Posted in Kafevend Blog

Quickened and quarrelsome

Following on from our suggestion about using tea to keep calm earlier this week, we thought it was only right to consider how you can go the opposite way with our other top drink- coffee. Whilst both tea and coffee contain the excitable compound caffeine, it's coffee we turn to when we want to feel the effects- why is that, and just what is caffeine doing in there when our heads are set a-buzzing?

Coffee and caffeine

Let's start with the easy one then: why do we go for coffee over tea? Because there's more caffeine in coffee! If only everything was that easy to explain. Whilst this is a good rule of thumb, it's worth pointing out that the caffeine contents aren't exactly predictable. Relying on the number of cups of coffee you've had is misleading, as the amount of caffeine found in each varies wildly due to things like the roast, brewing method and even the growing conditions of the beans used. Ordering the exact same type of coffee from the same coffee house isn't even a guarantee.

So what is caffeine doing to make us get that buzzy feeling? Time for a little bit of biology. When it enters our system, caffeine binds itself to receptors that are usually on the look out for something called adenosine. This is produced throughout the day, and as more and more reach the receptors, the more tired we feel- thus prompting us to sleep. By hijacking the receptor, caffeine banishes the impulse to become tired- for a few hours, at least. It isn't because of the caffeine, but because the levels of other things such as dopamine swell, that produces the well known buzz.

Swings and roundabouts

It takes different amounts of caffeine for different people to feel the effect. It will take even more if they have made a habit of consuming caffeine- whether it's from coffee, tea, or the proliferation of energy drinks on the market. It's worth pointing out that caffeine is a drug, with all that entails- addiction, dependency and withdrawal. Just because something is generally accepted doesn't make it safe! Anyone who has missed their regular cup of Java in the morning will no doubt be able to attest to a headache and irritability to name but a few symptoms. Thankfully there are benefits to coffee drinking too: besides the increased alertness, it may help to reduce cardiovascular disease for example.

We feel it is worth reminding you that everything in moderation is a good yardstick to live by, and coffee is no exception. Whilst you may feel you need your coffee and caffeine to get around, make sure you don't go overboard with it, and you'll potentially save yourself some grief in the future!


Mental floss
The Guardian

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