Is Coffee Bad for You?

Coffee is a popular and common pick-me-up beverage across the world. In fact, about 90% of adults drink caffeinated beverages every day. Fortunately, research has found some connections between coffee consumption and improved health. It may not be suitable for everyone, though.

Learn more about coffee's impact on your health, daily consumption recommendations, and what to look out for in certain coffee drinks.

Close up of a woman holding a cup of coffee.

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Is Coffee Unhealthy or Healthy?

Due to the beverage's popularity, coffee has often been the subject of many studies that explore how it impacts your health and well-being.

Potential Health Benefits

In general, caffeine (often a component of coffee) can increase performance. But caffeine isn't the only property in a brewed cup that may impact your health. Once coffee beans are roasted, they contain over 1,000 bioactive compounds. Roasted beans are associated with some antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.

That said, how coffee impacts your health varies by brewing method, amount consumed, bean type, and even the grinding setting. With that in mind, a few benefits have been associated with coffee consumption.

Drinking coffee may reduce the risk of certain health conditions, including:

However, the amount and type of coffee you drink matter to reap any benefits from coffee. A review of several studies published in 2021 shows a 9% reduction in depression risk for people drinking four or more cups of coffee daily. Similarly, people who drink about three to five cups of coffee daily are most likely to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

What's more, the benefits of coffee may not be due to the caffeine component alone but rather something else in coffee. For example, one study found that risk reduction for diabetes was present for those who consumed both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

Possible Downsides to Coffee Consumption

In general, anyone who has too much caffeine from coffee or other sources may end up feeling anxious or jittery, or with an upset stomach. Coffee may also keep you up at night, as it stays in the body for hours after your last sip and can interfere with sleep.

Pregnant people with high caffeine intake may be at risk for low birth weight, premature birth, and even pregnancy loss compared to those who consume it in moderation.

Excess caffeine has also been found to increase bone fracture risk, especially in women.

In addition, researchers have found that coffee consumption may make it harder for older people who have hypertension (high blood pressure) to control their blood pressure. Others may experience an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm) from it.

People with certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease, may experience a worsening of their condition.

Though not all researchers agree, some people have experienced an increase in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), considered "bad" cholesterol, when drinking unfiltered coffee prepared in a French press or a percolator. High levels of LDL can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Coffee may also interact with certain medications.

Caffeinated vs. Decaffeinated Coffee

Caffeinated coffee has about 80–100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per cup, while decaffeinated coffee contains about 5–12 mg.

Many researchers have studied whether coffee's caffeine content affects its health benefits. It's been determined that coffee's bioactive properties are retained when caffeine is removed from the beans to make decaffeinated coffee. Bioactive properties are the components of coffee that contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The Verdict on Everyday Consumption

Experts recommend a daily limit of 400 mg of caffeine for adults. This comes to about four 8-ounce cups of coffee daily, typically containing 80–100 mg per cup.

Pregnant people are advised to limit their caffeine intake to 200 mg daily (about two 8-ounce cups of coffee). It's unclear whether ingesting more would pose health risks.

While there are no specific guidelines for child and adolescent consumption, pediatric experts generally do not recommend stimulants, including caffeine, for these populations.

How Can Coffee Drinks Be Bad for You?

While coffee may positively impact your health, what you add to your coffee may make it a less healthy choice.

Brewed black coffee has minimal calories; one 8-ounce cup contains just under 3 calories. A visit to a coffeehouse will confirm that there are many ways to prepare coffee, and many of those coffee drinks contain added sugars, flavorings, milk, creamer, and whipped cream. Be aware that these additions can tack on the calories and mask any health benefits coffee offers.


Roasted coffee contains caffeine as well as many compounds that may be associated with health benefits.

Regular coffee consumption may reduce your risk for certain health conditions, including diabetes, stroke, depression, cardiovascular disease, and even some types of cancer. However, having too much caffeine can cause you to be jittery and anxious and make it difficult to sleep at night.

Most healthy adults can have about four cups of coffee daily. Discuss healthy coffee consumption with your healthcare provider if you're pregnant or have other underlying conditions. While black coffee contains few calories, add-ins such as sugar, cream, milk, and flavorings can increase the calorie count and make it less healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What makes French press coffee bad?

    Some research has found that unfiltered coffee can increase your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This type of coffee is prepared in a French press, Moka pot, or percolator. However, other researchers have questioned this finding, stating that other factors, such as overall diet of coffee consumers, may impact cholesterol levels differently.

  • Is there a healthy way to drink coffee?

    If you are hoping to reduce your coffee drink's fat and calorie content, you may choose lower-fat and low-sugar flavorings, cream, and milk add-ins to your cup. Consider naturally sweet mix-ins such as cinnamon or vanilla extract rather than sugar.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Katie Wilkinson, MPH, MCHES
Katie Wilkinson is a public health professional with more than 10 years of experience supporting the health and well-being of people in the university setting. Her health literacy efforts have spanned many mediums in her professional career: from brochures and handouts to blogs, social media, and web content.