Are we a nation of coffee addicts? It’s a fair question with a recent Canstar Blue survey of around 500 coffee machine-owning Kiwis finding that more than one in five of us drink more than five cups of coffee a day. That’s a lot! And around a quarter of us get withdrawal headaches when we try to cut back.
What’s a safe level of coffee to drink?
According to the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) over consumption of caffeine can cause dizziness, rapid heartbeat, irritability, anxiety, tremors and insomnia. A single shot espresso coffee has around 80 mg of caffeine and a cafe latte 99 mg.
NZFSA’s risk profile indicates that the temporary adverse effects can occur in some people when they consume about 3 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight a day. So – divide the number of mgs in your brew of choice by 3 (mgs), then divide your weight in kilos by the number you have just calculated. That will give you a general idea of the amount of caffeine you should limit yourself to per day.
For example, a latte (99mg) divided by 3mgs equals 33mg. For a 75 kilo person, 2 – 3 cups of coffee per day should be about the limit. The NZFSA advises that most adults would exceed the recommended caffeine amount if they had two single shot lattes or four cups of tea. There is no evidence of long-term harm in the general healthy adult population from caffeine consumption up to 400 mg per day.
The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation offers the following tips for particular groups in relation to coffee consumption:
- It’s advisable for people who are pregnant to limit their coffee consumption each day to around 2 cups of coffee (<200mg caffeine), as pregnancy slows down the rate that caffeine is metabolised. High caffeine levels have been linked to low birth weight and reduced fertility in women trying to conceive,
- Children do not need to include caffeine in their diet. Caffeine in children has been linked to irritability, sleep problems, aggressive behaviour and attention and conduct problems.
- Breastfeeding women should be aware that caffeine may have a stimulating effect on their baby.
- Caffeine is present in many more products these days, particularly energy drinks. It is best if these drinks are avoided, particularly for children and pregnant women as we don’t know the effects of early exposure to caffeine.
Be aware that tea also contains caffeine; while the amount of caffeine in tea is not as high as in coffee, there can still be approximately 55mg of caffeine in a cup of tea.
What type of coffee do we drink?
According to our survey, 68% of Kiwis like to try new coffee flavours – although 48% of those Kiwis owning a coffee machine still drink instant coffee as well. And it seems as though we’re good in the kitchen, with more than three-quarters of us being confident in our barista skills when making a coffee for friends. Let’s hope we’re right!