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Coffee Trivia: All About Your Caffeinated Cup

Coffee Trivia: All About Your Caffeinated Cup

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Barista headaches, the cost of specialty drinks, and cheating coffee drinkers (really) — we have it all

It's almost National Coffee Day, and we have the breakdown of your pour-over cup in the morning, Starbucks trips, and the need for caffeine.

Thanks to some surveys from Nescafé and the Ashley Madison website (yes, really), the findings about your daily caffeine buzz may surprise you.

From Nescafé's survey:

• Americans spend more than $400 per year on "specialty" coffee drinks: the equivalent of a six-night Carnival Cruise.

• One in three specialty coffee drinkers have gotten an eye roll from a barista just for making a special request in their order.

• On average, specialty coffee drinkers spend seven minutes per day in line waiting for their drinks — or 2,555 minutes per year. That’s almost two entire days each year spent looking at the back of a stranger’s head.

• No surprise here: 92 percent of specialty coffee drinkers feel that beverages at coffee shops are overpriced!

• Two out of five coffee drinkers incorrectly think that a cupcake has more calories than their specialty café drink.

From the Ashley Madison website:

The extramarital website,, surveyed 12,000 "straying spouses" and found that 84 percent of them were "coffee fiends." The average member on the site drinks about 4 1/2 cups per day, and prefers their coffee black. "Cheating hearts seem to run on caffeine, needing to be stimulated in more ways than one," said Noel Biderman, founder and CEO of, in a release. Thanks for the advice — now we know what to look out for.

Quiz: The Truth About Coffee

Harvard School of Public Health: Coffee by the Numbers.

International Coffee Association: "Caffeine," "Botanical Aspects."

Jaeggi, T. Caries Research, November-December 1999.

NASA: "Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Estimates."

National Coffee Association: "How to Store Coffee," "The History of Coffee." "Coffee is Number One Source of Antioxidants."

ScienceDaily: "Decaffeinated Coffee is Not Caffeine-Free, Experts Say."

Shellis, R. European Journal of Oral Sciences, June 2005.

University of Guelph: "New research explains structure, taste of Kopi Luwak coffee."

USDA Economic Service: "Coffee Consumption Over the Last Century."

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

The Ancient Tea Horse Road

This 6th-Century trade route mostly ran through Yunnan, Sichuan, and Tibet. The people of the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces exchanged tea for horses with people in Tibet, giving the road its name.

This trade route stretched almost 1,400 miles (2,250 kilometers) and was one of the harshest trails in Asia. At the time, it took about three months and they had to traverse four deadly passes that stretched to 1,700 feet (520 meters) in height. This was all to exchange 130 pounds (60 kilograms) of tea for a single horse.

Which “Coffee Prince” Character Are You?

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

When you feel the negative side effects of caffeine, you might want to lower your intake. If you're afraid to go cold turkey on coffee you can drink decaf, which has much less caffeine than regular coffee.

The concern with decaf doesn't seem to be the coffee itself — it's how the caffeine is extracted. On the surface it seems worrisome, because chemicals are often used. Decaf coffee has caffeine, but only a very small amount. In order to qualify as decaf, the beans must have 97 percent of their caffeine removed.

The decaffeination process was pioneered by Ludwig Roselius, who originally soaked green, unroasted coffee beans in water to extract caffeine. He then used benzene to more efficiently extract the caffeine.

Indeed, water was the original tool to extract caffeine from coffee beans. The problem is that it not only sucks out the caffeine, it sucks out other chemicals that give coffee taste and color.

Coffee is a rich, flavorful ingredient, and these 8 sweet and savory recipes prove it

My coffee beverage consumption consists of an occasional sip of my boyfriend’s daily pour-over and an espresso perhaps once a year. It’s not that I don’t like a good cup — I love coffee’s bitter, toasty aromas and taste — but I simply can’t handle, and don’t want, the slap of caffeine and the inevitable crash.

But coffee as an ingredient allows me to enjoy it without the effects of a full cup. In dessert, coffee is often used to deepen chocolate flavors in savory meals, you can find it in rubs, marinades, barbecue sauces and more. I pulled some recipes from our archives in which coffee plays a key role. You’ll see many desserts, and even a savory preparation, using whole coffee beans to impart flavor. Not seeing the right recipe for you, or looking for coffee drinks instead? Search “coffee” in our Recipe Finder.

Tiramisu, pictured above. We’ve all had bad tiramisu, but this one is oh-so-good. As is traditional to the dessert, you soak ladyfingers in strong coffee or espresso.

How does coffee impact weight loss in general?

There&rsquos not a clear yes or no on whether coffee helps or hurts weight loss&mdashor affects it at all. There have been studies supporting the idea that drinking coffee stimulates weight loss, but not enough of 'em to make it a commonly agreed upon scientific fact. Plus, some recent studies have suggested there are negative effects of drinking coffee, which may or may not cancel out the positive effects. Here's what some recent studies say.

Research that points to coffee aiding weight loss:

  • Caffeine may stimulate brown adipose tissue, or the fat in your body that burns calories, per a 2019 study in Scientific Reports. Essentially, researchers discovered that drinking one cup of coffee increases your metabolic rate to the point that brown adipose tissue activity occurs, leading to fat-burning and weight loss.
  • People who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee per day saw a 4 percent decrease in body fat, according to 2020 findings by Harvard public health researchers that were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study&rsquos authors suspect this is because drinking coffee increases a person&rsquos metabolic rate (which can cause an increase in the number of calories burned).
  • Caffeinated mate tea extract was found to reduce the incidence of weight gain and body fat accumulation in a 2020 study in rats in the Journal of Functional Foods. The same results weren&rsquot seen with decaffeinated extract (suggesting it&rsquos the caffeine in mate, at least, that promotes weight loss). But remember, you're not a rat! The findings in humans could be different.

Research that points to coffee hindering weight loss:

  • Drinking caffeinated coffee has been linked to an increase in sugar cravings, meaning that your a.m. cup could be setting you up for making bad snack choices later on in your day (and preventing you from losing weight). A 2017 study in the Journal of Food Science showed that drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee messed with people&rsquos taste buds, particularly their interpretation of sweetness.
  • Drinking coffee even six hours before bedtime can cause sleep disturbances, per a 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. This has broader impacts than making you extra sleepy: poor or insufficient sleep has been repeatedly linked to weight gain.

So what does this mixed bag of studies mean for your health? Basically, if you like to drink coffee, feel free to drink a reasonable amount of it. There's no conclusive evidence to support coffee for&mdashor against&mdashweight loss. So if your coffee habit suits you, go for it. Just don&rsquot hang your weight-loss goals on your caffeine intake, because no one knows for sure whether there&rsquos a connection.

How much coffee is okay? &ldquoI would suggest drinking the amount of coffee that you want to&mdashassuming that it falls at or below 400 milligrams of caffeine daily,&rdquo says Gorin. &ldquoSo that amount can be zero cups or up to five cups of certain types of coffee, [remembering that] other sources of caffeine, such as green tea, count toward that daily intake.&rdquo

Wait, I&rsquove heard of something called the Coffee Diet. What is that?

The Coffee Diet originated with Bob Arnot, MD, an internist who wrote a book called The Coffee Lover's Diet: Change Your Coffee, Change Your Life (published in 2017). In it, he explains why he thinks coffee is basically a health food as long as you choose the right kind and balance out your coffee consumption with healthy, whole foods.

Dr. Arnot recommends dieters drink at least three cups of black coffee a day, claiming health benefits like mood improvement, higher energy levels, a faster metabolism, and&mdashof course&mdashweight loss. He says that certain types of coffee (like light roast, not dark roast) and the overall quality of your beans (including where they were sourced) are more likely to have a better impact on your health.

In general, drinking anywhere from zero to five cups of coffee per day (if you don't load up on sweetener and milk!) is probably fine if you're trying to lose weight.

As far as whether or not the Coffee Diet works, it&rsquos a little tricky to figure out if the coffee itself is to thank for weight-loss results, or if one of the other elements involved with the diet, like reducing caloric intake to 1,500 calories a day and eating cleaner, less processed foods, is the cause. Plus, the amount of calories consumed on the coffee diet may lead you to shed pounds initially but have trouble keeping the weight off long-term.

Finally, although the Coffee Diet doesn&rsquot tell you to drink excessive amounts of caffeine per day, it wouldn&rsquot be too hard to accidentally overdo it and wind up with heart palpitations, headaches, or trouble sleeping. &ldquoIt can be dangerous to consume caffeine in large amounts, and I would suggest taking in no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day,&rdquo advises Gorin, who explains that&rsquos equal to about three to five cups of regular coffee.

Caffeine and Estrogen

A study in the October 2001 issue of "Fertility and Sterility" found that more than one cup of coffee a day increased estrogen in women between the ages of 36 and 45 in the first stage of the menstrual cycle. In a study reported in the June 2005 issue of "Cancer," caffeine intake decreased estradiol, one of the forms of estrogen, during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Both caffeinated coffee and caffeinated tea had this effect. The researchers thought caffeine might inhibit aromatase, a key enzyme in the production of estrogen in the body.

Best Coffee Pods: The Original Donut Shop Decaf Medium Roast K-Cup Pods

Available in-store and online at various big-name retailers, The Original Donut Shop is a favorite among Keurig owners, beloved by many for providing quick cups of top-grade coffee. Take that same great coffee, subtract the caffeine, and you get the best decaf coffee pods on the market.

Fresh and flavorful, The Original Donut Shop makes their decaf roast extra bold, packing in even more Arabica beans than they do in their regular coffee. And even though taste buds vary and coffee preferences can be polarizing, this product has received widespread praise for being just as full-bodied as regular coffee.


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