serving of espresso on average.
However, if you were to compare them by volume, coffee only has 8-15 mg of caffeine per ounce, and espresso has 40 mg per ounce on average. The perceived notion that espresso has more caffeine than regular coffee probably stems from the fact that espresso has a much darker roast, and there’s an assumption that the bolder taste of a darker roast which has higher caffeine levels that's is also untrue.
8 - Coffee Doesn't Help You Focus
Research has shown that caffeine in coffee can affect the areas of the brain responsible for memory and concentration. In a 2005 at the Medical University at Innsbruck, Austria, MRI scans showed that caffeine increased activity of the anterior cingulate and the anterior cingulate gyrus in the prefrontal lobe of the brain. These areas are involved in planning, attention, monitoring and concentration, and although caffeine has been shown to stimulate concentration, there is inconclusive evidence of how long this effect lasts or precisely how it varies in individuals.
9 - Coffee Helps You Lose Weight
This is a hotly debated, contentious issue. And it depends on your interpretation of 'losing weight'. What coffee isn't is a silver-bullet which will take you from 20 stone down to 10. However, the caffeine in coffee does boost your metabolism (causing your body to free fatty acids into the bloodstream, as it breaks down your fat stores to convert it into energy), and also give you an energy boost (helping to improve performance of physical tasks such as running or lifting weights). Also, coffee causes a brief suppression of appetite which can help if you're a bit of a snacker between meals.
10 - Learning Latte Art Will Make You Cooler
Nope sorry! Leave it to the pros.