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A look at why we drink so much coffee and what it means for our health

A look at why we drink so much coffee and what it means for our health

People love their coffee. Case in point: 69% of adults who drink coffee have at least 2 cups per day.

Why do we drink so much coffee? And what kind of effect is it having on our health?

To get answers, we surveyed more than 1,000 adults living in the U.S. about their coffee-sipping habits. The results show that most of us drink coffee (roughly 80%), but there are subtle differences across generations on why that is, and how it’s impacting us.

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Our relationship with coffee starts sooner than you might expect. About a third of coffee drinkers  (34%) started drinking coffee before they turned 17, and roughly 70% did so before turning 25.

Equally surprising, our level of coffee consumption hits the ground running and only increases over time. For example, 54% of adults between the ages of 18-29 have 2 or more cups per day on average, compared to 71% of those ages 45-60 and 77% of people older than 60.

So what’s motivating us to be such fervent coffee drinkers from an early age? Here are a few coffee statistics that give us answers:

  1. Its irresistible flavor: Roughly 69% drink it for its taste. 
  2. For an extra kick: About 62% drink coffee for an extra burst of energy—a number that jumps to 74% for those between the ages of 18-29. 
  3. For getting in the zone: More than a third (34%) say they use it to improve their focus (Although only 23% of adults over 60 years old cite this as a reason.).
  4. A way to chill out: About 18% drink it to manage their stress. Again, adults more than 60 years old are an outlier: only 9% say the same.
  5. Part of a well-balanced diet: Approximately 10% consume it for health reasons. 

Our respondents elaborated on their reasons for drinking coffee in our open-ended question, “How do you feel about coffee?” We used a word cloud to highlight the most common answers.

Word cloud on how people feel about coffee.

Note: The larger the words appear, the more frequently they came up in our responses.

We’ll let a few of our respondents explain in their own words:

“Coffee is my happy place! I love all types and most flavors. It helps calm me down and it doesn’t keep me up at night.”

“I see coffee as an elixir of comfort and taste. It provides me with a sense of security in the morning.”

“The aroma and taste of a fresh cup of coffee is inviting and soothing!”

Older adults are less likely to report negative side-effects from coffee. For instance, only 34% of 18-29 year olds say it doesn’t negatively impact them, versus 62% of people between the ages of 45-60 and 77% of those more than 60 years old.  

How can it hurt your well-being? These coffee stats can clue you in:

  • About a quarter (24%) say it disrupts their sleep. Young adults—18-29 years old—are particularly affected, with 36% saying it prevents them from getting a good night's rest.
  • Roughly 16% claim it raises their anxiety. Like before, young adults are the most vulnerable, with 26% saying so.  
  •  Approximately 15% of respondents find that it elevates their heart rate and—you guessed it—young adults are more likely to say they experience this (24%). 

So is your daily joe bad for you? It depends on your experience! Coffee has some well-documented health benefits, and some potential downsides like the ones you see above. 

Hope these coffee stats have you feeling buzzed!