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Dear Dietitian – What are the health impacts of coffee?

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PROMO Health - Diet Heart Fruit Vegetable Medical - iStock - Visivasnc
Leanne McCrate, RDN, CNSC

Dear Readers: Many of us start our day with a hot cup of coffee. In my opinion, the best part of the day is over when the alarm clock goes off, so coffee is needed to come alive. Coffee is a good source of caffeine, which increases alertness, and antioxidants, which may help prevent several diseases.

One theory on how coffee got its name is that the part of Ethiopia where wild coffee originated was called the Kingdom of Kaffa. Today most of the coffee produced is in developing countries, with Brazil growing one-third of the world’s coffee. In the US, California and Hawaii are the only states that make the fine bean.

Finland tops the world in coffee consumption, where they consume 23 pounds of the brew per person each year. In the US, 64% of adult Americans drink java, with the average coffee drinker taking in about 10 pounds of coffee every year (1).

What does your cup of java say about you? While these findings may not be strictly scientific, they are interesting and fun.

People who order black coffee are no-nonsense. They are the ones who get to a meeting five minutes early and leave promptly when it’s over. There’s no time to socialize. They like to keep things simple, and they work efficiently. Some of the drawbacks of their personality are that they can be abrupt and sometimes moody. Black coffee drinkers tend to be set in their ways and resist change.

Many people seek comfort in coffee by adding cream and sugar. They are often people pleasers and will go out of their way to help someone. They are giving, but they may get overextended while volunteering for too many charities. Since they often put others’ needs above their own, they may need improvement in self-care.

Those who make instant coffee are said to be procrastinators and don’t mind waiting until the last minute to make their brew before dashing out the door. They are laid back and take life as it comes. Sometimes they can be too laid back and neglect health issues. Instant coffee drinks are not good planners.

People who order decaffeinated coffee like to be in control and may be perfectionistic. They tend to their health needs and make good choices. On the downside, decaf drinkers tend to be worriers and can be overly sensitive.

Iced coffee drinks are popular now. Folks who order these brews are spontaneous and like to try new things. They are outgoing and consider themselves to be trendsetters. On the dark side, they may fall for gimmicks and don’t always think things through before acting.

If you haven’t tried a flavored coffee, I suggest doing so. There are many flavors on the market, including hazelnut, pumpkin spice, and salted caramel. Flavored coffee drinkers are risk-takers. They like variety and aren’t afraid of change. Some less favorable characteristics of this group include impulsivity and being highly sensitive (2).

Now that you know what your coffee says about you, see if you can mix it up next time and dare to be different.

Be safe and be healthy!

Dear Dietitian


  1. Rolfsen, E.  (9 Aug 2020). Coffee trivia to amaze your friends and delight total strangers.
  2. Walters, E. (8 Jul 2018) What does your coffee reveal about you?
Leanne McCrate, RDN, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mission is to educate consumers on sound, scientifically-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or diet plans.