The Little Secret In Your Coffee Cup
Walton-on-Thames & Weybridge Premier health and fitness blog.
Like many of you I love a good strong coffee. Nothing beats a long bike ride in the sun followed by an espresso at your favourite café, or a lazy afternoon with friends enjoying a well-made cup of your favorite brew. For me the small independent coffee shops are leading the way with good quality, well made and uncomplicated coffee. My personal favourite is tucked away in the Brighton lanes, Café COHO. The best cappuccino in Sussex and the best people watching by far!
On a recent trip to my local gym I decided to stay and work from the coffee shop after my workout. They serve the Uk’s current favourite Costa coffee, a particular brand I have avoided in recent months because I always feel awful afterwards. Out of curiosity I asked the barista how many espressos were in a medium cappuccino to which he answered three. Two in a small, and four in a large. Now to be fair he was happy to cut my shot down to one and for my personal taste was much better. I can only assume that these quantities are standard across the chain and not adjusted due to this being a gym that sells Costa coffee rather than a dedicated shop.
I was however shocked at the quantity of espresso so I decided to look a little closer into the current guidelines on caffeine intake. In May the EU Food Safety Watchdog released its current recommendations on caffeine intake and a daily safe limit of 400mg or around four espressos. Consuming above the 400mg recommended allowance has a number of health implications including anxiety, sleeplessness, dehydration, heart rhythm disturbances as well as a number of serious implications for pregnant women such as links to underweight child birth and potential links to miscarriage according to the NHS.
Many Brits are subconsciously consuming over the guidelines partly due to the high quantities found in the high street chains. The amounts in these drinks varies greatly but most small/regular coffee now contains two shots of espresso as standard due to a shift in desire for stronger coffee according to the high street chains.
The second reason for over consumption is the lack of understanding of other drinks and foods that contain caffeine. A can of red bull for example contains 80mg, a cup of tea contains around 50mg, a small bar of dark chocolate contains up to 50mg and a can of Coke contains 30mg. Caffeine is often added to pain killers as well.
At a recent meal out with friends they discussed how they had recently tried to cut out coffee and how it was an impossible and hellish experience. This to me highlights just how truly addictive this little beverage can be thanks to the caffeine. Now I try to just enjoy a coffee at the weekends and always ask for single shot. As a society we are always keen to go bigger and scale up our treats. For coffee though I would enjoy it in moderation and explore the many different blends in the search for a better tasting coffee.
Enjoy your coffee but in moderation, slowly cut down on your intake by a cup a day for two weeks and then cut out another until you are able to choose to have a coffee, while having coffee free days. Don’t try this cold turkey especially if you currently consume four or more cups a day as you will be quite shocked at the withdrawal symptoms. Carry a water bottle with you and increase your water intake to 1-2L per day and you will feel like a new person within a few weeks. Better sleep, more productive, less irritable and full of sustained energy without the peaks and lows of the caffeine roller coaster.
While I think the big chains could be more transparent with the quantity of caffeine in these drinks (some contain a whole days allowance in a single cup) we should be challenging ourselves to be more aware as consumers. Enjoy your coffee but know your numbers, do you really need four espressos in your coffee?