Please Explain: Caffeine

Friday, August 13, 2010

This week's Please Explain will answer all of our caffeine-related questions, from whether or not we should drink coffee before we run a marathon to how caffeine differs from other stimulants. Bennett Alan Weinberg, co-author of the book The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug, explains how the world's most popular drug affects us.

Do you have a question about how caffeine affects you? Ask it as a comment!


Bennett Alan Weinberg

Comments [35]

Bennett Alan Weinberg from Philadelphia

I was the guest interviewed about Caffeine on the Leonard Lopate Show. Now I've started the best caffeine website on the Internet:
Check it out!

Mar. 22 2011 10:29 PM
Carol from Ohio

I have experienced an adverse reaction to Quinine Water. Now my coffee in the AM also causes great sweating. Even 1/2 a cup. Is there a coffee that does NOT have quinine or is just a part of the caffeine?

Nov. 10 2010 03:46 PM
jan cole

Two or three cups a day. I'm 73 is that too much

Aug. 21 2010 02:51 PM

Response to several: Yes, caffeine can, in some poeple, affect their bowel movements, which can make it a tasty laxative! Just adjust your intake amount until your bowels are comfy!

Caffeine may not turn you into a pompous twit, but, as a preventative, I would suggest staying away from Starbucks. THerein usually reside3 those who think they are choosing a place that sells good coffee. Their coffee is not strong, robust and good - just old and bitter when it is not tasteless.

Aug. 13 2010 07:12 PM

[[allison from manhattan - Can caffeine negatively affect your bowl movement rthym? Aug. 13 2010 01:54 PM]]

Yes. You can expect your score to drop by at least ten points and at least one more gutterball per game.

Aug. 13 2010 02:02 PM
Steve from NJ

I wouldn't say coffee has no effect on me, because I feel a lift when I drink it, but it does not keep me up even if I drink it close to bed time. I drink anywhere between 6 to 12 cups of coffee a day on average, and I am in relatively good health. Above all I love the taste and the aroma of coffee. I am so glad to hear the many benefits of coffee (of course I already knew about many) instead of the negative aspects.

Aug. 13 2010 01:58 PM

When I wake up I am fairly clear headed and pragmatic. After I have a cup of coffee I feel I can take on the world and everything is going to go fabulously my way. A huge swing from reasonably optimistic to the rosiest of rose colored glasses. Is this something I should be concerned about? How is this any different than making my daily and long range decisions after ingesting mushrooms or any other mind altering substance?

Aug. 13 2010 01:57 PM
sarah from philadelphia

I may be hitting on a similar theme here, but green tea has always given me a headache. I love coffee and have no trouble drinking it, but I could never figure out why green tea gave me a problem. Could it be an allergy?

Aug. 13 2010 01:55 PM
allison from manhattan

Can caffeine negatively affect your bowl movement rthym?

Aug. 13 2010 01:54 PM
Mary from Flatbush

You mentioned that people should keep coffee away from dogs--what about cats? My cat freaks out when a coffee bean drops on the floor. Is there something in coffee particularly attractive to cats?

Aug. 13 2010 01:53 PM
Mary from Flatbush

You mentioned that people should keep coffee away from dogs--what about cats? My cat freaks out when a coffee bean drops on the floor. Is there something in coffee particularly attractive to cats?

Aug. 13 2010 01:52 PM
Joe DiMaggio

Is it true that caffeine will turn me into a pompous twit with elaborate coffee drink order requirements?

Aug. 13 2010 01:52 PM

why wait for a study if you have any doubt at all about any chance of derailing your baby's development? There are thousands of chemicals that a baby is exposed to unstudied, let alone how they work in synergy

Aug. 13 2010 01:48 PM
Juan Valdes

Does caffeine decay if coffee is stored improperly, say, in a can on a store shelf for weeks on end?

Aug. 13 2010 01:47 PM
Francisco from LA

What about the effects of caffeine on temporary impairment of short term memory?


Aug. 13 2010 01:47 PM
Jim Susko from NJ

I seem to react stronger to tea than to coffee . (Tea keeps me up more than cofee.) I drinks several cups of coffee a day.) Is possible that I have developed a tolerance to the Caffine in coffee but NOT to the caffine in Tea?

Aug. 13 2010 01:45 PM
Tim from Hell's Kitchen

I love this guy. I'm so glad I can count caffeine as one of my dearest friends. Raise a cup!

Aug. 13 2010 01:44 PM

If you have adreanal burnout, coffee. like sugar, isn't such a good idea

Aug. 13 2010 01:44 PM

A heart-related question: if one has atrial filbrillation, is it necessary to give up coffee?

Aug. 13 2010 01:43 PM
Chock full of Questions

Where did the word "caffeine" come from? Is it just a coincidence that it sounds like "coffee"?

Aug. 13 2010 01:40 PM
Munira from Manhattan

My parents have been drinking strong Ethiopian coffee two to three times a day for all their lives. My mother, who is now in her sixities, was just diagnosed with hypertension. I don't know if this has anything to do with the coffee that she has been drinking. What is your comment about the relationship between coffee and HTN?

Aug. 13 2010 01:38 PM
Buzz Aldrin

How does the roasting process affect caffein? Does a darker roast burn off caffein? Does espresso have more caffein than a cup of drip coffee made from the same bean?

Aug. 13 2010 01:36 PM
Kazimierz Strankowski from New York

Why do alot of people believe that tea has more caffeine than coffee? Is this a great PR stunt?


Aug. 13 2010 01:35 PM
Nancy Tuck from Fire Island, NY

Is it true that caffeine depletes calcium in the body?

Aug. 13 2010 01:33 PM

Coffee is from Ethiopia. It seems that all things from Africa are mysteriously forgotten as to their originand their relevance to the continent. The region it was found was Kaffa...sounds relatively close to coffee. doesn't it. No, the origin of the name is not European and not German, and neither is the coffee arabia correctly detailing its origin.

Aug. 13 2010 01:32 PM

I heard that some women with fibrocystic breasts are better to limit their use of caffeine. Can your guest comment on that?

Aug. 13 2010 01:32 PM
Caffeine-free from New York

Is caffeine a diurettic for everyone?
How does it make my heart beat faster and why do I feel it pound harder?

Aug. 13 2010 01:31 PM
JP from NJ

Please ask how bad does coffee dehydrate you?

Aug. 13 2010 01:31 PM
Matt from Ridgewood, New Jersey

A friend once claimed that "A cup of tea has more caffeine than a cup of coffee." Is this true?

Aug. 13 2010 01:30 PM

How do you get decaffeinated coffee? Is caffeine naturally found in coffee?

Aug. 13 2010 01:25 PM

[[skimpy from nyc - is there a link between caffeine and monthly menstrual pains? Aug. 13 2010 10:55 AM]]

Goodness! I certainly hope not!

Aug. 13 2010 12:54 PM
karen from Brooklyn, NY

I sometimes take a 5-hour energy drink to try and stay awake, but it doesn't work. Coffee has no effect on me either. If anything, coffee makes me sleepy. What could cause this opposite effect?

Aug. 13 2010 12:16 PM
Frank DeGregorie

Can too much caffeine at one time cause a heart attack?

New to the world of coffee I was using 3 heaping tablespoons of ground coffee for one cup and experienced heart fluttering.

Aug. 13 2010 11:53 AM
Steve M from Morristown


Per the nfp Center for Science in the Public Interest website:

Caffeine is the only drug that is present naturally or added to widely consumed foods (quinine is the other drug used in foods). It is mildly addictive, one possible reason that makers of soft drinks add it to their products. Many coffee drinkers experience withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, irritability, sleepiness, and lethargy, when they stop drinking coffee.

Because caffeine increases the risk of miscarriages (and possibly birth defects) and inhibits fetal growth, it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. It also may make it harder to get pregnant.

Caffeine also keeps many people from sleeping, causes jitteriness, and affects calcium metabolism.

The caffeine in a standard cup or two of coffee is harmless to most people. But if you drink more than a couple of cups of coffee or cans of caffeine-containing soda per day, experience symptoms noted above, are at risk of osteoporosis, or are pregnant, you should rethink your habit. Note that some "energy" drinks contain far more caffeine than most soft drinks.

Aug. 13 2010 11:02 AM
skimpy from nyc

is there a link between caffeine and monthly menstrual pains?

Aug. 13 2010 10:55 AM

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