Ah, coffee. It’s such a way of life now that it is easy to take for granted just how marvellous it is. But did you know that not everyone feels the same way about coffee as you and I and the Gilmore Girls?
As with anything that has an impact on the body (and which many people enjoy) myths and half-truths abound about why this particular beverage should be avoided and we are here today to dispel some of the most common misconceptions about our beloved coffee bean juice. So here we go: Nine of the most common myths about coffee.
Why are there myths about coffee?
Nowadays it’s easier than ever for false information to spread, all you need is an authoritative enough voice…or a fantastically shareable video. But the distrust of coffee is nothing new. People have been trying to ban it ever since we first began consuming it. Early adopters had to contend with people wishing to shut down coffee shops altogether!
Let’s start with the biggest myth about coffee: Coffee beans aren't actually beans! They are actually the seed, or pit/stone of a cherry like fruit.
Right, now that we have got that out of the way, we can move on to dispelling some myths and begin sharing some truths about coffee.
1. Is coffee addictive?
Anyone who has gone without a coffee for a day or two and had the resulting headache can attest to the fact that yes, coffee withdrawal does have side effects. But does that make coffee addictive? Technically, yes and no. Caffeine addiction (which is not limited to just coffee) is not recognised as a true medically diagnosed condition. But scientists are all agreed that going without can have some nasty side effects and regular use can build up a tolerance to caffeine. Just like other things you can get medically addicted to.
2. Is coffee bad for your health?
We all know someone who is trying to cut down on coffee consumption, or who bypasses it altogether, citing their health as the reason. But is there any truth in coffee being bad for our health?
Overwhelmingly, coffee has been found to be good for your health. It has even been claimed that those who consume it regularly (but not to excess, the amount plays an important part in busting many coffee myths) may actually live longer than those who do not.
Aside from promoting immortality, coffee beans contain many substances that have health-giving properties, protecting from various ailments such as heart disease, Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's and strokes, to name just a few.
There’s also the fact that coffee contains antioxidants which work to reduce inflammation in the body, a state that if left unchecked can lead to some of the most common diseases.
Finally, there is the impact that coffee has on your, um, systems. Coffee has been seen to lessen rates of colorectal cancer and improve liver function, although there is some debate as to whether this is because coffee is a diuretic so things move a bit faster because of it.
As with anything, if you are having a Grande vanilla latte with extra cream every day, these ingredients are going to negate the health-giving properties of the coffee itself.
3. Does all coffee taste the same?
If you do not like the taste of something, then it is easy to assume that everything that contains that ingredient will taste the same. Coffee, however, does not all taste the same. A macchiato made with single origin beans is going to taste vastly different to a large latte made with a generic house espresso blend. There are so many varieties of coffee beans, grown in different places, with far too many variables that impact its flavour and potency to have it all taste uniform.
Then there is the roasting process which further impacts the result before we even go into the brewing methods and styles of beverage that the beans then find themselves in. So, no: all coffee does not taste the same. If you would like an in-depth look, we have a blog post that looks at what different coffees taste like.
4. Is coffee (and decaf coffee) dehydrating?
Caffeine is a well-known diuretic, meaning that it will make you urinate more often. This is why a glass of water is served with an espresso as standard in many countries.
Although when it comes to the drink itself, if you drink your coffee long -with milk or water- the water content of the drink usually makes up for the diuretic effect, meaning that in itself, no, coffee is not dehydrating.
What about decaffeinated coffee?
As the caffeine has been removed (mostly), decaf coffee is not dehydrating in any way whatsoever, even when taken as a shot.
5. Is decaf coffee caffeine free?
Despite the name, decaf coffee is not entirely caffeine free. Most decaf coffee beans will have had around 97% of the caffeine removed, leaving approximately 7mg of caffeine per average cup of coffee. Considering the average caffeine content of a latte is 173mg, that is far preferable for someone avoiding caffeine.
If someone is avoiding caffeine for health benefits, it is worth looking into how the coffee beans have come to be decaffeinated, as the processes used can rely heavily on chemicals that may be detrimental to the human body. Here at the Coffee Bean Shop, we only sell Swiss Water Process coffee beans, which use only water and charcoal to rid the beans of their caffeine safely and naturally.
6. Is black coffee stronger than milky coffee?
Technically, when made with the same amount of coffee, with the same brewing method then no: black coffee is not stronger than milky coffee.
It will taste stronger though as the fat and sweetness of the milk tempers the bitter notes in the extracted coffee, especially in espresso-based drinks, which most coffee shop beverages are made with.
7. Does coffee cause anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental disorder where a person cannot stop worrying about something to the point where it affects their daily life and can result in physical symptoms. It is these symptoms that excessive coffee consumption can mimic. So, no coffee does not cause anxiety, but it can create the same jittery symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
These include a racing heart, sweaty hands, inability to focus and a headache. The trouble is, what is considered an excessive amount of caffeine varies from person to person, and the only real way to know what your limit is is by trial and error.
For those who already have anxiety problems, coffee will only exacerbate it, either because the body will misread the signals and think it is panicking, or because it will put the body into a sense of high alert which could lead to an anxiety attack.
8. Can coffee cause insomnia?
As caffeine is a stimulant it is going to make you feel more awake and alert, but does it actually stop you from falling asleep?
There are two things to consider when answering this question -
- Your body gets rid of caffeine relatively quickly, which is why you need to pee so soon after drinking it, and why you need another cup a few hours after your morning fix.
- Caffeine affects everyone differently. Recent studies have even shown that some neurodivergent types feel little to no effect after drinking coffee, and we all know at least one person can fall asleep straight after drinking caffeine.
If you struggle with your sleep then caffeine is only going to make it worse, especially if you drink it later in the day. The general consensus is to avoid heavy caffeine intake for the six hours leading up to bedtime.
9. Does coffee sober you up?
This is one myth that just won’t quit, and could be quite dangerous if used to try and offset heavy alcohol consumption.
Coffee does not counter the effects of alcohol in the system, and it will not work at getting rid of it either. It will, however, make you feel more alert, which may mask some of the effects of alcohol if you need to focus a bit more in the moment.
And one extra coffee myth, just because:
10. Are darker roasts stronger?
No. if made with the same coffee beans, both darker and lighter roasts will contain the same amount of caffeine, as the caffeine content cannot be increased, much like the calorie content of food cannot be altered from what is naturally found within it.
The difference is more about the taste and bitter things generally taste stronger, even if the caffeine levels are the same.
The caffeine content can be altered by the amount of coffee beans used and the brewing process chosen. Learn more about coffee terminology and brewing methods here.
There is one caveat, however.
Weight for weight, dark and light roasts will contain negligible differences in caffeine. But! When scooped out, a lighter roast will have more caffeine, due to the amount of coffee beans that make up the scooped amount, and what percentage of those beans have been roasted away. Want to know more? Read here to learn more about the caffeine content of your favourite coffee drinks.
Whether you drink coffee for enjoyment or simply to get through the day, you want to make sure that you are using the very best coffee beans available. All of our coffee beans are freshly roasted just before dispatch and come from only the highest quality sources.