Are you coo-coo for caffeine? If you’ve found yourself on this site, chances are the answer to this question is a resounding “YES”, because one of the top-known caffeine facts are that this drug naturally occurs in large quantities in coffee and black teas. Other common foodstuffs that contain caffeine include chocolate, some berries, mate tea, sodas, and energy drinks. “Supplements” and medication such as diet pills, cough suppressants, and no-doze also carry this powerful stimulant. It is for this exact property of stimulation that caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world. In fact, 83% of Americans indulge in coffee alone — and this figure does not include other caffeine-based beverages and foodstuffs.
Without getting into advanced scientific jargon, I’d like to explain to you what caffeine, the chemical compound, is exactly. Caffeine is: C8H10N4O2 — and you don’t have to be Walter White to know that this means it’s made from hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen (in the order of most to least prevalent). These are also the most prevalent elements in the human body and more profoundly, everything on this planet. Woah. Okay back to caffeine. Not only is it made of these four common elements, it contains some undeniable properties:
- Acts as a stimulant — an addictive one at that — to humans and other animals who consume it
- It’s an effective pesticide to insects that feed on coffee bean plants (as well as yerba mate and cocoa plants)
- Stimulates the nervous system, heart rate, and respiration
- Acts as a diuretic
- Can have psychotropic (mood alternating) properties
As such, we love drinking coffee and tea in the morning, because it gives us that nice little jolt of energy that lasts just about as long as it takes us to go through our morning routine, drive to the office, and settle in before we need another cup. Or two. Or three. This is because caffeine is short-acting — it only lasts an hour or two before it is completely dispelled from the brain. Caffeine is addictive, because when it is coursing through our body, it is stimulates the nerve cells to release adrenaline — increasing the heart rate and releasing the body’s natural “feel good” chemical dopamine (a neurotransmitter). Once these “feel good” sensations are gone, our body’s pleasure center begins begging for more. A tolerance will slowly build, and your body will need more and more caffeine to reach the stimulation you are used to.
Don’t start to panic — caffeine is a relatively safe drug. Levels that would be considered “toxic” begin to emerge at around 13-19 grams. A typical caffeinated beverage contains 100mg of caffeine, so you would need to consume 130-190 cups of joe to reach a lethal level, and the folks at Coffee Wholesale are pretty sure that’s physically impossible.