Coffee Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/12/22 •  11 min read
coffee benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: coffee benefits may include alertness, boost metabolism, exercise performance, increase brain function, lessen likeliness of committing suicide, lower the risk of becoming depressed, reduce tiredness and makes you feel more alert, *all short-term effects | coffee side effects may include anxiety, brain fog, caffeine withdraw, exhaustion, exacerbated panic attacks, headaches, irritability, heart palpitations, jitteriness, sleep problems

Longevity: coffee benefits may include detoxification, increase length of life, liver health, lower the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, lower the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer, lung health | coffee side effects may include raised blood pressure

Appearance: coffee benefits may include anti-aging, healthy skin, weight loss

Coffee is…

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Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: high, 18,925 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of roasted coffee / 2,268 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of roasted coffee

Carbon footprint: high, 10.1 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of coffee, a car driving equivalent of 23.35 miles or 37.5 kilometers

Destruction: high, coffee production is relatively destructive, heavy deforestation, coffee grown by “traditional means” is cultivated under a shaded canopy of trees, a valuable habitat for indigenous animals and insects, these trees prevent topsoil erosion and there is no need for chemical fertilizers BUT due to demand, it is more popular for farmers to use ‘sun cultivation’ with no forested canopy, resulting in necessary fertilizers and a negative effect on biodiversity

Coffee is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, coffee production does not require any animals to die

Harms: none, coffee production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: Asian palm civets (a small mammal) if “civet coffee” also known as Kopi luwak and sanctuary elephants in Thailand if Black Ivory Coffee, civet animals in Indonesia are fed coffee beans, the excreted beans are used for consumption, its rarity and status (the most expensive coffee in the world) has led to intensive animal farming of civets, who are confined in cages and force-fed coffee beans, many of these creatures have no clean drinking water, no interaction with other civets and live in cages in their own waste, many civets must stand, sleep, and sit on wire floors in pain and discomfort and get sores and abrasions from it, they are stressed being in captivity

elephants in Thailand are also fed coffee beans, which they will excrete to make Black Ivory Coffee, there are currently no reports of severe harm yet but they are still exploited, no other animals are indirectly killed or harmed from coffee production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Coffee is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: hazardous, adults and children experience dangerous levels of sun exposure, injuries, and poisoning from contact with agrochemicals, due to low wages worker’s children are often underweight and malnourished, families live with no power and have little or no access to safe, clean drinking water and no money for necessary medications in countries like Nicaragua, in Kenya some women and their daughters are sexually abused by their employers and supervisors, more than 90% of study respondents said they experienced or observed sexual abuse within their workplaces

Living conditions: poor, there are reports of child labor for coffee plantations in at least 14 countries around the world, many parents in regions of Brazil take their children out of school to work on coffee farms which creates a cycle because they are denied education for better jobs, women who report sexual abuse are often fired or demoted

Wages: low, some coffee workers earn less than one dollar per day, coffee farmers typically only 7–10% of coffee’s retail price, in Brazil workers can earn less than 2% of the retail price, in Kenya, for instance seasonal workers make around 12 dollars per month, in Guatemala most coffee workers do not get overtime pay or employee benefits required by law, many are paid less than the minimum wage

Coffee has…

Where does most coffee come from?

The world’s top coffee producing country is Ivory Coast, followed by Ghana and Indonesia. The world’s top coffee exporting country is Switzerland, followed by Brazil, Germany, Columbia, Vietnam, USA, Italy, Guatemala, Honduras and France.

Is coffee nutritious?

Coffee is high in antioxidants, Riboflavin, and caffeine.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

coffee is acidic.

Is coffee alkaline or acidic? Coffee is acidic. What is the pH level of coffee? Most coffee has a 4.5 pH level, once digested.

When you eat food it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

coffee is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is coffee gluten free? Yes, coffee is gluten free. Black, unflavored coffee with nothing added does not contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

coffee is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is coffee a common food allergen? No, coffee is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to coffee but it is uncommon.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

coffee has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does coffee have a high or low water footprint? Coffee has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods and beverages.

What is the water footprint of coffee? It takes 18,925 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of roasted coffee / 2,268 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of roasted coffee.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

coffee has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does coffee have a high or low carbon footprint? Coffee has a relatively high carbon footprint.

What is the carbon footprint of coffee? It takes around 10.1 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of coffee, a car driving equivalent of 23.35 miles or 37.5 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

coffee is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is coffee eco friendly? Is coffee sustainable? No, coffee production is unsustainable.

Coffee production not only has a high water footprint and high carbon footprint but also involves heavy deforestation. If coffee is grown by “traditional means” it is cultivated under a shaded canopy of trees, which serves as a valuable habitat for indigenous animals and insects. These types of trees prevent topsoil erosion and there is no need for chemical fertilizers. However, due to extremely high worldwide demand for coffee, it is much more popular for farmers to use ‘sun cultivation’ with no forested canopy, which results in habitat loss and many necessary but toxic fertilizers are used.

coffee is vegan (unless kopi luwak or black ivory coffee).

coffee is typically vegan but some exotic animals are sometimes used

Is coffee vegan? Yes, coffee is vegan. Coffee is made from coffee beans from the coffee tree and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. However, it should be noted that some rare coffees use elephants or civets are to digest coffee beans.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

coffee is a product with labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is coffee a product that has labor issues? Yes, there are reports of worker mistreatment regarding coffee bean farming.

Adults and children experience dangerous levels of sun exposure, injuries, and poisoning from contact with agrochemicals used when farming coffee. Due to low wages coffee worker’s children are often underweight and malnourished. Families live with no power and have little or no access to safe, clean drinking water and no money for necessary medications in countries like Nicaragua. In Kenya, there are reports of women and their daughters that are sexually abused by their employers and supervisors. More than 90% of coffee laborer respondents said they experienced or observed sexual abuse within their workplaces.

There are reports of child labor for coffee plantations in at least 14 countries around the world. Many parents in regions of Brazil take their children out of school to work on coffee farms which creates a cycle because they are denied education for better jobs. Women who report sexual abuse are often fired or demoted.

Some coffee workers earn less than one dollar per day! Coffee farmers typically only earn 7–10% of coffee’s retail price. In Brazil workers can earn less than 2% of the retail price. Seasonal workers in Kenya make around 12 dollars per month. In Guatemala most coffee workers do not get overtime pay or the employee benefits that are required by law. Many coffee workers around the world earn less than the minimum wage.

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.

Sources:

Harvard, The Nutrition Source, Coffee

Beverages, coffee, brewed, prepared with tap water

Coffee | USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Caffeine – MedlinePlus

Civets Suffering for Cruel Coffee | PETA

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.