Latin Name
Coffea arabica
Other Common Names
Herbal Actions (Column)
Cover Image

What is Coffee?

Coffee is one of the most beloved herbs in the world — and for good reason.
Some reports suggest as many as 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day around the world.
The only other herb that could even come close to rivaling this number is tea (Camellia sinensis) — which is around 2.16 billion cups per day.
Coffee is loved for its rich, earthy flavor, and stimulating effects. The active ingredient, caffeine, inhibits chemicals in the brain designed to make us feel tired. It also activates areas of the central nervous system associated with the fight or flight response.
There are four species of coffee — Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica.
However, the most common is Coffee arabica (75% of the market) due to the pleasant flavor profile, relatively high caffeine content, and reliable yields.
Coffea robusta (Coffea caniphora) is also used to make coffee and has a higher caffeine content to arabica plants — but with the downside of having a strong bitter flavor. Robusta coffee makes up roughly 20% of the market today. You’re likely to find a robusta-arabica mix in places like 24/hour diners, hotel lobby, or other places using cheaper coffee.
Coffea liberica is much less common, responsible for roughly 2% of the entire coffee market. These plants are much taller than arabica plants (up to 18 m tall). The added height of the trees makes them harder and more expensive to harvest, but the deep taproot system enables these plants to survive drought more easily.
Lately, there’s been a surge in interest for Coffea liberica plants among farmers in regions where Coffea arabica plants have been decimated by coffee rust disease.
The last species — Excelsa is no longer considered a species of its own, but a variant of Coffea liberica. However, we still consider this a different plant because of the distinct differences between excelsa plants and liberica plants in terms of flavor content. Excelsa has much more front-palate flavors (fruity, tart, sweet), while liberica is more of a back palate plant (bitter, earthy).

What Else is Coffee Known As?

  • Café
  • Espresso
  • Java
  • Mocha
  • Joe

Herbal Actions/Properties of Coffee

  • Antioxidant
  • Blood Glucose Regulator
  • Bronchodilator
  • Cardiotonic
  • Diuretic
  • Eugeroic
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Hypertensive/Hypotensive (tolerance dependant)
  • Nootropic
  • Stimulant

What is Coffee Used For?

Coffee is primarily used for its stimulating effects on the mind and body. In modern society, the drink has become a popular ritual in the morning.
People use coffee to ward off fatigue and sleepiness — something just about everybody on earth can make use of from time to time.
Coffee is also used to curb symptoms of altitude sickness, for asthma, to increase blood pressure in hypotensive people, and as a nootropic to support focus and concentration while studying.

How Does Coffee Work?

The active ingredient, caffeine, inhibits a compound in the brain known as adenosine. Throughout the day, adenosine builds up in the brain. These adenosine molecules bind to the neurons and cause a delay in electrical transmission.
If the neurons transmit electrical signals slower as a result of adenosine, overall brain activity slows — making us feel tired and can make it hard to stay focused.
Caffeine inhibits the effects of adenosine by removing it from its receptors in the brain and blocking free receptors so adenosine can no longer bind. This effectively reverses the effects of adenosine, making us feel alert and awake for about 6 hours until the caffeine wears off.
Caffeine also stimulates the adrenergic receptors in the heart, lungs, and brain — which activates the fight or flight response to make us feel alert and awake within minutes.

Folklore & History of Coffee

Coffee has been used for thousands of years, starting in Ethiopia where coffee was thought to have first originated. Here it was used to increase mental acuity before a hunt, and during ceremonies and social gatherings to enable drinkers to stay up all night.
Outside of Ethiopia, coffee became popular in the Arab world in the form of newly innovated coffee houses. These coffee shops were a place for men (women were banned) to socialize and discuss politics and business over a cup of coffee. Cairo, Egypt became the epicenter for coffee culture by the end of the 17th century.
European travelers passing through Cairo and other Arab cities eventually brought the plant home where new coffee shops were eventually created.

Coffee Side-Effects & Safety

The active ingredient in coffee has a lot of benefits by stimulating the central nervous system — but these benefits can also result in some negatives if consumed in higher doses.
The main side-effects of coffee include anxiety, muscle tension and jitteriness, insomnia, nausea, and digestive cramping.
It’s recommended you avoid coffee (and caffeine in general) if you suffer from high blood pressure or late-stage heart disease.
notion image

Coffee Research

  1. Teas, Cocoa and Coffee : Plant Secondary Metabolites and Health. — 2016
  1. Coffee Consumption and Cardiovascular Health — 2015
  1. Associations of ambulatory blood pressure with urinary caffeine and caffeine metabolite excretions. — 2015
  1. Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases. A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. — 2014
  1. Letter: coffee and chronic liver damage. — 2014
  1. Contributions of metabolic dysregulation and inflammation to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatic fibrosis, and cancer. — 2014
  1. The impact of green tea and coffee consumption on the reduced risk of stroke incidence in Japanese population. — 2013
  1. The impact of coffee on health. Maturitas. — 2013
  1. Effects of habitual coffee consumption and cardiometabolic disease, cardiovascular health, and all-cause mortality. — 2013
  1. Effects of habitual coffee consumption and cardiometabolic disease, cardiovascular health, and all-cause mortality. — 2013
  1. Coffee, chronic diseases and cancer. — 2013
  1. Coffee consumption in NAFLD patients with lower insulin resistance is associated with lower risk of severe fibrosis. — 2013
  1. Coffee consumption and cardiovascular health: getting to the heart of the matter. — 2013
  1. Bioappearance and pharmacokinetics of bioactives upon coffee consumption. — 2013
  1. Association of coffee consumption with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality. — 2013
  1. The effect of coffee consumption on blood pressure and the development of hyper- tension: a systematic review and meta-analysis. — 2012
  1. Role of coffee in modulation of diabetes risk. — 2012
  1. Habitual coffee consumption and risk of heart failure. A dose-response meta-analysis. — 2012
  1. Faster but not smarter: effects of caffeine and caffeine withdrawal on alertness and performance. — 2012
  1. Crude caffeine reduces memory impair- ment and amyloid β1-42 levels in an Alzheimer’s mouse model. — 2012
  1. Coffee consumption and risk of chronic disease in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). — 2012
  1. Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality. — 2012
  1. Antihypertensive effects and mechanisms of chlorogenic acids. — 2012
  1. The use of green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials. — 2011
  1. The effect of coffee on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in hypertensive individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. — 2011
  1. Habitual coffee con- sumption and risk of hypertension: a systematic review and meta- analysis of prospective observational studies. — 2011
  1. Greater coffee intake in men is associated with steeper age-related increases in blood pressure. — 2011
  1. Coffee consumption and the risk of heart failure in Finnish men and women. — 2011
  1. Coffee consumption and risk of stroke: a dose- response meta-analysis. — 2011
  1. Coffee consumption and mortality in women with car- diovascular disease. — 2011
  1. Caffeine synergizes with another coffee component to increase plasma GCSF: Linkage to cognitive benefits in Alzheimer’s Mice. — 2011
  1. Tea and coffee consumption and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. — 2010
  1. Coffee consumption but not green tea consumption is associated with adiponectin levels in Japanese males. — 2010
  1. Coffee consumption and mortality due to all causes, cardio- vascular disease, and cancer in Japanese women. — 2010
  1. Caffeine intake and dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis. — 2010
  1. Adiponectin in insulin resistance: lessons from trans- lational research. — 2010
  1. Coffee consumption is associated with higher plasma adiponectin concentrations in women with or without type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study. — 2008
  1. The effect of chlorogenic acid enriched coffee on glucose absorption in healthy volunteers and its effect on body mass when used long-term in over- weight and obese people. — 2007
  1. Svetol®, green coffee extract, induces weight loss and increases the lean to fat mass ratio in volunteers with overweight problem. — 2006
  1. Excess risk of fatal coronary heart disease associated with diabetes in men and women: meta-analysis of 37 prospective cohort studies. — 2006
  1. Content of redox-active com- pounds (i.e., antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States. — 2006
  1. Coffee consumption and risk of total and cardiovas- cular mortality among patients with type 2 diabetes. — 2006
  1. Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation. — 2005
  1. Effects of green tea on weight maintenance after body-weight loss. — 2004
  1. Coffee consumption, type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in Swedish men and women. — 2004
  1. Coffee consumption and incidence of impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, and type 2 diabetes: the Hoorn Study. — 2004
  1. Coffee consumption and glucose tolerance status in middle-aged Japanese men. — 2004
  1. Total antioxidant capacity of plant foods, beverages and oils consumed in Italy assessed by three different in vitro assays. — 2003
  1. The effects of diabetes on the risks of major cardiovascular diseases and death in the Asia-Pacific region. — 2003
  1. CONSERVATION: Caffeine and Conservation. — 2003
  1. A molecular mechanism of action of theophylline: Induction of histone deacetylase activity to decrease inflammatory gene expression. — 2002
  1. The Essence of Commodification: Caffeine Dependencies in the Early Modern World. — 2001
  1. Caffeine as a lipolytic food component increases endurance performance in rats and athletes. — 2001
  1. Paraxanthine, a caffeine metabolite, dose dependently increases [Ca2+]i in skeletal muscle. — 2000
  1. Antioxidant ability of caffeine and its metabolites based on the study of oxygen radical absorbing capacity and inhibition of LDL peroxidation. — 2000
  1. Polyphenols: chemistry, dietary sources, metabolism, and nutritional significance. — 1998
  1. Coffee induced thermogenesis and skin temperature. — 1994
  1. Antioxidant behaviour of caffeine: efficient scavenging of hydroxyl radicals. — 1991
  1. Misreading of DNA templates containing 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine at the modified base and at adjacent residues. — 1987
  1. Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. — 1978
  1. Greater coffee intake in men is associated with steeper age-related increases in blood pressure. — 2011

Other Resources

  1. [2012] Medical Toxicology of Drugs Abuse: Synthesized Chemicals and Psychoactive Plants.
  1. [2005] The healing power of rainforest herbs: A guide to understanding and using herbal medicinals.
  1. [2003] A modern herbal — Coffee