It depends! The reality is that it depends on your metabolism, on the amount you take, the time of the day… there isn’t a single valid answer! Not everybody processes caffeine in the same way. Some people process it faster, but for other people it remains in the nervous system for many more hours. Moreover, the way our body metabolises coffee changes as we age.

Long-term consumption of caffeine has been found to have many benefits, including:

  • Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation
  • Provides small amounts of magnesium, potassium, and niacin
  • Lessens the effects of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cirrhosis
  • May protect against Parkinson’s disease

However, some negatives are:

  • If consumed with sugar or sweeteners, it is less healthy
  • It interferes with liver function
  • If consumed in the afternoon/evening, it interferes with sleep (even if you are one of those persons who can fall asleep after having caffeine, it can affect sleep quality)
  • An excessive amount of caffeine may lead to increased risk of coronary heart disease, may slightly reduce bone density, and may increase anxiety, jitteriness, nausea and gastrointestinal distress.

That’s why it may be worth paying attention to what happens when you take caffeine – especially if you rely on coffee to make it through the whole day.

If you have coffee in the afternoon, do you find yourself jittery later in the day? Are you able to have 1-2 cups and then stop, or do you feel you need coffee to keep you going? Ideally, when we get that afternoon slump, we would rest for a few minutes rather than having some caffeine – this might also help us to fall asleep faster at night.

Therefore, pay attention to your body and if you feel caffeine may no longer agree with you, try to give it up for a few days, or reduce the amount you consume, and see how you feel.

Remember that caffeine is found not only in coffee, but also in black tea, green tea, cola, cocoa, and even (albeit in small amounts) in chocolate!

Overall, the balance of positives and negatives seems to be tilted towards more benefits that risks in the long term. If coffee agrees with you, enjoy it in your favourite form! I like it as a cappuccino, with some plant-based milk and some cinnamon powder sprinkled on top.