So is coffee healthy or not?

brain health healthy eating healthy recipes resilience stress-free sugarfree May 20, 2023

I love the smell of freshly ground coffee! 

Although I know not everyone does.

Do you have a morning coffee habit? One that actually continues on later into the afternoon?

Maybe you’ve heard so many conflicting reports, you’re not sure if it’s really a healthy habit or not.

Here are some of the things to consider before you decide if it’s a good idea for you or not.

And make sure to keep reading for a tasty latte recipe that’s coffee-shop worthy and healthy to boot!

So much confusion!

“Coffee is healthy.”

“Coffee isn’t healthy.”

 “Drink it.”  “Avoid it.”

Why all the confusion?

If you want to know whether you should drink coffee or avoid it, today’s post is for you. Here’s the thing: every body (everybody!) is different, so coffee affects each of us differently. It definitely has some health benefits, but there are some people who are better off avoiding it.

So what should you consider before your next cup?

Who can drink coffee and who should avoid it?

Coffee is one of those things - for those who do indulge, we all have our favourite way to enjoy it: black or double-double; espresso or latte;  sweet or more bitter; decaf, half-caf or regular.

And yet others would just prefer a cup of tea!

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It's a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you're used to drinking.


Coffee does not just contain caffeine, although it is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. But a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine but it still contains some.

Keep reading for a deeper look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Plus I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.

Caffeine metabolism

Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.

About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel "wired" for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is "fast" metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason the headlines about coffee contradict each other so much - because we’re all different!

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.

Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):

  • Stimulates the brain
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Boosts energy and exercise performance
  • Increases your stress hormone cortisol
  • Dehydrates

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not. 

Coffee and health risks

There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.

Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

  • Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
  • Increased sleep disruption
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
  • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of certain liver diseases
  • Lower risk of death (all cause mortality")
  • Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.

So should you drink coffee or not?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.

Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

  • People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
  • People who often feel anxious
  • People who have trouble sleeping
  • People who are pregnant
  • Children and teens.

If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

  • Give you the jitters?
  • Increase anxious feelings?
  • Affect your sleep?
  • Give you heart palpitations?
  • Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
  • Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?

Other things to consider

  • Have a firm cut-off time each day, so it won’t disturb your sleep.  For me it’s definitely no later than noon.
  • Try a “half-caf” coffee instead, you may not notice a difference in flavour, and yet your body will appreciate it!
  • If your body is telling you that you’re drinking too much, start to reduce the number of cups each day.
  • Maybe even consider eliminating it for a while and see how that makes your body feel.  But if you do, make sure you wean yourself off to avoid withdrawal headaches!  Since I usually grind my own beans, I start to add in more and more decaf beans, reducing the regular ones, until all that I have is decaf.  And then I can just let that go.
  • If you believe you can’t possibly start your day without a coffee to wake you up, maybe you aren’t getting enough sleep!  So consider going to bed earlier – even 30 minutes each night can make a difference.


Recipe ~ Pumpkin Spice Latte

Serves 1

  • 3 tbsp full fat coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)


  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy.
  • Serve & enjoy!




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