Why do people drink coffee?

In this guide we will answer the question “why do people drink coffee?” and will discuss the effects of its consumption on the body.

Why do people drink coffee?

For many people, coffee is more than a habit, it is an addiction. Coffee is a drink that draws a lot of attention for its aroma. Even those who don’t like to drink coffee like its aroma.

Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the western world. In the United States, 85–89% of the population consumed at least one caffeinated beverage per day and consumption has constantly increased within the last decades (1).

There are controversies regarding coffee addiction. Some studies say that coffee does not have the power to be addictive. Others say that withdrawal from coffee can cause a variety of symptoms (1).

Coffee means pleasure for some and necessity for others. Drinking coffee during work is the best way to ward off sleep. According to a survey of American universities, it also helps employees be more honest.

Young people are starting the habit of drinking coffee at an earlier age. A study revealed that about 25% of the adolescents from 6th- and 7th-grade youth attending a middle school had frequent coffee consumption habits, having at least one cup of coffee per week (2).  According to a survey carried out by the market intelligence institute Euromonitor, 17 years is the average age at which many start to consume the drink frequently – and not just on certain occasions. 

It was the lowest average since the institute began researching the drink more than a decade ago.

Why is coffee consumption becoming more common?

The reasons for this are several: entry into the job market earlier (and who doesn’t need a good cup of coffee before starting that report or finishing the spreadsheets?), dissemination of the drink (and the marketing of large coffee shops around the world has a lot relationship with that), greater offer of good coffees, etc.

But the point is that young people are transforming the consumption of the drink around the world – and this is affecting (positively and drastically) the global coffee market. According to research, the interest by young people aged 16 to 25 for the drink have been increasing mainly in large metropolitan areas due to category innovations and coffeehouses experiences with innovative concepts, as well as the varied offer of innovative products for home consumption that seek to mimic an experience similar to the cafeteria (3).

People who drink coffee at least three times a day do not like the taste of the drink, but they are addicted to caffeine, indicates a study by a group of German researchers from the “University Jena” (1).

The researchers tested both frequent drinkers and those who hardly drink coffee and found that there is little difference between them in terms of satisfaction given by the consumption, which confirms that heavy coffee consumption is associated with strong wanting despite low liking for coffee, indicating that wanting becomes independent from liking through repeated consumption of caffeine (1). 

What does coffee do to your body?

According to a study carried out in the UK, people who drink coffee make more interesting work partners and add more fun to the workplace. They tend to enjoy working in a team and involve others in a discussion or activity.

When caffeine enters your bloodstream, it acts as fuel. It also increases the level of adrenaline in your body to significantly improve your physical performance. Some suggest that you have a cup of coffee about an hour before hitting the gym or working out. There is considerable data demonstrating that caffeine increases adrenaline levels. Caffeine antagonizes A1 receptors of adipocytes and this enhances lipolysis (this may be supplemented with increased sympathetic activity resulting in adrenergic β-receptor stimulation); the elevation of free fatty acids (FFA) levels results in increased hepatic uptake of FFAs, some of which are oxidized or esterified to triglycerides; the excess FFAs form ketone bodies, which are released and cleared by several tissues, including skeletal muscle (4).

The caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine in the brain, which is an inhibitory transmitter. That’s why coffee drinkers have higher energy levels. Their brains function at significantly higher levels. Coffee improves reaction time, memory and general cognitive function. Caffeine facilitates performance in tasks involving working memory to a limited extent, but hinders performance in tasks that heavily depend on working memory, and caffeine appears to rather improve memory performance under suboptimal alertness conditions. Most studies, however, found improvements in reaction time. The ingestion of caffeine does not seem to affect long-term memory (5).

While many warn of excessive caffeine consumption, one study looked at the link between coffee drinking and mortality, through genetic variation in the metabolism of the main active in grains, and came to unexpected results. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), research says the compound can reduce mortality (6).

Over 410 years, researchers looked at more than 500,000 people in the UK, between the ages of 38 to 73 years old, with around 380,000 having the habit of drinking the drink. In the course of the research, there were more than 14,200 deaths for various reasons. 

From the way the blood absorbs caffeine, they concluded that the increase in mortality is inversely proportional to the consumption of fluid. In other words, people who drank from one to eight cups a day were less at risk of life.

A researcher from the University of Medicine in FranceMinho (UMinho) concluded that coffee consumers have better motor control, higher levels of attention and alertness and that caffeine has “benefits in learning and memory”. However, caffeine facilitates learning in tasks in which information is presented passively; in tasks in  which material is learned intentionally, caffeine has no effect (5).

Alternative ways to have coffee

In the late 2000s, lifestyle author and CEO of Bulletproof Dave Asprey returned from Tibet after drinking tea buttered from the milk of yak, a long-haired herbivore found in the Himalayan region at high altitudes. 

In the years that followed, he began promoting coffee blended with butter, which swept across the United States and became a favorite with fitness enthusiasts and those on low-carb, low-fat diets.

As a result, buttered coffee has become popular in Western coffee consuming markets, specifically in the United Kingdom and the United States. Supposedly, caffeine “mixes” with the oils and fats in butter to provide the drinker with slow-release energy throughout the day or a long exercise session.

Although the drink first appeared in lifestyle groups in the late 2000s, butter has been mixed with coffee for centuries.

Other FAQs about Coffee that you may be interested in.

Can you freeze brewed coffee?

Can you cold brew coffee in the fridge?

Can you burn coffee?

Conclusion

In this guide we answered the question “why do people drink coffee?” and discussed the effects of its consumption on the body.

Citations

  1. Koranyi, Nicolas, et al. Dissociation between wanting and liking for coffee in heavy drinkers. J Psychopharmacol, 2020, 34, 1350-1356.
  2. Rodrigues, Roberta Prado, Luciana Florêncio de Almeida, and Eduardo Eugênio Spers. Coffee and health in the perspective of young consumers. Coffee consumption and industry strategies in brazil. Woodhead Publishing, 2020. 343-366.  
  3. Marmorstein, Naomi R. Investigating associations between caffeinated beverage consumption and later alcohol consumption among early adolescents. Addic behav, 2019, 90, 362-368.
  4. Graham, Terry E. Caffeine and exercise. Sports med, 2001, 31, 785-807.
  5. Nehlig, Astrid. Is caffeine a cognitive enhancer?. J Alzheimer’s Dis, 2010, 20, S85-S94.
  6. Loftfield, Erikka, et al. Association of coffee drinking with mortality by genetic variation in caffeine metabolism: findings from the UK Biobank. JAMA int med, 2018, 178, 1086-1097.