Caffeine: the chemical responsible for getting millions of people to work on time and making every morning tolerable, with 85% of the world drinking a caffeinated product every day. But what is caffeine? Caffeine is a stimulant that works with your brain and nervous system to prevent lethargy and exhaustion, increasing your adrenaline and cortisol circulation. After traveling from your gut to your bloodstream, the liver is responsible for breaking down the compounds of the caffeine. Caffeine keeps you awake by anchoring to the adenosine receptors (the chemical that makes you tired) in your brain but not activating them. This inhibits the effects of adenosine, resulting in reduced feelings of sleepiness. So, where is caffeine found?
Caffeine in its purest form is a natural, white alkaloid powder that’s found in multiple plants primarily native to South America. Caffeine, weirdly enough, negatively affects the nervous system of insects- causing growth abnormalities and disturbances. Naturally caffeinated plants encourage honey bees to pollinate and prevent other types of plant seeds near them from successfully germinating. Synthetic and natural caffeine are identical on a chemical level, but our bodies absorb natural caffeine slower; synthetic caffeine is found inside sodas and certain energy drinks.
The most recognizable forms of naturally occurring caffeine are:
- Coffea arabica, which makes up 75% of the world’s coffee production, is native to Ethiopia and areas of Africa with a tropical climate.
- Coffea canephora, which makes up 20% of the world’s coffee production, is native to central and western sub-Saharan Africa.
- Cola acuminata produces the Kola nut fruit and is used to flavor Cola products, most notably Coca-Cola.
- Theobroma cacao is the cacao tree that produces the cacao seeds used in the production of chocolate products (candy bars, liquor) and cocoa butter.
Caffeine can reduce a person’s susceptibility to heart disease when consumed in moderate amounts. Aside from stimulating our brain, caffeine also raises our metabolic rate. Studies are split on whether or not caffeine naturally has this effect on people’s bodies or if due to caffeine reducing fatigue in people; consuming it encourages exercise. There are also pre-workout powders that contain caffeine that can prolong a person’s stamina when working out. For example, coffee or tea are oftentimes used in intermittent fasting to placate hunger until the eating window resumes.
The FDA recommends that adults only consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day. That’s around five cups of coffee, two 5-hour energy shots, four Red Bulls, or 11 cans of Coke. Choose wisely! Routinely exceeding this recommended amount can cause dehydration, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, a fast heart rate, heartburn, restlessness, and shakiness. “In the Beneficial and Adverse Effects Of Caffeine Consumption on Human Body: a Comprehensive Review” is a bibliographic survey done in 2019 to understand the most common risks and benefits associated with caffeine consumption. The conclusion of this survey found that by consuming less than 450 mg of caffeine a day, “caffeine can act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and regulator for certain important metabolic pathways.” Alternatively, when more than 450 mg of caffeine a day is consumed, there can be numerous health risks to the “nervous, cardiovascular, renal, and hepatic systems.”
As with all good things, all caffeinated products must be consumed in moderation. Caffeine can also interact poorly with certain medications for the heart, asthma, antibiotics, or stimulants, so be sure to double-check before consumption. If you’re extra sensitive to caffeine and its effects, try decaffeinated options! Despite the name, decaf drinks are not completely caffeine-free. On average, one 8-ounce cup of decaf coffee has two to fifteen milligrams of caffeine compared to a caffeinated 8-ounce cup of coffee that has 80 to 100 milligrams.
If you’re in need of a hefty dose of caffeine, try one of our medium roasts for a masterful balance of powerful caffeination and robust flavor. We recommend the citrusy Costa Rican “La Minita” medium roast with a sweet finish or the buttery smooth “Colombian Supremo” java roast, which has raisin and vanilla notes.
Share your opinion on the roasts with us in the comments below, on our Instagram page @sheldrakecoffee or tag us using the hashtag #SheldrakeCoffee!