If you regularly consume coffee to wake up, stay focused or improve your performance, you’re far from alone. There are millions of people around the world who rely on caffeine for its cognitive benefits.
Whether it’s a simple Americano on a weekday morning or a tasty Cappuccino to end off the weekend, we all have our preferences when it comes to how and when we drink coffee. The main question is: what counts as too much? Once we establish the amount we should be drinking, it’s also important to determine the ideal quantity to buy each time.
Cream and Sugar
The first factor to consider is the list of ingredients that make up your usual coffee. As long as you minimize the presence of cream and sugar, your caffeinated beverage won’t be as fattening and generally harmful as an energy drink or soda. There are next to zero calories in a cup of brewed black coffee, and no unhealthy fat either.
For those who are accustomed to sweetening and thickening their coffee, eliminating these tempting ingredients can be challenging. If you find yourself struggling to move away from cream or sugar, try slowly reducing the amounts that you put into your cups. You can also experiment with substituting for healthier alternatives such as honey.
It might seem impossible from the beginning, but you will slowly get used to the more bitter taste of coffee that doesn’t contain cream or sugar. You may even notice an improvement in the effect of the caffeine as you’ll no longer suffer from the crash typically brought on by sweeteners.
So, health concerns aside, what do the ingredients you drink your coffee with have to do with the number of cups you should get? You can probably guess the answer - the less cream, sugar, and other unhealthy products you include in your brew, the more coffee you can drink on any given day without negatively impacting your wellbeing.
From this point onwards, we are going to assume that you’re drinking your coffee black. In other words, that you don’t put any additional ingredients into your cup. That way, it will be easier to provide an accurate number of cups that the average person can drink.
How Much is Too Much?
There is an ongoing debate in the health community about how much coffee an individual should consume.
In recent studies, researchers found that six cups of coffee (eight ounces each) per day was sufficient to cause a 22% increase in the risk of heart disease. This was an examination of nearly 350,000 different participants, making the results fairly reliable.
An older study from 2013 that was performed by the University of South Carolina and took place over 32 years reached the conclusion that people who consumed more than 28 cups per week faced a higher risk of death than those who had less coffee. That number equates to four cups per day, which is less than what many individuals are drinking.
On the other hand, some studies suggest that downing far higher amounts is completely safe. For example, researchers who were partially funded by the British Heart Foundation reported that people can safely consume a whopping 25 cups of the caffeinated beverage in question per day. Granted, there were only 8,000 participants in this study.
Perhaps we can look to official government regulations to identify a reliable daily amount. The federal dietary guideline recommends three to four cups of coffee per day, each being eight ounces and totaling 400 milligrams of caffeine. This is purported to be a valid component of a healthy diet.
Factors to Consider
The general consensus appears to be that three to four cups per day is the right amount of coffee to be drinking, or at least the most you should consume in a 24-hour period. What also matters is when you drink your coffee.
Assuming you wish to stand any chance of falling asleep on time, you should avoid consuming coffee in the hours before bed. Caffeine has a biological half-life of seven to nine hours, meaning that the coffee you drink in the morning will no longer affect you by the evening. However, any caffeine you drink later in the day will make it harder to fall asleep.
Since people react differently to caffeine, how much you should be consuming also depends on personal factors. It’s vital that you pay attention to how you feel and perform, adjusting your intake accordingly. For instance, if you find yourself feeling anxious, getting the jitters, or struggling to get enough shuteye, chances are that you should scale back on coffee.
Buying Your Coffee
Depending on the methods you use to buy and brew your coffee, how much you should get each time and when you should be purchasing your coffee might also be of concern. This is especially true if you brew with beans, as the longer you leave them out unused, the further the quality of the roast will disintegrate.
To determine the answer, you need to consider how much coffee you consume each day. If you’re aiming for the three to four cup average, use that number to figure out the quantity of beans you use throughout the week. You can then determine how much to buy so that the final few beans of each bag are still fresh by the time you use them.
In general, a 1kg bag of coffee beans should be convenient enough that you don’t have to constantly purchase more while not lasting long enough to damage the quality and flavor of your brew. You can order your 1kg bag coffee beans online to get a fresher bag as the product will come straight from the manufacturing facility.
This is often a better approach then heading to a local store, as there the bag you buy might have been sitting on the shelves for days or even weeks before you bought it.
Is Coffee Actually Healthy?
Regardless of how much coffee you drink or buy, the most important thing to understand is whether it’s even healthy in the first place. It should come as no surprise that there are both pros and cons to drinking coffee. So, do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? Is coffee truly healthy enough to be consumed on a daily basis?
There are several well-established advantages to drinking our favorite caffeinated beverage, including:
- Lower risk of diabetes and heart failure
- Reduced likelihood of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- Improved liver health
- Decreased breakage of DNA strands
- Lower risk of certain cancers and stroke
On the other hand, we should also be aware of the potential negative effects that come with consuming coffee on a regular basis. Excessive caffeine consumption, in particular, is known to increase your heart rate beyond the healthy limit, as well as increasing anxiety, insomnia and blood pressure.
Once again, how much you’re drinking is the key factor. Your risk of heart problems might be reduced with controlled consumption of caffeine but increased when you drink too much coffee as your heart rate constantly spikes and you don’t get enough sleep.
It’s also important to remember that coffee alone doesn’t make for a healthy lifestyle. Factors such as diet, exercise, habits and how you spend your time in general are just as essential to your wellbeing as what you drink.
You might also want to be more cautious about drinking coffee if you’re taking certain medications. There are also some disorders that can negatively interact with caffeine, including anxiety, bipolar and specific bleeding disorders. Your best bet is to consult your doctor if you want to improve your performance by drinking more coffee.
Coffee and Children
What about children and teenagers? Should your little ones be allowed to drink coffee, or are they better off staying away from it until they’re older? As you might expect, caffeine intake among younger individuals should be closely monitored and ideally kept to a minimum.
Allowing your child to consume coffee or energy drinks at an early age might also lead to an unhealthy dependence on the stimulant later in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for those aged between 12 and 18, use of caffeine should be kept under 100 milligrams per day, which equates to roughly one cup of coffee.
While rare, there are several reports of caffeine having abnormally harmful effects on teens and there is no definitive amount that can be deemed safe for all ages. At the end of the day, there are healthier alternatives for children to be drinking, such as tea and fermented drinks. Of course, water is always the number one option.
At this point, you should have a much better idea as to how many cups of coffee you should be drinking and buying. Be sure to pay attention to how any adjustments in your caffeine intake affect how you feel and perform. Sometimes, less truly is more.