It’s waiting for you in the morning. You enjoy it on your way to work or during your lunch break. You are ready to stand in those dreadfully long lines at Starbucks to get it.
What is it?
Coffee. It’s with you every day (at least if you love it as much as I do).
However, it is not always all about good things.
I am talking about coffee myths. Some of them make you feel guilty for enjoying your favorite rich beverage, while in reality, most are simply misinformation.
So, let’s debunk those myths so that the next time someone tries to tell you how you should (or shouldn’t) take your coffee, you would know what to say.
Here’s How Much We Love Coffee
People in America (and around the world, for that matter) love coffee. We start our mornings with it and crave it during the day. Is it dependence? I believe it is love.
And I’m not the only one. Here’s how much people in the US love this flavorful beverage:
- More than 50% of adults in the US drink coffee every day (this makes more than 280 million cups of coffee a day).
- There are more than 21,000 coffee shops in the country.
- 60% of people say that they cannot start their day without a cup of coffee.
- On average, people drink around 3 cups every 24 hours.
- 35% prefer taking their coffee black.
- 65% of the US adults drink coffee during breakfast.
- Only 5% have it with other meals and 30% drink it in between meals.
Americans drink more than 3 billion ounces of coffee every year. However, around 30% of people actually stress about the safety of this beverage. It’s the courtesy of the coffee myths that people believe in. They deliver misinformation, which sometimes makes us feel guilty for enjoying our favorite beverage.
Myth 1: Coffee Can Help You Lose Weight
Oh, if only there was a magical pill (or, in this case, a magical beverage), which could make all those extra pounds disappear. Hate to disappoint you, but coffee will not make you slimmer.
It does have the ability to reduce appetite for short periods of time. And it is also known to slightly increase metabolism. However, these factors cannot do miracles with your extra weight. They can be helpful during your weight loss journey, that’s for sure. But when acting on itself, coffee cannot help you lose weight.
Myth 2: Coffee Makes You Dehydrated
This myth is probably the oldest one (at least I’ve been hearing it for the longest time). Now, try to think of the time when you had real dehydration symptoms after having a cup of freshly brewed coffee. It happened…never, am I right?
Here’s the deal:
The myth of coffee being dehydrating is probably linked to its diuretic properties. Yes, coffee makes us visit a bathroom more often than we usually wish to (to do both number one and number two), but it doesn’t actually deprive us of water. In fact, coffee is a liquid (duh!), which can actually count as a part of your daily water intake. And while it can make you pee more, this only lasts for short periods of time, during which you definitely will not become dehydrated.
Drinking a healthy amount of coffee every day will not harm you. So, as long as you stay within the limits (up to 4 cups a day), you are completely safe.
Myth 3: Coffee Will Stunt Your Growth
Now, tell me honestly:
Do you actually believe in this myth? I mean, if this were true, 80% of the population would probably be not fully grown. I love coffee, and if it really did influence my growth, I would’ve probably shrunk by now.
Get ready to feel silly if you ever believed this myth. It actually takes its roots in an old commercial by a famous coffee substitute beverage brand called Postum. Back at the beginning of the 20th century, the company used advertisement slogans like “Safe for kids because it won’t stunt their growth!” to sell their product and, obviously, to convince parents that coffee is pure evil. However, there is absolutely no scientific proof that coffee can actually slow anyone’s growth. Besides, how many kids who enjoy this beverage do you know? Not plenty. Most children don’t drink coffee at all, so why worry about this silly myth?
Myth 4: Coffee Should Be Kept in a Fridge or a Freezer
No, no, and once again, no. Even though your fridge can keep your food fresh, coffee isn’t food. It’s a precious treasure, which we need to protect and care for. Okay, maybe it’s just me who loves coffee that much, but seriously, fridge and freezer aren’t the best places for your coffee beans.
Let me explain:
Coffee beans don’t like light, heat, and moisture. And while there’s no heat and barely any light in your fridge, moisture is a huge problem. Every time you open the freezer, take the coffee container out, and put it back, there is a temperature change. And it causes moisture to appear right in your coffee container. Guess what happens next? Your coffee beans lose their freshness, flavor, and simply start going bad.
So, you may be wondering, “Where should I keep my coffee then?” The best place is an airtight container placed somewhere in a dark cabinet away from any heat sources (like your stove or kitchen radiator). Trust me, this way, your coffee will taste great.
Myth 5: Instant Coffee Is “Second-Class”Well, when it comes to the flavor, I agree. But this myth isn’t actually about flavor. It’s about the health benefits coffee can offer. Many people believe that instant coffee is pure trash that has nothing to do with “real” brewed coffee when it comes to chemical compounds and antioxidants. Surprisingly, instant coffee does not lose its antioxidants. On the contrary, some of them are present in a higher concentration than in brewed coffee (chlorogenic acid, for example). So, you may consider instant coffee an inferior type because it’s not that flavorful, but at least you know that when it comes to antioxidants, it is on the same level as brewed coffee.
Another interesting myth is about where we get coffee beans from. Many people believe that coffee is fruit. However, to be more exact, coffee beans are seeds.
Myth 6: Decaf Means Zero CaffeineSurprise, surprise! Decaf coffee is not 100% caffeine-free. Are you shocked? Don’t be. Here’s the deal: Even decaf coffee contains some dosage of caffeine. It’s just not as high as in regular coffee. For instance, if you drink, let’s say, 6-10 cups of decaf coffee a day, you will get the amount of caffeine found in 1-2 cups of regular coffee. So, why is decaf presented as no-caffeine coffee? Simply because the amount of caffeine it has does not have any noticeable effect on you. It will not stir you up as regular coffee does. So, don’t worry and keep drinking your decaf, but remember what’s hiding in your cup.
Myth 7: Darker Roasts Are StrongerOne of my friends used to always order the darkest roast at our local coffee shop because, as he would usually say, he needed his “caffeine hit”. He, just like many other people, believed in this widespread myth: the darker the roast, the stronger the coffee. Here’s the deal, though: Lighter roasts actually pack more caffeine than dark ones. The roasting process burns the caffeine off and adds a stronger acidic taste to the beans. So, when you need a really strong cup of coffee, go for lighter roasts. They will taste less acidic but will have a higher caffeine concentration.
Two main coffee bean varieties are Arabica and Robusta. It’s worth knowing that Robusta is actually higher in caffeine while being of lesser quality (flavor-wise) than Arabica.
Myth 8: Coffee Causes Cancer, Heart Disease, Osteoporosis, Caries, Lupus, and a Dozen of Other Health Conditions
Well, I’m kidding about caries and lupus. I feel like only House MD knows where lupus comes from. However, when it comes to cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, people (for whatever reason) believe that coffee has something to do with these illnesses.
Here’s the truth:
Drinking a healthy amount of coffee every day (up to 300-400 mg of caffeine or around 3-4 cups of coffee) will not harm you. In fact, it can even do you good. It is known that moderate coffee consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. What a magical beverage, right?
Now, coffee may cause your heart rate to go a bit higher (temporarily), but only if you a) have a naturally high blood pressure, and b) drink too much of it. As for osteoporosis, coffee does make the calcium absorption a bit slower, but you probably have to drink a few gallons of it every day to develop osteoporosis. And when it comes to cancer, there are many potential triggers that can cause it, but coffee is not one of them. On the contrary, the antioxidants in this beverage can actually reduce the risk of cancer.
Myth 9: Coffee Is Extremely Addictive
Doesn’t it mean that we have to ban it? Or at least write the warning notes on each cup as we do on each pack of cigarettes?
C’mon! This sounds ridiculous. Probably because this myth itself is ridiculous.
Now, don’t get me wrong:
I am not trying to cover the facts here.
Coffee does cause a slight dependence since this substance is a stimulant that affects our nervous system and makes us more alert. However, if you have developed such a dependence, the symptoms of withdrawal will not be long-lasting. Usually, they disappear within the first day (maybe two if you are a hardcore coffee drinker). Which means we can hardly call coffee an extremely addictive substance. So, let’s not scare ourselves. We should enjoy a hot cuppa instead!
Because caffeine has a stimulating effect, it can slightly increase your metabolism. However, it isn’t enough to help you lose weight. Seriously, you still need to exercise and watch what you eat.
Myth 10: Coffee Fights Alcohol
Last but definitely not least. This myth is my personal favorite, as it makes me laugh every time I hear someone claiming this. If only things were that easy! Imagine being at a party, then drinking a cup of coffee, and boom – you are suddenly ready to drive home your own car! Sounds like a scenario from a fiction novel.
The reality is different. Coffee does not have a sobering effect. It makes your brain more alert, that’s true. But it doesn’t make you sober. Actually, drinking coffee when trying to sober up is a dangerous game to play. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it will put your brain in the “fight or flight” mode, which might make you feel like you are ready to conquer the world. Or drive after drinking alcohol. Not a good idea, don’t you agree? So, it’s best to avoid coffee and sober up in a proper way: sleep and give yourself some time to recover.
Did you believe in any of these myths? Which one do you find the most ridiculous? Let us know in the comments down below!
My name is Yurii Brown. I am a passionate coffee geek and, concurrently, a certified coffee specialist.
I’ve been learning about coffee for a long time, testing various devices and practicing in home coffee brewing. I like to share my experience and insights with fellow coffee lovers so that my readers could enjoy the real taste of quality-brewed beverages.