Is Coffee Healthy?

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Is coffee healthy or not
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Is Coffee Healthy?

Like many things in health and nutrition, when it comes to coffee, the answer to “is coffee healthy or not?” is: it depends.

I could easily write an entire blog post about all of the problems with coffee and I could just as easily write a post about why it is one of the healthiest things you can drink. At the end of the day, it depends on many factors, including biochemistry, the source of the beans, when and how it is consumed, and much more.

Certainly, some absolutes remain true: that artificial sweeteners, sugar, and especially hydrogenated and sugar-laden processed creamer blends are not health-promoting and can be avoided.

The Science on Coffee

Coffee was once considered bad for us, and now I see a new article each week about its health-promoting benefits, both for drinking it or in use as a detoxifying enema. Which research is correct?

Older research often looked at just the question of “is coffee healthy” by itself and didn’t necessarily adjust for factors like the increased likelihood of smoking, excessive sitting, or a high stress lifestyle in people who also drank a lot of coffee.

More modern research that makes these adjustments seems to find no correlation between coffee consumption (at least in moderate levels) and risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer. In fact, I’ve seen some studies showing a decreased risk of these diseases in moderate coffee drinkers.

The Mayo Clinic reported that:

Studies have shown that coffee may have health benefits, including protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer. It also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.

Potential Problems with Coffee Consumption

There are a few ways it can be potentially harmful:

  • Caffeine: The habit of needing coffee can signal a problem with adrenal health or intolerance to caffeine. At the same time, consuming the same substance every single day can lead to dependence, especially when considering a substance like caffeine. My solution? Even when I’m drinking coffee, I don’t consume it every day and I make sure to add some extra health boosting ingredients to increase the nutritional value
  • Pesticides: Coffee beans are a highly sprayed crop. I haven’t seen any research indicating that there is an increased cancer risk with non-organic coffee, but I stick to organic beans to avoid the pesticide exposure.
  • Mold: Dave Asprey has give the problem of mycotoxins (mold toxins) mainstream exposure and coffee is a notoriously high mycotoxin beverage. As he explains: “Mycotoxins are damaging compounds created by molds which grow on coffee beans (among other things). These compounds cause all sorts of health problems like cardiomyopathy, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, and even brain damage. They also make your coffee taste bitter, like it needs sugar.” He goes on to explain that not all coffee has this problems but that the source matters:”“Blends” of coffee are bad news because they mix cheap beans from multiple areas, almost guaranteeing that you’ll get some moldy ones. This is why its important to buy your coffee from a single estate, as outlined in the process for finding the highest performance coffee in your city. If you drink mass market coffee, the beans in your grinder may come from several countries. It’s the same logic that tells you not to eat a hamburger made from the meat of 10,000 animals.Decaf coffee is even worse. Caffeine is a natural anti-insect and antifungal defense mechanism for the plant. It deters mold and other organisms from growing on the beans. Mold is everywhere, but caffeine helps prevent it from growing on the beans while they’re in storage. When you remove the caffeine, your beans are defenseless. Decaf coffee is higher in both aflatoxin and ochratoxin. This is one of the reasons decaf tastes like camel sweat”. (source)

Potential Benefits of Drinking Coffee

  • Increased Performance: From Kris Gunnars “Caffeine’s primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. By blocking the inhibitory effects of Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine (source, source). Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function (source).” There are studies showing that coffee can help improve athletic performance, mobilize fat from cells, and increase stamina.
  • Antioxidants: Coffee is one of nature’s potent antioxidant sources and recent studies have shown that most Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from any other source. While it is good that we are at least getting antioxidants, it is sad that we aren’t getting more from nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, vitamin C rich foods, or natural sources of Astaxanthin (a potent antioxidant). High quality coffee may be great in moderation but it is important to balance this by consuming other antioxidant-rich foods and drinks from other natural sources
  • Lower risk of mental disorders and diabetes: From Dave: “Long term coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes. The more coffee you drink, the lower the risk. Coffee consumption is associated with increased insulin sensitivity and improved beta cell function. People who drink six or more cups of coffee per day are 50 percent less likely to develop diabetes.”
  • Some great uses for used coffee grounds such as homemade beauty products, natural stainer, and compost.

My Favorite Coffee Brands

Four Sigmatic – If you follow the podcast, you’ve probably heard me profess my love for Four Sigmatic coffee. It contains adaptogenic mushrooms (yes, mushrooms) for an extra boost of natural energy. I never feel jittery on this coffee and the taste is amazing. They sell both grounds for brewed coffee and small instant packets that I carry with me when I travel.

Purity Coffee – I’ve tried a lot of organic coffee brands at this point, and this one is my favorite of them all! Listen to this podcast to hear about the founder’s extremely quality high standards for their coffee. Purity Coffee screens all of their coffee for mold (they have a zero tolerance policy), toxins, and sustainable growing practices. All of that is secondary to how great this coffee tastes. It’s bold and smooth and hits all the right notes. (And I might need to go make another cup…)

Caveman Coffee – Caveman has a ready to drink nitro coffee that is low acid and really good (strong though… equal to three shots of espresso) and their regular coffee beans are great too.

A mix of the above – My husband insists the perfect cup of Joe comes from mixing Four Sigmatic and Purity in a 50/50 blend, and I tend to agree 😉

The Bottom Line

Coffee can be great if your body tolerates it and if it comes from a good source. I personally eliminate it every few weeks just to test mental performance with and without it. I also don’t drink coffee when I’m on a strict autoimmune diet, but I seem to do ok when reintroducing it.

Also, if I drink coffee, I make it with added nutrients using recipes like these:

Coffee has its benefits, but antioxidants are plentiful in many natural foods and drinks, so if you aren’t a fan of worlds most popular morning beverage, don’t sweat it! Drink some quality herbal tea instead.

Is coffee a guilty pleasure of yours? How do you drink it or do you avoid it completely? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


44 responses to “Is Coffee Healthy?”

  1. Kate Avatar

    Do you know if four sigmatic is safe to take during pregnancy since it has adaptogens in it ? Also what decaf coffee brand do you drink ?

  2. Kevin Avatar

    My question is , which I’ve asked Keurig and never received a reply, does coffee brewed in a Keurig have the same health benefits as coffee brewed in a more conventional way (percolator, drip, etc.)? Does it have the same amount of antioxidants as coffee brewed in a more conventional way?

  3. Laura F. Avatar

    Katie, do you drink coffee while pregnant? I know some women give it up all together and other women limit themselves to 200mg of caffeine per day (or less) while pregnant, but I am curious to see if you’ve researched this topic and, if so, what your research has showed. I really respect your thoughts on these matters. Thanks so much!

  4. Kim Smyth Avatar
    Kim Smyth

    I love my morning coffee, yet I can go without it now that I found bone broth protein and coffee essential oil. The way I normally drink mine when I do drink it is to make bulletproof coffee. That way I only need one cup a day, it gives me all the beneficial fats I need from the coconut oil and butter, and I feel full and satiated until lunch, even if I skip breakfast-who would do that? ?
    Honestly though, I prefer to drink my coffee every morning when possible and I find it gives me a little boost and helps mental clarity. Thank goodness for my Ninja, it makes the ingredients completely mix together so I have a nice froth on top and not coconut oil on my lips (which bothers some people). I just mix my hot coffee with a T of grassfed butter, a T of coconut oil, a pkt of Pyure and a healthy shake of Ceylon cinnamon. Blend it up and enjoy!

  5. Ellen Avatar

    Coffee…sigh….my one true addiction. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love coffee but it does not like me. It blasts my hormones, disrupts my sleep, and pummels my adrenals. And that’s with only 4-6 oz a day. If I conveniently “forget” how rough coffee is on my (like the true negotiating addict I am) and I start drinking a full cup a day, within a week I am exhausted, achy, overtired from shallow sleep, suffering indigestion and even some IBS symptoms, and overall unwell. When I can stay coffee-free, I feel SO much better.

  6. Hannah Avatar

    I heard on your podcast that coffee first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, is bad form for achieving balanced hormones.
    Do you have a time preference or food accompaniment that is best?
    I don’t have it everyday, but I prefer morning when I do! I just want to savor it with out the guilt!:)

  7. Dana Avatar

    Hi wellness mama!! Where do you get your coffee from? And so you get while beans? Wondering if it’s best to use a French press or just a coffee maker?…. Thanks for the help? Also… When pregnant or nursing so you do decaf or is regular coffee fine?

  8. Phillipa Avatar

    For the first 48 years of my life I had no coffee or other caffeinated drinks. The last two I slowly increased coffee consumption up to 1-4 cups a day. I was slowly having more and more water weight and inflammation. It is not gluten as I have been free of that for years. Anyway I’m very sensitive to progesterone. I started researching coffee’s effect on estrogen and decided to cut to one cup a week. Amazing difference immediately. I miss the coffee but gaining weight is not worth it!

  9. Nancy Avatar


  10. Rana Avatar

    Dear Katie,

    Great post, you got me reconsidering the source of my coffee!

    I agree on not consuming coffee on daily basis. Personally, I drink coffee once in a while.
    You listed coffee benefits. However, coffee has side effects such as anxiety and sleep disorders. In addition, it isn’t good for people with acid reflux or heartburn.
    Moreover, caffeine impairs insulin action (Collazo-Clavell, 2012). Although it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels in healthy adults, it does in diabetic patients. “if you have type 2 diabetes, the impact of caffeine on insulin action may be associated with a small, but detectable rise in blood sugar levels, particularly after meals”(Collazo-Clavell, 2012).
    People react to coffee differently. As you mentioned, choosing good coffee quality and moderate consumption is the best.

    I got curious. Does organic coffee taste better than conventionally coffee?

    Collazo-Clavell, M. (2012). Diseases and conditions: Type 2 diabetes. Retrieved from

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