Coffee & Health

France loves coffee! Coffee is the most frequently served drink after water. From breakfast to dinner. 5.8 kg of coffee per year and per inhabitant rank France 8th on the international coffee drinking hit list. Finland is at the top of the list.

Historical background

Before being drunk for pleasure, coffee was drunk throughout the world for its medical virtues. In Europe, apothecaries offered coffee from 1592. Doctors started to prescribe coffee under the name Caova.

Stories of apothecaries

In 18th century Sweden, large quantities of tea and coffee were consumed. Tea fans, coffee fans, it was almost a civil war!! The country was divided over which drink was preferable. King Gustave III decided to end the dispute and launched an experiment: he pardoned two twin brothers condemned to death. On one condition: the two brothers would only consume one drink until the day they died. Tea or coffee, with medical surveillance… As time went by… The doctor died, the president of the Court died, and the good King was assassinated… And the twins? The tea-drinking brother lived until a ripe old age of 83 and the coffee drinker managed 85!

Food for thought and a good reason to agree with Bernard Le Bouyer de Fontenelle, the French author born in 1657, who died a century later in 1757. He was a coffee fan, and claimed that:

If coffee is a poison, it's slow acting



Coffee contains several hundred substances. Its effects are mainly caused by caffeine. Friedrich Ferdinand Runge discovered and isolated caffeine in 1819. Since this time, many studies have focused on caffeine throughout the world. Its effects are globally considered as beneficial.

This molecule, from the alkaloid group, is a chemical which is naturally present in coffee. Tea, maté, and cola also contain coffee.

Caffeine content for an Arabica coffee varies between 0.5 and 1.5%. And between 1.5 and 4% for Robusta.

Caffeine is a natural excitant and stimulates. It is used in some therapeutic treatments for this reason.

Caffeine is odourless and is generally also tasteless. Caffeine can also be very slightly bitter and contribute 10% of the bitter flavour of roasted coffee.

The substance is not very water soluble. Extraction depends on:

- the finesse of the grinding
- water temperature
- infusion time

When drinking coffee in the evening, you are recommended to opt for a strong Arabica rather than a long Robusta.

Caffeine is rapidly absorbed: 20% by the stomach and 80% by the intestine. The half-life of caffeine varies between 4 and 6 hours depending on the individual.

My coffee cup

According to the  Santé et Café News magazine, a 150 ml cup of filter coffee contains:

  • proteins: 0.3 g
  • carbohydrates: 0.2 g
  • traces of lipids
  • potassium: 100 mg, i.e. 10% of RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)
  • polyphenols: 200 - 500 mg
  • PP or B3 vitamins: 5 - 20% of RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)

The effect of caffeine

Sélectionnez dans

la liste ci-dessous l'un des multiples effets de la caféine :

Against migraines

Caffeine is effective against migraines. Used preventively, caffeine also reduces the intensity of the migraines, and enhances the analgesic effect of aspirin.

Caffeine has a vasoconstrictor effect on blood circulation in the brain. However, the blood cells in the brain dilate during a migraine crisis. Drinking coffee as soon as the early signs of a migraine are felt helps counteract this dilation.


Caffeine extends your period of attention and delays the appearance of fatigue. The substance assists with repetitive and intellectual tasks. Caffeine is included in some psycho-stimulants.

It also acts on adenosine receivers in the nervous system. This explains its ability to stimulate intellectual activity, increase concentration and encourage memorisation. 

Caffeine reduces fatigue, increases awareness, and can be used to synchronise the waking/sleep cycle. It improves jet lag recovery. 

The digestive properties of coffee

Coffee helps with digestion: after a meal, it activates the contractions of the intestine and the gall bladder.

It supplies key vitamins and minerals for your body: potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins B5 and B6. With its low calories, coffee stimulates the secretion of pancreatic juice and intestinal transit.

Coffee and diabetes

Type 2 diabetes mellitus, relating to extra weight and lack of activity, is constantly gaining ground in our modern society. The impact of coffee use in combating diabetes has been repeatedly studied.

In 2004, the Journal International de Médecine, published a study on the reduced risk of diabetes in those aged 39-65 due to coffee consumption. 2 to 6 cups of coffee per day can protect both men and women.

The benefits have been proven, although how it works is not yet clear. Is this one of the effects of caffeine? Or an effect of other components, such as potassium, magnesium or chlorogenic acid? 
Questions by the Santé et Café News magazine.

A source of anti-oxidants

Coffee contains anti-oxidants, just like tomatoes, green tea, broccoli, olives and soya beans. In 2005, the congress of the American Chemistry Society performed a study focusing on coffee. This study established that coffee could be the primary source of anti-oxidants.

Oxidants are active components in oxygen and biodegrade biological molecules. The can cause cancers and heart problems. Anti-oxidants are molecules able to neutralise free radicals. They therefore play a defensive role in the membrane or cell.

Coffee contains polyphenols. Chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol, is a powerful natural anti-oxidant. This acid helps to retard the fixation of atheromatous plaques on the arteries, hence delaying the onset of heart disease.

Coffee is the main source of chlorogenic acid in food. Daily coffee intake provides 0.5 - 1 gram. If no coffee is drunk, intake is less than 100 mg.

An ally for the elderly

The feeling of thirst disappears with age. Coffee is therefore a precious ally in combating dehydration. Unless specific recommendations to the contrary exist, regular drinking of small amounts of coffee will ensure minimum hydration. In addition, drinking coffee with breakfast supplies calcium and proteins if milk is added. After lunch, coffee will help with your concentration during digestion.

A Danish study focused on caffeine and the performances of the elderly. It is known that 4 cups of coffee improve performance with young drinkers. In the same way, the endurance of active individuals aged over 70 in good health increased with the consumption of caffeine equivalent to four cups of coffee.

An English study, performed on around sixty volunteers, established that caffeine improved psychomotor performance, brought about a good mood in and improved the awareness of the participants.

An antagonist for Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases

In 2006, two Coffee & Health congresses were held in Ferrare, Italy, and Montpellier, France. Studies were distributed highlighting the protection offered by coffee, against Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, against type 2 diabetes, and against cancers. These findings open up new therapeutical prospects.

Coffee ensures a good mood!

Various studies have proved that coffee doses of 60 - 300 mg - ¾ of a cup to 4 cups - improve the moods of individuals! Coffee drinkers are more bright, energetic and sociable.

And … Coffee & beauty!!

Yes, caffeine is an ingredient in some beauty products: slimming creams, body scrubs.

In Japan, coffee consumption is on the up. The drink is considered to have benefits for the skin. The Japanese take instant coffee powder baths!

Beauty depends on good general health. It is not therefore surprising that caffeine is found in vitamin complexes…

When consumed in reasonable amounts

Coffee has many virtues. It is however necessary to consume coffee in reasonable amounts. Any abuse will have negative effects on the body.

Pregnancy, breast feeding and coffee:

Coffee will not modify the physiological conditions of pregnancy and represents no risk for babies during breast feeding. However, as the foetus eliminates caffeine very slowly, you are recommended to not drink more than two cups per day during pregnancy.

Heart, stomach and liver disease:

Coffee is not recommended in case of heart or stomach disorders.

The effects of caffeine may also be modified by: genetic factors, taking certain drugs, hepatic disorders, age.

Just what is normal consumption?

What is the best threshold for enjoying coffee and benefitting from its positive effects? Specialists agree that five cups a day should be considered a maximum.