Coffee Consumption Less Dangerous

Lexie Reinecke, Staff Writer

We’ve all heard it. People in Lamorinda venture to Starbucks frequently, especially those academically anxious students who need their daily caffeine fix.

A tall coffee here, a tall coffee there, maybe a Venti coffee on a particularly overwhelming pre-test evening. I’m not even shaking from it, and look at my grades right now!

We not only want caffeine, we need it. Whether it’s a placebo effect that gets us working, or we actually require the energy boost, coffee is something I think many of us can say we rely on.

Let’s place the GPA obsession aside for a minute. Yes, caffeine may have brought your Chemistry grade up three percent, but before you go praising the next barista you see, let’s talk about how good this coffee crazy really is for you.

We’ve all heard parents caution against coffee. I myself have been warned that if I don’t cut down my frequent Starbucks trips, I will forever stunt my growth. (God forbid I don’t grow to be 5’10!) You’ve probably heard something similar. But how much of this parents-against-coffee thing is fact and how much is fiction?

According to, in medieval times, coffee was considered a drug, and outlawed across many countries in Europe. However, the website says caffeine in moderation is actually good for kids today. According to researcher Dr. Thomas DePaulis, “parents who keep their kids as far away from coffee as possible could be wrong. . . it can help improve concentration and may help children do a little better on tests for this reason.”

KidzWorld also says, “In an interesting finding from Brazil, kids who drink coffee with milk are less likely to have depression than other children.”

Website and famous Discovery Channel show HowStuffWorks has a similar message. They emphasize that caffeine, like anything else, is acceptable in moderation and dangerous in excess. Their post on the subject reads, “caffeine does not stunt children’s growth” and recommends, “teaching your kids to be responsible coffee drinkers.”

So if coffee really isn’t bad, why has it been characterized as such by many in our culture?

It turns out, the anti-coffee craze isn’t the life’s work of a Whole Foods shopper, a gluten-free fan, or even an overly protective parent. The fight against coffee in America began almost a century ago with head of Post Cereal.

According to Jordan Weissmann’s 2013 Atlantic article, “the idea that coffee is bad for youngsters was actually a myth first propagated by the early 20th century cereal Tycoon, C.W. Post.” In an attempt to sell his brand’s coffee substitute, Postum, Post spread  rumors that coffee was detrimental to the health of children.

Post even went as far as to create an evil cartoon character called Mr. Coffee, and produced ads which said “[Coffee] robs children of their rosy cheek and sparkling eyes.” And the best part? According to the Atlantic, the man was neither researcher, doctor nor scientist.

A similar article for Smithsonian Magazine  says, “Postum made C.W. Post a fortune, and he became a millionaire from vilifying coffee, and saying how horrible it was for you. The Postum advertisers had all kinds of pseudoscientific reasons that you should stay away from coffee.”

What’s that mean for today’s anti-coffee craze? That stuff your parents tell you about coffee stunting your growth is straight from a businessman’s devious attempt to sell a cereal drink.

Nutritionist Dr. Mark Hyman says, “Coffee is the single biggest source of antioxidants in the American diet. Researchers claim it can prevent Parkinson’s and ward off Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and depression. It can help with focusing and reading and may make you more productive.”

Dr. Mary L. Gavin agrees, “Coffee doesn’t stunt your growth. But coffee does contain caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system. For most people, a cup or two of coffee a day doesn’t do any harm.”

Alright, so coffee actually isn’t that bad for kids.

In moderation, coffee isn’t bad for anyone. But how about in excess? says, “Caffeine is defined as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system … In both kids and adults too much caffeine can cause: nervousness, upset stomach, headaches, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, “It is possible for a person to die from too much caffeine,” but it would take drinking about “140 8-ounce cups of coffee in one day.” They continue, “If you’re drinking under four cups a day and not having any side effects, then you’re probably OK.”

What’s this mean for you and your coffee-guzzling study habits? Go ahead.  If your parents are being particularly cautious with your drink money, remind them Mr. Coffee’s not coming to get you. The difference between you and your giraffe-legged cousin has nothing to do with your caffeine intake.