“Coffee is a slow poison. It must be, I’ve been drinking it for 80 years.”

That coffee as a slow poison joke has been attributed to both Voltaire and Fontenelle, in various forms. No firm source has been established, but the point remains, if coffee is killing you slowly, by 80 years old, it’s killing you very slowly.

Heck, dad just turned 87, and he has several cups a day. It might even have been he, who got me started on my coffee habit.

Anyway, I’ve been writing about nutrient deficiencies lately, but since today I’m not feeling particularly inspired in that particular corner of the vast world of nutrition, and since this is my blog, today I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to talk about the sweet black juice of life.

A steaming hot cup of coffee
The sweet black juice of life

Like just about everything else in the world of nutritional advice (I’m looking at you eggs, salt, fat, cholesterol, red meat, soy, etc.), the word on caffeine has varied greatly over the years. From

  • drink what you want,
  • to quit it completely before you die,
  • to waitaminute, there is a safe daily level.

I won’t bother you with the gory details, but I will borrow this:

Coffee consumption is associated with a lowered risk of death from all causes

British Medical Journal

In greater detail, besides the generic “from all causes,” what did coffee specifically help with? Lowered risk of

  • Heart disease
  • Certain cancers (prostate, skin and liver)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallstones
  • Gout
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Liver diseases, including cirrhosis and fibrosis

That is a laundry list of goodness I decline to forego, and although I’m not telling you to go out and drink two triple espresso shot lattes before 9 am (which I may or may not be guilty of doing, every day) I will say this:

  • Do you like coffee?
  • Do you like tea?
  • Do you like colas?

If the answer to any, or all, of these questions ins “Yes,” then don’t use the old joke about caffeine being a slow poison as a reason to give up your favoured beverage.

As a final note, doctors seem to have settled on 3 to 4 cups of coffee per day as your daily limit. Interestingly enough, that is also around the amount where the decrease in death risk levels out.

Anyway, you may be like my brother, who had to quit because he was getting stomach aches. You may be like my other brother who quit because reasons and now drinks more tea daily than he ever did coffee.

Or you can be like me and say, f@#$ it, gimme another cup.