Is Coffee An Addiction?

Many people often rely on the consumption of coffee in order to get them throughout the day. By drinking coffee, people believe it helps them to have a boost of energy. As a college student, I often see many people holding coffee cups around campus, Keurig machines in countless dorms, and people that wait in a Starbucks line for nearly twenty minutes before they can even tell the barista their order. Then I got to thinking, why do so many people rely on coffee? Maybe it’s a stress reliever and can actually be beneficial. My null hypothesis would be that coffee is an addiction whereas my alternate hypothesis would be that coffee is not an addiction.  My next underlying question is, if people always drink coffee then can it become an addiction?


What are the ingredients of coffee?

According to Patrick Di Justo, coffee contains ten different ingredients: caffeine, water, 2-Ethylphenol, quinic acid, 3.5 dicaffeoylquinic acid, dimethyl disulfide, acetylmethylcarbinol, putrescine, trigonelline, and niacin. Out of all of these ingredients, it’s the chemical of caffeine that has the strongest effect on individuals. Di Justo states that caffeine stimulates our bodies by blocking neuro-receptors. When neuro-receptors are blocked for the sleep chemical adenosine, it results in people waking up. This is one of the main reasons as to why people choose to drink coffee; coffee helps to wake people up. However, according to a statistic Joseph Stromberg of the Smithsonian provided from the Federal Drug Administration, more than eighty percent of American adults consume caffeine on a regular basis. In addition, Stromberg states that daily consumption of caffeine can alter an individual’s brain chemical composition. As a result, headaches, fatigue, and nausea are symptoms that can ensue if one attempts to quit caffeine. These results are a good way to measure whether or not something may be addicting; if someone has withdrawals then there is a good chance that is has become an addiction. Although all coffee contains caffeine, some coffee brands have higher doses of caffeine than others. For example, a Starbucks cup of coffee has more than double the amount of caffeine that a McDonald’s cup of coffee will have. This reflects on the concern that people have in regards to coffee consumption. With each larger dose of caffeine, the more addicting coffee can potentially become.


This image demonstrates different types of coffee from different brands and how much caffeine is in each brand.


Experiment & Analysis

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University was done on the effects of coffee consumption. Afterwards, the study provided evidence that displayed a cup of coffee a day can lead to a caffeine addiction. This was a meta-analysis study because researchers analyzed a total of 57 experimental studies and nine surveys. The results demonstrated that people who did not have their normal caffeine dosage for the day experienced withdrawal symptoms of caffeine. All of these studies supported the null hypothesis. The symptoms people experienced ranged from fatigue to nausea and muscle pain. In order to combat these symptoms, researchers from this study recommended that people drink less coffee or opt to drink decaf coffee as an alternative.

Since the study design employed using a meta-analysis method, it was very effective. This is because in a meta-analysis study combines a wide range of information from many different research studies. That way, the results that were found did not come from just one source, but from many other sources that all confirmed identical findings. On most of the pop quizzes Andrew has presented to us in class, the concept of reverse causation often comes up. He explains reverse causation as when Y is affecting the X variable. Reverse causality does not apply in this study because you cannot get addicted to something you have never tried before so Y should not affect X. In this case based off of the consumption of coffee, those who did not have caffeine experiences withdrawals or those that experienced withdrawals felt the constant need for caffeine.


This image demonstrates how much coffee people consume globally.


Take Home Message:

I am an advocate for coffee and caffeine consumption. Personally, coffee has been able to get me through very long days and has helped me to have an extra boost of energy when I need it the most. However, I strongly believe that when people drink coffee they should consume a healthy and normal amount instead of consuming it multiple times a day. In my opinion, a healthy and normal amount of coffee would be a cup a day or two max if you needed an extra boost of energy later in the day. Anything more than that would be too much. I also think that if someone were to drink a small cup a day you could still get addicted. It’s like how all of the little things add up to become a really big issue. Being addicted to coffee isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just isn’t a healthy lifestyle to live. If I were to take this a step further, I would conduct a questionnaire for people of all ages with in-depth questions to find out more information about their personal habits and ties to caffeine.

9 thoughts on “Is Coffee An Addiction?

  1. Annalise Marie Pilitowski

    I am an avid coffee drinker and sometimes I don’t even realize that I stop at Starbucks twice in one day. I think that a lot of the time I don’t necessarily even need coffee, i just simply need to experience the taste of it. I also drink it so often that it has become sort of a habit to stop at Starbucks everyday to get my cup of coffee that I get everyday. It is almost as if I have trained my body to just rely on it everyday to help keep me energized simply because i enjoy the taste of it. After reading your research on how caffeine can effect your brain, it seems that my coffee addiction is not only hurting my bank account. So I have decided to do a little research on better options to replace the excessive caffeine in my diet and found this article which lists so very helpful ways to help keep you energized during the day.

  2. Matthew Edward Simco

    I do not drink coffee. I think it is disgusting, and have only had it a few times in my life. Based on other people’s experience, though, I believe that coffee is most definitely addictive. I know certain people who cannot live without it. Every time they pass a Starbucks, they feel the need to purchase some coffee. Coffee, for some people, is a morning essential that they cannot live without. After seeing so many people who need coffee to keep them awake and get them through the day, I was wondering how coffee keeps people awake so well. The article presented below explains the science behind coffee.

  3. Daniele Patrice Loney

    Hi Darcy!
    I personally drink coffee every single morning, and if I know I’m going to be up late doing school work, sometimes ill drink it throughout the day as well to keep me going. However, I don’t think coffee is an addiction for me. I can easily go without it, but why would I? There haven’t been any studies shown to me that would convince me otherwise.
    The brain can become addicted to caffeine, however, I drink coffee for the taste. If it’s decaf, i will still enjoy it. It’s honestly weird to think of, but I think I’m just a fan of the “idea” of coffee! The smell of it keeps me going.
    So, I think defining coffee as an addiction really depends on the individual person.
    To give you a better idea of how caffeine affects our brain, I’ve attached a really useful link!

  4. Lauren Eve Ribeiro

    I think an interesting experiment would be to conduct a study with a control group and an experimental group. The experimental group would be given regular coffee and be asked to write about how they feel at the end of each day in a diary. The control group would not be told that they are being given decaf coffee, and they likewise would write about how they felt. I think it would be very interesting to see the thoughts of the people who were given the placebo cup of coffee. I predict that a great number of them would say that they felt energized and more awake. Do you think that it could also be possible that people are perhaps addicted to the taste of coffee more than the caffeine itself. Personally I look forward to my morning cup of coffee because I love the way it tastes and smells. If there is not enough time in the morning to grab a cup of coffee I rarely find myself feeling deprived and unable to go on with my day, but more just sad that I wasn’t able to drink a delicious cup of coffee.

  5. Jordan Crawford

    Coffee addiction over the years has become more of a social norm. Now its seems like more people are drinking coffee and saying they are addicted just to fit in. You see the Starbucks phenomenon go on all around the country, especially at colleges. In a way it makes people feels confident and superior to others just because they have that Starbucks coffee in their hands walking around.

  6. Cassandra N Kearns

    I was never a coffee drinker until college, where I too noticed how much coffee people are actually drinking. Because I don’t like to drink coffee a lot, I decided to research some alternatives to the drink. I found that apples can actually wake you up just as much as coffee. They contain no caffeine at all, but instead boast a lot of natural sugars. It is also said that the motion or “crunch” of eating an apple stimulates your brain and causes you to wake up also. Here is some more information through a helpful blog by a holistic nutritionist:

  7. Matthew Porr

    I think that people are not addicted to coffee but rather the caffeine within the coffee. Caffeine is a drug and it make sense that people may become addicted to it. I feel like people don’t usually associate caffeine with addiction because it is a legal drug. I also feel as if this is hypocritical because their is a stigma associated with people being addicted to illegal drugs. Being addicted to caffeine is not that different from being addicted to marijuana. Your take home message focused on drinking coffee in moderation. Do you think this could be extended to using all drugs in moderation or in a “healthy and normal amount”?

  8. Kaitlyn A Kaminski

    Hi Darcy,

    I think coffee is an addiction and I can speak personally to this. I never drank caffeine regularly until high school and since then if I miss a morning cup, I will get a headache. I think my body has become immune to the drink and is used to the liquid. I tried to lean myself off, but it doesn’t work. I know this isn’t good for me, but what is 100% safe?? Yes, this is dangerous and yes- it’s addictive, but if it’s going to help me function and get through my day, then I am going to drink it. Here’s an article on caffeine addiction and withdraw-, I thought you might find this interesting!

  9. David Louis Haselkorn

    I believe that people drink coffee and believe that they need to function everyday. It is really a placebo and it is all mental. There are way too many people drinking coffee and starting far too young. People would be much better off having never taken a sip. In this article ( it talks about the long term risks of drinking coffee. I believe it is highly addictive and potentially dangerous.

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