coffee berries

Lately, I have been concerned about the amount of coffee that we consume in our house. I decided to spend a little time learning more about this interesting beverage.

First things first…coffee is not technically a bean. It is the seed inside of a coffee cherry.

Several species of shrub of the genus “Coffea” produce the berries from which coffee is extracted. Seeds are dried and roasted in preparation for making our familiar strong flavored brew.

Coffee is cultivated in over 50 countries, Latin America being the leader in the industry. It takes 5-7 years for a tree to reach maturity, and the tree can live as long as 70 years!

I read that the human body will only be affected by caffeine up to a certain level when coffee is drunk. (After a certain number of cups of coffee, consuming more will provide no further stimulation as the rest is not absorbed.) I’m not sure how accurate that is or not, considering overdose can happen with any products containing caffeine.

Caffeine Overdose Documented Cases (from:

Here are some of the more recent cases easily found on Google resulting in death or hospitalization;

19 year old James Stone dies after taking 25 to 30 No Doz pills in 2007. (at least 2.5 grams of caffeine)

40 Seagulls die from caffeine overdose in Canada this year from eating used coffee grinds.

17 year old Jasmine Willis, a Durham, UK waitress overdosed by drinking 7 double espressos in 2007. She was taken to the hospital, but recovered soon after.  (that’s roughly 1.078 grams)

In the late 1990’s an Australian woman, with a heart condition died after consuming a guarana based shot from her local health food store. This product is no longer on the market. (10g/liter, ok that’s just nuts!)

2010 a 23 British man from Mansfield, England died after taking to 2 spoonfuls of pure caffeine powder washed down by an energy drink at a party. His death was ruled accidental.

2011 Fourteen-year-old Anais Fournier, died after she reportedly consumed two 24 ounce Monsters (480mg of caffeine) in a 24 hour period. Cause of death was a heart arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. There seems to be some conflicting stories as to how much she really consumed and this seems true since 480mg in a 24 hour period isn’t a toxic amount.

Coffee is one of the most heavily traded products in the world, second only to oil. World coffee exports amounted to 9.85 million bags in May 2012. The five highest coffee consumer areas are Canada, the United States, Austria, Italy and Scandinavia. Hawaii is the only state in the USA to grow coffee and coffee is not grown in the UK. In fact, this is the only article I could find about coffee grown in the UK.

Jamie’s restaurant creates first British-grown cup of coffee

The bar manager at Fifteen Cornwall is harvesting beans farmed at the Eden Project to create what is believed to be the first ever cup of coffee made purely from beans grown in the UK

Newer studies have shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer.

High consumption of unfiltered coffee is associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels. And another study found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific — and fairly common — genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body.

So, how much is too much?

According to the Mayo clinic:

Although moderate caffeine intake isn’t likely to cause harm, too much can lead to some unpleasant effects. Heavy daily caffeine use — more than 500 to 600 mg a day (5-6 cups)  may cause:





Stomach upset

Fast heartbeat

Muscle tremors

Also, Certain medications and supplements may interact with caffeine.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and norfloxacin (Noroxin) — types of antibacterial medications — can interfere with the breakdown of caffeine. This may increase the length of time caffeine remains in your body and amplify its unwanted effects.

Theophylline (Theo-24, Elixophyllin–This medication — which opens up bronchial airways by relaxing the surrounding muscles (a bronchodilator) — tends to have some caffeine-like effects. Taking it along with caffeinated foods and beverages may increase the concentration of theophylline in your blood. This can cause adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting and heart palpitations.

Echinacea–This herbal supplement, which is sometimes used to prevent colds or other infections, may increase the concentration of caffeine in your blood and may increase caffeine’s unpleasant effects.

Unusual coffee facts:

Did you know that contrary to popular belief light roast coffee actually has more caffeine than dark roast coffee?

How about a car that runs on coffee? Gas station pumps with Starbucks used grounds? A year ago you might have said that sounded ridiculous but today it looks almost within reach, almost. Read the entire article here:

A Belgian man living in Guatemala named George Washington invented instant coffee in 1906.

The term “Cup of Joe” comes from American servicemen in WW2 being seen as big coffee drinkers.

Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets got his start doing coffee ads.

Most coffee is transported by ships. Currently there are approximately 2,200 ships involved in transporting the beans each year.

Flavored coffee originated in the United States during the 1970’s.

Seattle has the most coffee shops per capital in the United States (35 per 100,000).

Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. It comes from Indonesia and is made from coffee beans that are eaten, partly digested and then excreted by the Asian palm civet, a weasel-like animal. Apparently, digestion adds a unique flavor to the beans, which are collected from the animal’s feces and sold to those who are rich enough…and brave enough to try it.

So what did I learn from all of this? As always, moderation is key and I learned some interesting facts along the way!

20 responses

  1. floraseasons says:

    During my high school years, I worked at a coffee shop in my hometown I didn’t like coffee back then, but since we got a free drink during every shift I started making mint mochas. That was the start of a long relationship with coffee. Your posts are always so thorough and informative, they are a joy to read!

    • Mint mocha is one of my favorites. I make it at home now because it’s so much cheaper…and I can make it fat and sugar free. Thanks a bunch for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it! By the way, you were nominated for awards in my last post! Please feel free to grab them whenever time permits!

  2. Wow, you did a lot of research on this. I don’t drink coffee anymore. It took many years to completely give it up. Never did I drink more than 2 cups a day as I’m allergic and get bad headaches that last for days. What I do now, is drink pure, raw cacao powder, mixed with coconut palm sugar (low glycemic index) in warm (not boiling!) water. I get the natural stimulant plus antioxidants and it tastes great. I try to limit myself to 2 cups per day, but it’s not easy.:)

  3. Regards the level of toxicity, I guess it depends on the individual’s ability to metabolise caffeine. I love coffee but mostly drink it decaffeinated as I find that the caffeine builds up in my system and that even one cup one day will make me feel really nauseous and agitated!

    • Marcella Rousseau says:

      I’m like you. My system can’t handle it either. I only drink decaf and on very rare occasions drink the real stuff.

  4. theshanakee says:

    Everything in moderation though that won’t help my sales. Great blog with a massive amount of research. If you enjoy great coffees check out Thanx…

  5. Alyssa says:

    WOW great research, and some really in-depth detail here! I do not drink coffee, never have and never will, I have never been able to find any blend that taste good. Great Post! 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    interesting facts,i like it. i spotted an error though,it is per capita not capital! all and all though very interesting.

  7. Thanks for such an informative post! I am a one cup of coffee a day girl. My favorite is Cafe Mocha! 🙂

  8. Love this info! I too have been curious about how much is too much. Interestingly enough, today at Target, I decided to get an iced coffee from S & they now offer White Coffee, which has all the same amounts of caffeine but tastes like a fruity refreshing drink! Yum, but the price is the same- $3+. I will be blogging about it!

  9. slowborg says:

    I love coffee so muuuch! But trying to limit to max 1 cup a day. That civet poo coffee makes me sad. Can you imagine how wired these poor monkeys must be made to eat coffee beans constantly? Oh dear.

  10. Coffee and chocolate. I can go without the third but not coffee and chocolate. 🙂

  11. Hehe caffeine wired monkeys.

  12. Cathy says:

    Amazing! I shall think twice about a third cup now… two is a necessity! Great post!

  13. Robert says:

    Interesting post! I’ve wondered where “Cup o Joe’ came from. I’ve given up coffee from time to time only to come back to it sheepishly. “I can’t quit you!” I’m mostly drinking decaf but I can’t get a straight answer about how little caffeine is actually in decaf and is there enough to give you a little pick-me-up.

    • I am hopelessly addicted but have managed to cut back. Not sure about decaf, maybe a cup of tea would make a better slight pick-me-up. Thanks for your comment!

  14. julieinbali says:

    Thanks for looking at my blog… I just saw your post about coffee and thought you might like my post on coffee too…

  15. Wow. Who knew? I feel like I just got a crash course in caffeine. As I get older I find that I’m relying on caffeine more and more in the mornings. Thanks for doing the research on this.

    Tammy of “Walking inPretty Shoes”