top of page

Exploring the Science: Is Coffee Good for You?

Updated: May 11

Coffee is one of the world’s most beloved beverages, enjoyed by millions of people every day. But the question lingers: Is coffee good for you? In this article, we’ll sift through the research and shed light on some of the health effects of coffee consumption. From its potential benefits to possible drawbacks, we aim to provide a comprehensive answer to the age-old question surrounding this popular drink.

The Perks of Coffee

Let's start with the positive side. While the effects of coffee can vary from person to person, there is scientific evidence to suggest that coffee has the potential to boost cognitive function, increase alertness, and enhance athletic performance.

1. Cognitive function

  • A study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found that caffeine, the main active compound in coffee, can enhance cognitive performance, including attention, alertness, and memory.

  • Another study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed that coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Alertness

  • The stimulating effect of caffeine in coffee can promote wakefulness and alertness. A study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology demonstrated that caffeine consumption improves subjective alertness and performance on attention tasks.

  • Research published in the journal Psychopharmacology showed that moderate doses of caffeine can enhance vigilance, reaction time, and attention, particularly during tasks that require sustained force.

3. Athletic performance

  • Caffeine has been shown to have ergogenic effects, meaning it can enhance physical performance. A meta-analysis published in the journal Sports Medicine revealed that caffeine ingestion before exercise can improve endurance performance, muscle strength, and power.

  • Another study published in the Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that caffeine intake can enhance aerobic endurance, increase time to exhaustion, and improve exercise performance.

It’s important to note that individual responses to coffee and caffeine can vary. Some people may be more sensitive to its effects, while others may experience tolerance or even negative effects such as increased anxiety or disrupted sleep. Moderation is key, and it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional if you have specific health concerns or conditions.

Potential Drawbacks

While coffee offers a host of benefits, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks as well. Caffeine has been shown to negatively affect quality of sleep and anxiety levels in humans, not to mention also being mildly addictive. Let's take a closer look.

1. Sleep quality

  • Caffeine has been shown to interfere with sleep quality by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, which can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle. This means that consuming coffee close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep and may reduce the overall quality of sleep.

  • A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine even 6 hours before bedtime significantly reduced total sleep time, sleep efficiency and sleep quality.

2. Anxiety

  • Caffeine consumption can also impact anxiety levels. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and increases alertness, but for some individuals, it may lead to increased anxiety or jitteriness. People with anxiety disorders or sensitive responses to caffeine may experience heightened anxiety symptoms after consuming caffeinated beverages. However, the effects of caffeine on anxiety can vary depending on the individual’s tolerance and sensitivity.

3. Addictive properties

  • Caffeine is a mildly addictive substance. Regular consumption of caffeine can lead to physical and psychological dependence. When caffeine intake is abruptly stopped or reduced, some individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. However, the addictive potential of caffeine is relatively low compared to other substances, and most people can consume caffeine in moderation without experiencing significant addiction-related issues.


So, is coffee good for you? The answer lies in striking a balance. Coffee, when consumed in moderation and tailored to your individual needs, can be enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle. It offers potential benefits such as improved cognitive function and alertness. However, it’s crucial to be mindful of your caffeine intake and any potential drawbacks. By understanding your body and making informed choices, you can savour the pleasures of coffee while prioritizing your wellbeing.

If you found this article useful, there is a wealth of information - both in print and online - about the research that goes into understanding the short and long-term effects of coffee consumption in humans. See below for a full list of studies mentioned in this article.

Mentioned Studies

Cognitive function:

  • Nehlig A. (2010). Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer?. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 20(Suppl 1), S85-S94.

  • Santos, C., Costa, J., Santos, J., & Vaz-Carneiro, A. (2010). Caffeine intake and dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 20(Suppl 1), S187-S204.


  • Einother, S. J., & Giesbrecht, T. (2013). Caffeine as an attention enhancer: reviewing existing assumptions. Psychopharmacology, 225(2), 251-274.

  • Smith, A. (2002). Effects of caffeine on human behavior. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40(9), 1243-1255.

Athletic performance:

  • Grgic, J., Grgic, I., & Pickering, C. (2019). Caffeine ingestion enhances Wingate performance: a meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 49(6), 993-1007.

  • Goldstein, E. R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D., Kreider, R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., ... & Antonio, J. (2010). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 20(1), 1-13.

Sleep quality:

  • Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(11), 1195-1200.


bottom of page