When one mentions German coffee they’re typically referring to one of two things. Either (A) the cocktail drink known as “German Coffee”, or (B) coffee in and from Germany itself. We’ll get to (A) in a minute but first, let’s talk about coffee from Germany in general.
Coffee in Germany is a unique beast. According to anyone who lives there, the local coffee isn’t anything special – They tend to import the same brands as seen through-out the United States and Europe, and even their locally-produced brands are roasted and served about the same as coffee anywhere else in the world.
So what makes German coffee so special? A lot of it simply has to do with the local love of the stuff. Over 75% of the entire German population over the age of 15 drinks coffee more than once per month, and coffee is consumed on average by Germans more than water or even beer! To say Germany loves its coffee would be an understatement; here’s a few fun facts about Germany’s relationship to coffee you might not have known.
If you’ve ever plugged in an electric coffee machine for your morning fix? You have a German to thank for that – Two of them, in fact.
First, Mrs. Bentz was a woman on the search for a good cup of coffee and kept coming up short. After experimenting with a number of different methods and finding all of them lacking she had an idea – Her son’s school blotting paper. A few pots of grounds-free, perfectly brewed coffee later and it was on to the patent office in 1908.
Needless to say it didn’t take long for the concept to catch on, and after just twenty years the “M. Bentz” company was ready to move to an upgraded facility in what is now North Rhine-Westphalia, where it remains to this day. So every time you’ve slapped a paper filter into your favorite electric coffee pot? You have Melitta Bentz to thank for that. And – surprise twist! – for the coffee pot itself you have yet another German to thank!
That’s right, the world’s very first electric drip-style coffee maker was created and patented in Germany, where it was known as “the Wigomat“. Inventor Gottlob Widmann was someone else tired of bitter, over-brewed coffee, and his vision of making sure he could get a perfect cup focused on one key component of the brewing process: Temperature.
Prior to Widmann’s invention most coffee was brewed via use of percolators, vacuum brewers, or just good old-fashioned steeping of grounds in boiling water. The electronic drip coffee machine was designed with a thermostat as a central element ensuring for the first time that coffee would reach the right temperature and not overheat – Culprit number one when it comes to bitterness in a cup of joe.
Between Bentz and Widmann it’s safe to say that even though coffee doesn’t grow in Germany their contributions to coffee science absolutely changed the beverage world as we know it. There’s one more German who’s important to mention when it comes to coffee too, but we’ve been saving this one for last because it might be… contentious.
Decaf? Yep, that’s Germany too. Specifically the merchant Ludwig Roselius who, having accidentally had a shipment of coffee beans end up soaked in the local sea water, decided he wasn’t going to take the loss and tried brewing some up anyway. Turned out that the resulting coffee was just about as tasty as the original variety but without all those pesky jitters and thus decaffeinated coffee was born. Much to the chagrin of some.
Small side note: The original decaffeination process used the chemical benzene to help strip away the caffeine at the end. Benzene, as we now know, is an incredibly toxic carcinogen, increasing the risk of both cancer and bone marrow failure. So…. y’know. Glad we moved on from that method.
You’re out and about in Germany on a random day and you see a sign: “Kaffee”. You’ve just found an establishment that serves coffee. But what type of establishment can greatly change your experience.
If you’re looking for your traditional style of cafe you’ll find those labeled as such, though you might be a bit surprised when you find patrons not just enjoying coffee or tea but also beer and sometimes even other alcohols. Having a beer casually during the day is a routine part of life throughout much of Europe and the Germans are quite happy taking on that tradition. But just because there’s beer don’t expect a rowdy crowd – Though some cafes can turn into more bar-like establishments during the evening the day crowd is (usually) exactly what you’d expect from your average, more low-key cafe dwellers.
Your average cafe will have a wide array of drinks available to suit just about any tastes, and the best part? The menu should look pretty familiar. Most items use their usual Italian names (like cappuccinos or macchiatos), and the rest are usually pretty easy to figure out with a little lateral thinking. Just remember: If you want a cup of plain black coffee you’re looking for a “schwarzkaffee” (literally “Blackcoffee”) and if you’re looking for a cup with cream that’s a “milchkaffe” (literally “Milkcoffee”).
If the “Kaffee” sign you’re seeing is next to another sign that says “Bäckerei” then you’ve found yourself a bakery, and you might want to head inside. Bakeries are a staple of life in Germany, and a great place to grab a quick bite to eat through-out the day. Your average bäckerei might not have the wide selection of coffee products a traditional cafe would but a good cup of schwarzkaffee should be easy to find and cheaper than at said “traditional” establishments. Sitting down with a mug of coffee and a pastry (we recommend the franzbrötchen, a croissant-esque treat usually filled with cinnamon and sugar) and watching the world go by for a few minutes is always an excellent way to destress.
No matter where you are, though, there’s one simple phrase that should get you what you’re looking for. “Einen kaffee, bitte”, or literally translated “One coffee, please”. And don’t be afraid of the pronunciation; phonetically you’re looking to say something akin to “Eye-nin coffee, bit-uh”. If you mess it up a bit that’s ok – English is spoken frequently through-out Germany, and most locals will just be happy you at least gave it a go.
PS: Don’t worry too much about tipping. Most people won’t get angry if you leave them a small tip but in Germany and through-out most of Europe they’ve long since abandoned the practice of tipping in favor of paying their workers a fair wage, meaning (unlike in America) your server isn’t dependent on your tip to survive. Tip if you’d like but just know it isn’t expected or necessary.
Now, if you’re looking for a drink called a “German Coffee” we have some interesting news for you….
Turns out the drink called “German Coffee”? Surprise – Looks like it’s an American creation. Though the actual invention of this cocktail recipe is lost to the annals of time we do know that it’s been referenced as far back as the Savoy Cocktail Book first published in 1930. And while it may not be the first application one thinks of when it comes to coffee, it may darn well be the tastiest. The classic recipe as per Savoy goes as follows:
* 1 egg white
* .5 tbsp sugar
* 1 oz Kirsch
* 1 small glass cold coffee
Instructions are simple: Add ingredients and then shake to achieve the frothy white. But there’s one thing there you might not be familiar with – Kirsch.
Kirsch, also known as Kirschwasser or Cherry Eau de Vie, is a cherry-based brandy, popular for use in both mixed drinks and desserts in Germany and the surrounding regions. If you plan on making this drink be warned – A lot of the “kirsch” sold in the United States is cheap, artificially flavored cherry spirits, not actual Kirsch. These products usually taste nothing like the real thing so if you’re interested in checking out this cocktail (and we highly recommend you do) it’s worth making sure you’re picking up the real deal. Ask your local wine & spirits seller for their recommendation, and always check the label on the back of the bottle.
We hope you’ve learned a few things about Germany, it’s coffee, and it’s people’s love for their favorite caffeinated beverage. And if you’re looking to make a German Coffee cocktail the recipe above should be a great starting point on your coffee cocktail journey. Next time you’re ever in Berlin? Don’t be afraid about getting your fix – Just remember “einen kaffee, bitte” and once you’ve got that fresh cup of coffee? Everything else should fall right into place. Enjoy!
If you drink as much coffee as we do, no doubt you deal with a lot of coffee grounds. While a lot of people dump their grounds down the drain (probably not a good idea) or in the trash, there are actually much better ways to dispose of even reuse your coffee grounds. Coffee grounds can be effective as cleaning scrubs, odor neutralizers, and even fertilizers. So before dump another grain down the drain, take a look at our suggested uses for coffee grounds.
First of all, if you dispose of your coffee grounds anywhere other than the compost bin, stop immediately. Coffee grounds can be horrible for your drain, causing clogging and erosion. The trash is a simple solution, but coffee grounds are compostable and even contribute to significantly to the decomposition process. If you use your compost for gardening or are looking for a good fertilizer, coffee grounds are a great source and nutrients and minerals for quality soil. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, composting your coffee grounds rather than sending them to the landfill is a super easy way to reduce your carbon footprint.
The texture of coffee grounds can act as an excellent exfoliant, and can be used in household cleaning or personal hygiene. The grains work really well as a scrub for dirty surfaces of any kind, such as dishes, bathtubs, and even your vehicle. You can simply add the ground to a soapy mix. Since they are organic materials, they are also perfectly safe to use as a beauty scrub. Adding coffee grounds to your face wash can give you an exfoliated glow, and hey - most people don’t complain about the smell of coffee. You can even use coffee grounds as an ingredient when making your own soap bars.
Because coffee is microscopically porous, this makes it a great odor neutralizer. Coffee is good at absorbing odors in small spaces, and is super easy to replace if you’re a regular coffee drinker. You can simply place a dish of coffee grounds in your fridge, on the counter, or near a litter box and let the coffee do its thing. This feature also makes it great as an additive to hand soaps. When you’re working with garlic or other smelly foods, adding some coffee grounds to your soap is a great way to neutralize that scent. Garlic is an incredibly stubborn odor when it makes contact with your skin, so coffee grounds make a fantastic defense to have on hand (literally).
There is a time and a place to embrace the coffee stain! For all its stubbornness, coffee makes a great natural dye on certain fabrics. If you want a quick solution to covering up a coffee stain, or have another project in mind, you can use coffee grounds to stain anything from clothing to paper. You can even use varying quantities of coffee grounds to get a deeper or lighter shade.
Coffee grounds can be used in a wide range of recipes from meat rubs to cookies. When you’re baking or cooking with coffee grounds, unused grounds are generally better since they will provide more flavour. Used coffee grounds can still work, but if you really want to capitalize on the coffee flavour, it’s best to go for unused grounds. Recipes are a great go-to for old or stale coffee grounds. They won’t make a great cup of coffee, but they still contain enough flavour and texture to work as a great rub or baking ingredient. Using coffee grounds in rubs both tenderizes and flavours any meat, from pork to steak. It also makes a delicious addition to cookies, brownies, muffins, and even granola. Even full beans can be used as a dessert garnish, or coated in chocolate for an easy, tasty, on-the-go caffeine buzz. So before you toss those old grounds or beans, do a little experimenting in the kitchen.
Coffee is an amazing plant, and you might be surprised at just how many uses there are for it beyond a good old fashioned coffee drink. You can reuse your coffee grounds for anything from baking to cleaning, and they even make an exceptional fertilizer in your garden. So if you want to reduce waste, or are simply curious about whether there is anything you can do with all those used coffee grounds, consider these easy recommendations. Take your coffee game to the next level and see what creative uses you can find for your coffee grounds. Let us know your creative uses for grounds in the comments below!
Coffee is a universally loved beverage, and one of the most consumed drinks world wide. It is delicious, versatile, affordable, and appealing for its stimulating properties. And unlike tobacco and alcohol, coffee can be enjoyed by almost anyone at any time. But is coffee actually good for you? Many studies have been done on the health risks and benefits of coffee, and the consensus in the medical community seems to flip back and forth with every new study. The fact is, there is no concrete answer as to whether coffee is “good for you” or “bad for you.” The short and long term health effects of coffee can depend greatly on the individual and the quantity of coffee consumed. Everything from your genetics, to your diet, to the type of coffee you drink can change how coffee affects your personal health.
Let’s start with the positives. There is a reason coffee is one of the most widely produced and consumed beverages in the world. The entire coffee industry is worth billions of dollars, with more coffee styles and products being developed every day. One of coffee’s best attributes is its caffeine content. The caffeine in coffee is what gives it that stimulating effect. It can make you feel more alert, more energetic, and even somewhat elated. Coffee is a social drink with many mental health benefits. The routine, the creative process, the socialization and even the pure enjoyment of drinking coffee can have definitive cognitive benefits in the short and long term. The whole culture around coffee is an endearing and beneficial aspect of this timeless drink.
Of course, coffee comes with its down sides. There are many common side effects of coffee that have immediate and undesirable consequences on your body. One of the most common side effects is acid reflux. Coffee has a high acidity, and many people find that their acid reflux is significantly worsened by coffee. Coffee can also caused generalized stomach aches, especially in people prone to stomach related problems and heartburn. Coffee is also the perfect example that you can have too much of a good thing. Too much can over stimulate you and make you feel queasy, shakey, clammy, and cause problems sleeping. Many people need to limit their coffee intake or avoid coffee after a certain hour because of their high sensitivity to caffeine. Coffee can also contribute to dehydration. Compounds in coffee - including decaf - prevent your liver from properly absorbing fluids, which eventually leads to increased urination and difficulty hydrating. This can be especially bad when you’re trying to use coffee to nurse a hangover. Finally, coffee can also affect your bowels. Many people experience “coffee poops,” which are not well understood. All we know is that compounds in coffee react with your gut in complex ways, often leading to bowel movements or general discomfort. Nonetheless, these short term side effects are rarely enough to stop people from enjoying their favourite morning beverage.
So what about the long term side effects? You may have encountered inflammatory headlines about coffee causing cancers, heart problems, and other horrifying health problems. Some studies have shown connections between heart disease, various types of cancer, and stunted growth. However, these findings often overlook other bad habits and high risk behaviours commonly associated with high coffee consumption - such as smoking, stress, alcohol, and physical inactivity. All of these factors are likely much greater factors in these health risks than coffee alone. So while coffee may play a role in increasing the risk of these health issues in some individuals, it shouldn’t be cause for alarm.
In fact, other studies have shown coffee to possess many health benefits. Coffee may help protect against Parkinsons, Type 2 Diabetes, liver disease, and even help with cognitive functions and mental health. Coffee is a complex substance and it is very difficult to specify exactly how its components react with our bodies. It appears that coffee’s role in our health is secondary to things like our genetics, diet, history, and even how we drink our coffee. A smoker with a history of heart problems will be much more affected by high coffee consumption than a healthier individual. Drinking a few cups of drip coffee per day is much healthier than drinking sugary espresso drinks like flavoured lattes, and the long term health risks may have more to do with fat and sugar content than the coffee itself. This doesn’t mean that you need to cut your favourite coffee drinks out of your diet completely. As with any vice, the best way to approach your coffee intake is in moderation. Understanding you health history and how coffee affects you personally is the best way to predict what advantages or risks it might pose to your health. And while you research, you might as well enjoy a cup of coffee.
We all know that there are do’s and don’ts of what you put in your body while you’re sick. Dairy is a no because it’s hard to digest, chicken soup is a yes because it’s comforting and easy on the stomach. And of course, drinking as many fluids is possible is the best way to help your body fight whatever battle it’s trying to fight. That being said, not all fluids are productive to drink when you’re sick. You might be thinking “if herbal tea is good while you’re sick, coffee must be fine.” Unfortunately, while coffee isn’t the worst thing you can drink on a cold, it’s definitely not going to help. So on the spectrum of herbal tea (yes) to margaritas (no), where does coffee stand?
Generally speaking, you can drink coffee while you’re sick. If you’re well enough to crawl out of bed and brew a hot pot of joe, you won’t be writing a death certificate by enjoying a mug or two. That being said, coffee is not the best choice if you’re trying to maximize your body’s recovery efforts. There are a number of reasons it’s probably best to avoid drinking coffee while you’re sick.
For starters, coffee will prevent you from properly hydrating. Contrary to popular belief, coffee is not actually a diuretic in the same way that alcohol is. It doesn’t actively cause you to flush fluids from your system. What it does is prevents your kidneys from properly absorbing the fluids you drink. Eventually, your body will start to flush out more fluids than it’s absorbing. If you’re already dehydrated, you’ll notice more frequent urination and it will be much more difficult to rehydrate. So if you’re already dehydrated (which you almost certainly will be if you’re ill), coffee will make it significantly harder to get and stay hydrated. Seeing as hydration is one of the key factors in getting healthy fast, you might be better off avoiding that coffee.
On the plus side, coffee can give you a nice jolt of energy, which can feel pretty good when you’re bogged-down by illness. The problem here is that all those ache, pain and fatigue symptoms are there for a reason. They are your body’s way of saying “slow down, go to bed, I need to focus on fighting this sickness.” When you take medication and other stimulants, you are only addressing the symptoms, not the underlying problem. And in most cases, sacrificing the rest your body desperately needs results in longer recovery times. So if you have a minor cold and your cup of coffee helps you cope with the day, it’s not the end of the world. But if you want to recover quickly or are suffering from something a little more serious, probably best to wait it out.Plus, your coffee will taste that much better after you’ve been on an illness-induced hiatus.
If you do decide that your coffee craving overrides your desire for a fast and efficient recovery period, by all means indulge. But you might be surprised what a difference it makes when you opt for rest, relaxation, and proper fluids. Despite the health risks, many people continue to attend work and go about their daily lives when they have a minor cold because the symptoms may not feel severe enough to warrant time off. Get up, go to work, drink that cup of coffee - how big a difference can it really make? It may not feel like a big difference, but you can end up extending your illness for two or three times as long, as well as increasing the risk of spreading it to others.
Some studies have also shown that coffee can slow the immune system’s ability to fend off and fight illness, though these processes are not well understood. The chemical makeup of coffee is highly complex, and its interactions with our bodies are complicated, so it’s difficult to pinpoint how exactly coffee is interacting with your body while you’re sick. Coffee’s acidic properties can also make things worse. While it might not directly affect your cold, it will prolong recovery and potentially add to your discomfort, especially if you are prone to coffee-induced heartburn or other common side effects. If you must have a coffee, decaf (lower caffeine) or cold brew (lower acidity) are a little friendlier to the system, but in general, you will feel better and recover faster if you avoid it altogether.
Pregnancy comes with a lot of dietary sacrifices, some more difficult than others to stick to. If you’re the kind of person who needs their coffee during the day, you might be worried about adding it to your list of pregnancy no-nos. A quick disclaimer: we have only summarized current research and by no means are providing medical advice here. Anything you choose to do after reading is at your own risk!
From the research we've done though, it looks like you potentially don’t have to give up coffee entirely. Research on how coffee affects pregnancy is still somewhat limited, but consuming small amounts of coffee should be perfectly safe. One of the primary concerns regarding coffee consumption during pregnancy is the caffeine intake. The general consensus is to limit your caffeine intake to about 200 mg/day. Beyond that, how coffee affects your body while pregnant can vary greatly from person to person.
So why is it that you need to limit your caffeine intake during pregnancy? There are a number of reasons this is a good idea. For starters, we don’t fully understand how caffeine affects a fetus. We know that consuming less than 200 mg/day of caffeine shouldn’t harm your baby, but there isn’t enough research on long and short term effects of excessive caffeine consumption. This doesn’t mean you need to panic if you’ve been a little overzealous with your coffee in the morning. Simply start reducing your caffeine intake, and if you’re really concerned, talk to a healthcare professional. Every person and every pregnancy is different, and you doctor will always be the best source of information.
Much of the research on how coffee effects pregnancies is inconclusive. This doesn’t mean that the studies themselves have failed to reveal useful information, but simply that science has yet to demonstrate clearly that coffee has any direct, serious effects on a woman or baby during pregnancy. In other words, consuming coffee in reasonable doses does not appear to be a bad thing. What we do know is that caffeine can permeate the placental barrier, meaning that the caffeine in your blood stream can flow through the placenta to your baby. Generally speaking, even higher consumption rates of caffeine don’t appear to have any serious adverse effects on pregnancy. Because coffee and its components are so complex, and its interaction with our bodies so complicated, doctors nonetheless recommend limited caffeine intake as a precaution.
It’s also important to remember that coffee isn’t the only common source of caffeine. Teas, ice cream, chocolate, energy drinks and sodas all contain caffeine. Even decaffeinated coffee can have up to 15 mg of caffeine in it. So if you want to keep your caffeine intake strict, you’ll have to take more than coffee into consideration. This is especially true if you find that your sensitivity to caffeine is increased during pregnancy, a common side effect that may have to do with hormones slowing the rate at which your body metabolizes caffeine. With the exception of allergies or other individual intolerances to caffeinated foodstuffs, they are mostly safe to consume during pregnancy. But because of how differently your pregnant body can react to things - sudden cravings for food you never liked before, bad reactions to food you used to love - it’s always good to proceed with caution and pay attention to how different things make you feel. Accidentally over indulging on caffeine can lead to discomfort, increased heart rate, and other symptoms that you’ll want to avoid. While often harmless, an increased heart rate and blood pressure should be avoided during pregnancy. Depending on the severity and cause, they can lead to serious complications. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your symptoms and keep your doctor informed on any changes in reactions to your diet. It’s the best way to continue to enjoy the coffee you love without putting your health and baby at risk.
Beyond any health risks, you might simply find that coffee causes excessive discomfort during pregnancy. Common side effects of drinking coffee include difficulty hydrating, frequent urination, and heartburn. While not everyone experiences these side effects, you might find that they worsen or even occur for the first time after you become pregnant. While these side effects on their own are minor, you may decide that your cup of coffee just isn’t worth the extra discomfort. Pregnancy is hard enough!
As long as you limit your caffeine intake and pay attention to how your body responds to coffee during pregnancy, there is nothing wrong with indulging in the occasional java. You might find that you react differently to coffee during your pregnancy through higher sensitivity to caffeine, heartburn, or dehydration. While you don’t need to give up on coffee entirely, reducing you coffee intake is a good way to avoid these symptoms, and limiting your caffeine intake altogether is recommended.
Coffee is one of the world’s favourite morning drinks. Known for its stimulating properties, it may come as a surprise when you find that your coffee actually makes you more tired. Feeling tired after coffee is not all that uncommon, and there are a number of reasons why this might happen. Coffee interacts with your brain chemistry in a variety of ways, some of which can lead to fatigue rather than alertness, especially if you habitually drink high quantities of caffeine. Whether or not you experience post-coffee drowsiness can be hard to predict. Factors such as caffeine intake, the sugar quantity in your drink, the speed at which you metabolize coffee, and even dehydration can all play a role in coffee making you feel sleepy rather than buzzed.
One reason coffee might make you feel tired has to do with a brain chemical called adenosine. Adenosine is neurotransmitter that acts as a depressant. It promotes sleepiness and suppresses arousal in your brain. When you are awake, your brain begins producing more adenosine. Once levels become high enough, adenosine starts to suppress wakefulness and make you feel tired. It is believed to be one of the reasons people start to feel sleepier and sleepier the longer they stay awake. Caffeine keeps you awake by binding to adenosine receptors and preventing them from inducing sleepiness.
This is one reason drinking coffee late at night might prevent you from falling asleep, but not have as strong of a stimulating effect as it does in the morning. So how does the relationship between caffeine and adenosine lead to sleepiness? If you chronically drink high levels of caffeine, your brain might start to produce higher levels of adenosine earlier on in the day in order to compensate. Since high levels of adenosine leads to sleepiness, you might feel a wave of exhaustion once the caffeine wears off. If you metabolize caffeine quickly, you’ll feel this adenosine-induced sleepiness even faster.
There is another way in which a high caffeine tolerance can lead to sleepiness. Do you remember the first coffee you ever drank? The effects of caffeine were probably much more noticeable than after years of regular coffee drinking. If your caffeine consumption drastically increases and you gain a tolerance, you might not notice the stimulating effects as much. So even if the caffeine is not actively making you feel sleepy, it might seem that way simply because you’re not getting the caffeine kick that you’re used to.
One of the more simple explanations to feeling tired after coffee is that you might just metabolize caffeine faster than most people. You may feel a coffee rush quickly after drinking it, but notice that it only lasts a short period of time - sometimes as little as 10-15 minutes. In contrast to the immediate jolt of energy, this crash can feel as though your coffee has made you more tired than alert. Switching to lighter roasts (which normally have more caffeine) or drinking your coffee more slowly might help alleviate this impact. Just remember, increasing your caffeine intake will only work until your body starts to build a tolerance to the higher levels, eventually leaving you with the same effects as before.
Dehydration is another possible cause of coffee-induced sleepiness. Drinking a lot of coffee can lead to dehydration over time, and if you drink coffee while already dehydrated, you’ll feel these effects much sooner. Dehydration causes high blood sugar and low blood volume. Since your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body, you are using more energy which can make you feel tired. Sometimes the tiredness you get from dehydration is stronger than the stimulating effects of caffeine. Making sure you’re hydrating a bed time, or before you drink your coffee during the day, is a good way to combat dehydration-induced sleepiness.
There is another brain chemical that might be responsible for coffee making you tired. The neuropeptide orexin is found in the hypothalamus, and is responsible for numerous mental processes such as alertness and hunger. When orexin levels in the brain are high, you feel alert and lively. When orexin levels are low, you will feel less energetic and more drowsy. One of the most common causes of slowed orexin activity in the brain is sugar consumption. Putting sugar in your coffee or drinking sugary coffee drinks (such as flavoured lattes) can reduce orexin activity and lead to post-coffee drowsiness. Similarly, increasing your blood sugar can worsen the effects of dehydration, which as we know, can lead to feelings of drowsiness.
If you’re looking for a morning fix, there’s no better place to turn than a cup of coffee. But if you notice that your coffee is making you even drowsier than when you started brewing, it might be all in your head - specifically, in the regions where adenosine and orexin are produced. No, you’re not crazy. Brain chemistry, dehydration, personal coffee habits and even a fast metabolism can all lead to coffee-induced drowsiness.
Coffee has an abundance of appealing side effects; the stimulating buzz of caffeine pumping through your veins, the mental awe of experiencing its rich, complex flavours, the comfort of a hot mug clutched in your hands… but this beloved beverage also has its share of drawbacks, not the least of which is its ability to send you running to the washroom to urinate multiple times over the course of a single hour. A single cup of coffee can leave you wondering, “how did 16 oz of coffee lead to 9 trips to the toilet?” Indeed, why does coffee make you pee?
It may seem obvious - coffee is a fluid, you drink fluids, you pee them out. Yet it’s not quite that simple. More often than not, you urinate more frequently after drinking coffee than you would drinking other beverages like water, juice, or herbal teas. So why is that?
Coffee is full of a variety of acids, oils, and a multitude of chemical compounds. These constituents give it a full bodied flavour profile and stimulating effects, but also means that it can react with your body in other ways. We are all familiar with the positive ways in which its most popular component - caffeine - affects our bodies. Caffeine stimulates our brain, making us feel more alert, energetic, and sometimes even euphoric. But caffeine also affects the brain in less appealing ways. Caffeine is the component responsible for making you pee after drinking coffee.
So how does caffeine do this? In order to answer this question, we must first understand how our bodies absorb and expel fluids in the first place. This process takes place in the kidneys. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering fluids and maintaining the proper water/ mineral salt balance in your body. The kidneys absorb water through small proteins called aquaporins, which regulate the flow of water. When the kidneys need to absorb more water, as they should when you’re dehydrated, more aquaporins are released. The hormone responsible for inducing the production of aquaporins is called ADH (anti diuretic hormone). ADH is produced in the pituitary gland in your brain, and is then = released into the bloodstream where it flows to your kidneys. ADH gets its name for its anti diuretic properties - in other words, it tells the body not to release fluids in the form of urine. More ADH means more aquaporins and less urine. ADH is your body’s way of communicating to your kidneys that you need to retain water. So how does caffeine come in to play?
A lot of people understand coffee to be a diuretic, or something that makes your body produce a lot of urine. This is not exactly true. One of the effects of caffeine is that is inhibits the production of ADH in the pituitary gland. Since ADH is an anti diuretic, you might think of coffee less of a diuretic and more as an “anti-anti-diuretic.” So if you’re drinking a lot of coffee, your body is taking in a lot of fluids but not producing as much ADH to tell it to reabsorb these fluids. Thus your kidney produces fewer aquaporins and the fluids are flushed out of your system. In other words, you pee a lot!
Another reason it’s not totally accurate to categorize coffee as a diuretic is that diuretics are generally known to cause dehydration. If you’re dehydrated and start drinking a lot of coffee, you can certainly make your dehydration worse. But coffee in and of itself does not necessarily cause dehydration, especially if you’re drinking it in moderate amounts. In fact, recent studies have shown that moderate coffee drinking actually results in more fluid intake, or rehydration, than it does fluid loss. To reconcile that with how it affects your kidneys, think of it this way: while caffeine does inhibit the production of ADH, that doesn’t mean your kidneys aren’t absorbing any fluids at all. It just means that you will likely lose more fluids that you otherwise would if you were drinking non caffeinated beverages like juice. You will urinate more, but your net fluid intake can still be positive.
Another way of thinking about this is to compare it the effects of alcohol on your body, which is both dehydrating and a diuretic. Ethanol does has a similar effect on your brain as caffeine in that it inhibits the production of ADH. But ethanol simultaneously acts as a diuretic, flushing fluids out of your body at a much higher rate than normal. The more you drink, the more you’ll notice that your urine starts to become clearer. While this is sometimes considered a sign of being well hydrated, in the case of drinking alcohol it’s all bad news. At that point you’re peeing out nothing but water, on top of the fact that your body is being prevented by retaining any fluids. This is why even chugging a big glass of water before bed is not always enough to quell the incoming hangover, since the alcohol is still preventing your body from absorbing enough fluids to offset the loss.
So, in short, coffee makes you pee because the caffeine reduces your brain’s ability to tell your kidneys to absorb fluids. Since coffee is not simultaneously acting as a diuretic (like alcohol does), this doesn’t necessarily mean that all this urinating is making you dehydrated. As long as you keep your coffee drinking to moderate levels and make a note to replenish some of those fluids, you can jive on with the java. You may just have to make a few extra visits to the porcelain throne in the meantime!
You glance at your watch. Seeing that you’re late for work, you swig the last of your coffee, slip on your shoes and are about to run out the door when suddenly - it happens. You’re on a first date. Sitting in the coffee shop enjoying pleasantries and a double latte, you are in the middle of a great story when - it happens. Driving along the highway, singing along to the radio, you’ve got one hand on the steering wheel and one on your travel mug. With another sip of coffee and a brief harmonization with the chorus - it happens.
It is the sudden, unmistakable urge to poop. And not just any poop. A total evacuation of your bowels. The culprit? Your coffee. Why does coffee have this effect? How can it be that this most beloved and vital beverage should have such a strong, often inconvenient effect on your internals? Studies have found that upwards of 30% of coffee drinkers experience this colon-cleansing effect from coffee. Even for those who don’t feel the urge to visit the restroom, people still experience some distinct form of motor stimulation in their colon. While there are lots of theories, the truth is that we don’t really know for sure why this happens. But we can start by debunked some of the commonly held theories.
One popular theory is that caffeine is to blame. Proponents of this theory hold that since caffeine is a stimulant, these bowel movements are simply a response to that stimuli. Furthermore, caffeine is known to affect your gastrointestinal tract via its impact on your nervous system. The problem with this theory is that the timeline of caffeine’s effect on your digestive tract does not line up at all with the timeline from coffee to coffee-induced pooping. In addition, other caffeinated beverages do not have the same effect, whereas even decaffeinated coffee will cause this urge to defecate.
So if is the coffee, but not the caffeine in said coffee, what could it be? Some believe that these bowel movements are simply the result of coffee often being the first thing a person consumes in the morning, which is supported by the fact that many people say this effect is only felt in the morning. The idea is that the body is just waking up, your metabolism is jump started, and voila - it’s time to go. While this theory may hold some truth, it fails to explain why coffee specifically seems to have this effect. Many people who experience it have consumed other food or beverage before their coffee, and can attest to this distinctly strong and swift side effect.
One final theory has to do with the debate as to whether coffee is a diuretic, laxative, or somehow both. There is a widely held assumption that coffee dehydrates you. One reason is that coffee blocks the production of a hormone that allows you reabsorb water. But this doesn’t necessarily translate to dehydration from your morning coffee. Recent studies have suggested that in fact, moderate coffee drinking actually contributes positively to your body’s overall fluid intake more than it dehydrates you. Just as drinking water can increase your need to pee, so to can coffee. You can be left dehydrated you if you don’t replenish those fluids, but this property is not unique to coffee. Because of coffee’s relationship to many individual’s morning poop, coffee is also widely considered a laxative. But how can it be a laxative if it is a diuretic? The truth is that it may be neither. This brings us to the closest explanation we currently have as to why coffee affects so many bowels the way it does.
Coffee contains thousands of chemical compounds, and our digestive tracts are extremely complex and not very well understood. The potential interactions between coffee’s contents and their effects on your body through your digestive tract are countless. All we can say for sure is that coffee stimulates a multitude of hormonal and neural mechanisms in your body, only some of which are known. One contributing mechanism comes from the acids in coffee. The increased stomach acidity from drinking coffee can result in the production of gastrin and cholecystokinin hormones. In short, these hormones trigger things like acid production (which encourages intestinal movements), as well as stimulating your pancreas, gal bladder and hypothalamus (which, together, tell your brain it’s had enough to eat and stimulate other motor activities in your bowels).
In essence, coffee stimulates your colon the same way eating a 1,000 calorie meal would.
While this can certainly explain coffee’s ability to make you poop, there is probably a lot more going on than we currently understand. For example, women more susceptible than men, individuals with other intestinal or bowel problems tend to experience these effects more strongly, and many who experience it do not feel the same effects every time. Individuals with lactose or sugar intolerances might also be reacting to cream, milk or sugar additives rather than the coffee itself. So beyond the known chemical and biological effects of coffee on your bowels, there is a distinct possibility for unrelated factors being at play as well.
So what does this all mean? We know that it’s not the caffeine. We know it’s not as simple as triggering your metabolism, and we know that it’s more complicated than simply categorizing coffee as a laxative. The short answer to the question “why does coffee make me poop?” is that we don’t exactly know for sure. We do know that is has to do with the acids and compounds found in coffee stimulating hormonal and neural responses in your bowels. We also know that these responses vary from person to person and coffee to coffee. If you want to reduce these effects, give it a little trial and error. Try emptying the bowels before bed, mixing up your coffee drinking habits, testing out other possible culprits or - simply embrace the poop!
If you drink as much coffee as we do, no doubt you deal with a lot of coffee grounds. While a lot of people dump their grounds down the drain (probably not a good idea) or in the trash, there are actually much better ways to dispose of even reuse your coffee grounds. Coffee grounds can be effective as cleaning scrubs, odor neutralizers, and even fertilizers. So before dump another grain down the drain, take a look at our suggested uses for coffee grounds.
When you hear the term cold brew, you might think it refers to any form of cold coffee. In reality, cold brew and iced coffee are two very different things. Iced coffee is brewed hot and then refrigerated or poured over ice cubes. Cold brew is made by soaking coffee grounds in a small amount of room temperature water for 6-12 hours, resulting in a strong coffee concentrate that can be used to make cold coffee drinks. Starbucks has largely been credited for popularizing the drink, but the methods have been around a lot longer. Cold brew is popular for its easy drinking style, refreshing coldness, and strong flavour.
Given how much more effort cold brew takes compared to iced coffee, you might wonder whether the result is really worth it. The big advantage to cold brew is that it tastes better. With iced coffee, there will always be a sacrifice in flavour in the process of trying to quickly turn hot brewed coffee into a cold drink.
Refrigerating freshly brewed coffee takes a long time, and will taste stale by the time it’s ready. While it might be convenient for you to throw a pot of coffee in the fridge and have a nice cold java the next day, you’re getting the worst of both worlds with this method: time consuming and a subpar taste. Alternatively, adding ice cubes to hot coffee dilutes the flavour quickly as the ice cubes melt. It’s like adding tap water. Plus, this method often results in a “cool” drink rather than a truly cold one. The colder you want it, the more diluted it will be.
Cold brew produces a much more flavourful, full bodied drink. Using a strong concentrate also opens the door for more diverse cold brew recipes, such as lattes and other espresso-style drinks. So as far as flavour is concerned, cold brew is definitely superior to iced coffee. This has a lot to do with how hot vs room temperature water extract the chemical components of the coffee grinds. Hot water is prone to burning or over extracting coffee, especially if you’re not using a proper grinder and temperature-controlled kettle.
Cold brew on the other hand extracts all the oils and fats that make coffee so good without extracting many of the less desirable components. For example, by some estimates, cold brew coffee is up to 67% less acidic than regular brew and iced coffee. This makes it better for your stomach and teeth, and also contributes to a better tasting drink. So for those who are sensitive to the acidity of coffee, you’ll probably find cold brew to be much smoother and more pleasant to drink.
Comparing the caffeine contact between coffee drinks is not as straightforward as you might think. For example, espresso generally contains a higher concentration of caffeine than drip coffee, but a lower overall caffeine content in, say, a 12 oz drink. Not too complicated. However, there are many factors that contribute to the caffeine content of coffee. The type of beans, darkness of roast, water temperature, grind size and brew time will all impact how much caffeine is extracted. As a rule of thumb, cold brew coffee contains less overall caffeine per drink. This is because hot water extracts more caffeine than room temperature water, and because you don’t typically drink cold brew undiluted. That being said, cold brew is much more highly concentrated. If you compare 16 oz of undiluted cold brew to 16 oz of drip coffee, there might be more caffeine overall in the cold brew. Keep in mind, however, that a cup of drip coffee can contain anywhere between 190 and 360 mg of coffee on average - a pretty wide window. What this all means is that the answer is not cut and dry, but unless you’re drinking undiluted cold brew, it’s likely to contain less caffeine than other coffee drinks.
Cold drip and cold brew are actually very different. While cold brew is made by soaking coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water, cold drip is made by slowly dripping ice water over coffee grounds. The process is similar to that of regular drip coffee, but because heat it not used to extract, the process is much slower. If you’ve ever those tall glass towers that look like something out of a chemistry lab, that is a cold drip tower. Iced water drips slowly from a carafe into fresh coffee grinds, where it filters through and drips into a third carafe where the cold coffee is collected. Cold drip coffee tends to be more bitter and have a higher caffeine content. But as with any coffee drink, ratios and recipes can vary greatly.
Coffee and tea: The world’s favourite breakfast drinks, used globally to help kickstart our brains with a nice boost of our favourite socially acceptable drug: caffeine. But have you ever wondered how much caffeine you’re actually getting from these drinks? Or how drip coffee compares to espresso, and english breakfast to peppermint tea in terms of caffeine content? Caffeine is a very common, highly popular stimulant found in many foods and beverages that is, for the most part, perfectly safe to consume. But too much caffeine can have certain side effects and even cause health problems. So whether you’re simply curious, or if you’re hoping to gain more control over the amount of caffeine you’re consuming on a regular basis, we’ve broken how much caffeine you normally find in some of the most common sources of the stimulant.
Coffee lovers are no strangers to the caffeine buzz. Terms like “caffeine buzz” conjure images of wild eyed, fast talking folks holding their 4th espresso with quivering hands, or chugging a hot mug of dark, black coffee. But how accurate are these images in terms of caffeine content? Few people realize that a shot of espresso actually contains less caffeine than a cup of drip coffee. Furthermore, dark roast coffee will likely contain less caffeine on average than a light roast. How is this so?
The answer to the espresso question is actually quite simple. While espresso is certainly more concentrated than drip coffee, it uses only a fraction of the amount of beans used to make a cup of coffee. The equation is simply less coffee beans = less caffeine.
But what about the caffeine content of different kinds of beans? Don’t espresso and dark roast beans contain more caffeine, which is why they tend to taste stronger? Actually, if anything, the opposite is true. For starters, espresso beans are not necessarily roasted longer. Espresso beans vary greatly in their roasting process in order to achieve a wide variety of flavour characteristics. And as for Light/Medium/Dark roast coffee, beans roasted longer (as in the case of dark roast) actually lose mass in the form of moisture. This doesn’t necessarily alter the caffeine content of the bean to any significant degree. It does mean that if you use the same volume of dark and light roast to brew two different cups of coffee, the light roast will have more caffeine in it. However, if you were to weigh equal amounts of dark and light roast coffee, the dark roast would have more caffeine because you would need more dark roast beans to equal the weight of the light roast. That being said, we’re talking about a difference of a few beans. So it terms of caffeine content, it’s probably not worth worrying about which roast to get. The verdict? Espresso has a higher concentration but a lower overall caffeine content than coffee, and the difference in caffeine between light and dark roast coffee is almost negligible and not universal.
You might be surprised to know that decaf coffee does indeed contain small amounts of caffeine. Caffeine is found as a chemical compound within the coffee bean, and decaf coffee is made by extracting the caffeine from the bean. Generally this is done by soaking the beans and then using pressure and/or a solvent (such as carbon dioxide) to chemically remove the caffeine. This process typically only removes about 94-98% of the caffeine, which is why decaf still contains trace amounts of caffeine.
As you can see, the amount of caffeine in any given coffee beverage can vary greatly. It depends on numerous factors from the type of bean, how many grams of coffee used to brew the beverage, grind size, and even water temperature. To get a more accurate idea of the exact amounts of caffeine you might find, these are the general ranges in mg:
Coffee (8 fl. oz): 85-150 mg
Espresso (1 fl. oz): 47-65 mg
Decaf ( 8 fl. oz): 3-13 mg
Much like coffee, the amount of caffeine in tea can vary greatly from leaf to leaf (or tea bag to tea bag). Factors that affect the amount of caffeine include the type of tea, size of the leaf, and even the water temperature used to brew it. Generally speaking, larger, high quality loose leaf tea will contain less caffeine than cheaper, finely ground or “dusty” tea.
White, Black and Green Teas
The teas with the lowest caffeine content are white teas and green teas. This does include matcha powder, which has a much higher density of green tea leaves per serving, and therefore has a caffeine content more comparable to black tea or coffee. Oolong teas have more caffeine than white and green, but less than black teas, which contain the most caffeine.
Unlike decaf coffee, non caffeinated tea does not contain any trace amount of caffeine. This is because the herbs naturally contain no caffeine, therefore there is no extraction process required. Some common non caffeinated teas include rooibos, chamomile, and peppermint
Yerba Mate is a tea like plant that is renowned for its multi-facteded properties. It contains caffeine, as well as other stimulants found in tea and chocolate, which gives the yerba mate “buzz” its own unique properties.
Green and White tea (8 fl. oz): 8-16 mg
Oolong Tea (8 fl. oz): 25-55 mg
Black Tea (8 fl. oz): 25-110 mg
Matcha (8 fl. oz): 70-100 mg
Yerba Mate (8 fl. oz): 30-75 mg
It’s pretty common knowledge that energy drinks generally contain a lot of caffeine, but did you know that your hot cocoa and chocolate ice cream also contain caffeine? Cocoa is a natural source of caffeine, one of the many properties of chocolate that contribute to its apparent ability to make people feel good. That doesn’t mean you can no longer have a scoop of chocolate ice cream before bed - the caffeine content in chocolate is pretty low, and gets lower the more processed it is. By contrast, energy drinks often contain unnatural amounts of caffeine, among other strong stimulants.
Dark chocolate (1 oz): 12 mg
Milk Chocolate (1 oz): 9 mg
White Chocolate (1 oz): 0 mg (white chocolate contains no cocoa)
Energy Drinks (8 fl. oz): 65-150 mg
The next time you’re looking for a little pick-me-up, there are plenty of surprising sources of caffeine for you to choose from - including your grandpa’s after dinner decaf. Of course, if you ask us, nothing beats old reliable coffee.