Coffee and Weight Loss: What the Latest Research Shows

coffee and weight loss

Coffee is one of the world’s most beloved and widely consumed beverages. People drink over 160 million bags of coffee globally per year. Many relish coffee for its energizing effects from caffeine. But beyond just a pick-me-up, emerging research suggests coffee may offer potential weight loss benefits as well.

Several recent studies have delved into connections between coffee drinking and weight changes, yielding intriguing but sometimes mixed results. While coffee demonstrates promise in supporting weight management, there are some important nuances regarding how it is consumed.

Overview of Coffee and Weight Loss Research

In October 2023, an extensive study published in the prestigious journal The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition took a deep dive into coffee and weight by analyzing pooled data from over 155,000 adult participants in three major long-term health studies – the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

The researchers found that increased consumption of unsweetened coffee was associated with modest yet significant weight loss over time, while adding sugar to coffee seemed to negate the benefits and was linked to slight weight gain. Specifically, they discovered that each additional daily cup of plain black coffee was tied to around a 0.12 kg (0.26 lb) reduction in body weight when measured over four years.

Meanwhile, adding just a teaspoon of sugar into coffee daily equated to roughly a 0.09 kg (0.2 lb) weight gain over the same four year timeframe. The effects appeared stronger among younger people under age 40 and those considered overweight or obese with BMIs of 25 and higher.

Other smaller studies covered in journals like Obesity and Appetite have investigated coffee’s impact on appetite, hunger levels, and calorie consumption, with conflicting results. Some research indicates coffee may mildly suppress appetite thanks to influences on hormones like ghrelin.

However, other studies have not found a statistically significant effect on reducing appetite or calories consumed at meals. This suggests coffee’s effects vary considerably between individuals based on age, weight, caffeine tolerance, and genetics. More research is needed to draw firmer conclusions.

Unsweetened Coffee Linked to Modest Weight Loss

One primary weight loss advantage of plain unsweetened coffee is that it contains minimal calories. So it can easily fit into a calorie deficit needed for dropping excess pounds without adding excess energy.

According to registered dietitian Ashley Shaw, a typical 8 oz cup of black coffee brewed at home has less than 5 calories. For those tracking calories for weight loss, coffee is an ideal beverage choice that satisfies a craving without derailing diet goals.

In comparison, a medium 16 oz Starbucks Caffe Mocha has 400 calories – nearly a quarter of some dieters’ daily calorie allotment. Iced coffee drinks fare little better, with a 16 oz Java Chip Frappuccino providing 390 calories.

Beyond being naturally low-calorie, coffee may also enhance weight management through other mechanisms like boosting metabolism thanks to its caffeine content. As a stimulant, caffeine is one of the only substances scientifically shown to increase resting metabolic rate, meaning the rate at which the body burns calories for energy while at rest.

Research has found that caffeine consumption – such as through coffee drinking – can enhance thermogenesis in the body, which is the process of heat production that expends energy. Caffeine also promotes fat oxidation or breakdown for fuel. Over time, studies observe that habitual coffee drinkers tend to have slightly higher daily metabolic rates.

However, there is an important caveat – with regular exposure, the body builds up a tolerance to caffeine, meaning its impacts on metabolism diminish over the long haul. People who drink coffee every day may see less metabolic enhancement than more sporadic or new consumers.

Added Sugar in Coffee Can Lead to Weight Gain

While plain black coffee in moderation, can support healthy weight goals, the story changes dramatically when significant calories are added via sugars, creams, and calorie-laden flavours.

Just a single teaspoon of added granular white sugar contains around 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates. When sugar is added to coffee – or any beverage – these calories can quickly multiply while providing only empty nutritional value without benefits like fibre, protein, vitamins, or minerals.

Popular coffee drinks are prime examples of how sugar can turn coffee from low-calorie to high-calorie. For instance, a 16 oz Starbucks Caffe Mocha has 50 grams of sugar and 400 calories. Their 16 oz White Chocolate Mocha packs an even heftier 540 calories and 64 grams of added sugar.

Espresso drinks fare a little better – a 16 oz Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks contains 250 calories and 33 grams of sugar. Even an unsuspecting 12 oz Cafe Vanilla Frappuccino has 50 grams of sugar and 300 empty calories.

As registered dietitian Ashley Shaw points out, these coffee-based beverages “can quickly become high in calories, sugar, and fats when different milks and sugars are added.” The excess calories make it challenging to maintain the calorie deficit required for shedding pounds.

To keep coffee as part of a weight loss strategy, it’s wise to avoid pumping up drinks with added syrups, whipped creams, and sweeteners that can transform an innocent 5-calorie beverage into a 400+ calorie indulgence.

Caffeine’s Effects on Metabolism and Appetite

Two of the main proposed mechanisms behind coffee’s potential benefits for weight management are increased metabolism and lowered appetite. But the research is still emerging in these areas, and some findings remain inconclusive.

Some small studies, like a 2014 trial published in the journal Appetite, have found evidence that coffee may significantly lower levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin. This reduction in ghrelin may dampen and suppress appetite.

However, not all human studies have managed to reproduce coffee’s appetite-blunting effects across populations. Other trials uncovered no statistically significant differences in either ghrelin levels or perceived hunger and appetite between coffee drinkers and abstainers.

Clearly, much remains unknown regarding how coffee influences appetite and how effects might vary between individuals or groups. Genetics, age, stomach sensitivity, and other factors likely impact responses.

Regarding metabolism, as previously mentioned, research confirms caffeine can temporarily rev up metabolic rate and calorie burning after consumption. However, due to tolerance over time, these effects do not seem to persist in the long term among habitual coffee consumers.

According to registered dietitian Lon Ben-Asher, “Caffeine intake speeds up metabolism, likely due to the caffeine content. It enhances fat-burning through increased thermogenesis and stimulation of neurotransmitters such as adrenaline.”

Yet overall, caffeine appears to influence individuals rather differently. Some experience pronounced appetite suppression and metabolic surge, while others have minimal response. More research is still needed to understand coffee’s effects on metabolism and appetite fully.

Health Benefits of Coffee

In addition to potential impacts on body weight, coffee may offer a range of other health benefits when consumed in moderation without adding excess sugars or calories.

According to bariatric surgeon Dr. Felix Spiegel, coffee provides “anti-cancer effects because of high concentration of antioxidants. Also, cardiovascular improvements have been demonstrated with controlled intake amounts up to 5 cups daily.”

Coffee beans and the beverage brewed from them are packed with diverse antioxidants that combat oxidative stress in the body. These include polyphenols like chlorogenic acids, melanoidins, and cafestol.

Some research indicates the antioxidants in coffee may help protect cells against DNA damage that can potentially lead to cancer development. This may be one reason habitual coffee intake is linked to reduced risks for certain cancers like liver, uterine, prostate, and colorectal.

Coffee also seems to benefit heart health – studies consistently associate regular moderate coffee drinking with lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, a meta-analysis in The American Journal of Medicine found that consuming 4 cups of coffee daily was tied to a 14% decrease in developing coronary heart disease.

Other large studies reveal those who regularly drink coffee have a reduced chance of stroke, heart failure, and arrhythmias compared to non-coffee drinkers. Coffee may improve heart health by boosting circulation and blood vessel function.

Additionally, studies link coffee to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes – a massive review in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that each daily cup reduced diabetes risk by around 7%. Coffee also shows associations with protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Potential Downsides of Coffee

Despite coffee’s diverse potential upsides, it has some drawbacks and cautions to keep in mind. Consuming excessive caffeine can lead to unwelcome side effects like insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, digestive issues, and heart palpitations in sensitive individuals.

Caffeine found in coffee can also negatively interact with certain medications, including antidepressants, antibiotics, diabetes drugs, and blood thinners. Coffee should be avoided altogether by those at risk of bone fractures, as caffeine may mildly increase urinary calcium excretion.

Pregnant women are typically advised to limit coffee intake to less than 200 mg caffeine daily from all sources, as higher intakes have been associated with increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and lower birth weights.

Registered dietitian Beata Rydyger notes that poor and inadequate sleep is strongly tied to increased hunger and appetite, particularly for high-calorie junk foods. She cautions coffee drinkers to avoid indulging in late afternoon or evening, which can disrupt natural sleep-wake cycles.

Consuming coffee too close to bedtime can backfire for weight loss by keeping people awake and interfering with crucial overnight hormone regulation that controls hunger cues and metabolism the following day.

Tips for Drinking Coffee to Support Weight Loss

If you want to drink coffee in a way that optimizes potential weight management benefits while minimizing drawbacks, here are some research-backed tips:

Limit Added Sugars and Calories

To reap the benefits of calorie-free, unsweetened coffee, avoid pumping drinks full of added sugars via syrups, whipped creams, and sweeteners that can completely counteract the drink’s low-calorie advantage. If you like a touch of sweetness, try using erythritol, monk fruit, stevia, or other natural low-calorie sweeteners sparingly.

Moderate Your Overall Caffeine Intake

Most experts recommend capping total caffeine from all sources at 400 mg daily max as going above this amount can increase anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and other side effects in caffeine-sensitive individuals. 4-5 cups of home-brewed coffee should keep intake within moderate range for health.

Avoid Coffee Late in the Day

Since caffeine can linger in the body for hours and disrupt natural sleep cycles, avoid drinking coffee late in the afternoon or evening. To prevent interference with sleep, consume coffee in the morning or early afternoon. Protecting rest is vital for appetite-regulating hormones.

Eat Balanced Meals and Snacks

Pair coffee with nutritious whole foods like oatmeal, eggs, nuts, yogurt, and fruit instead of calorie-laden baked goods. Eat regular balanced meals and snacks to stabilize blood sugar and hunger levels throughout the day.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after coffee to stay hydrated. Caffeine has mild diuretic effects, so increased water intake helps offset fluid loss. Adequate hydration is key for metabolism and appetite control.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does decaf coffee help with weight loss?

Some research suggests decaf coffee may have appetite-suppressing effects similar to regular coffee, so it can potentially still aid weight loss through reduced calorie consumption. However, without the metabolism-boosting effects of caffeine, the benefits may be more modest.

Is cold brew coffee good for weight loss?

Cold brew coffee contains minimal calories like regular black coffee, so it can support weight loss goals. Some research suggests cold brew coffee may be less acidic and contain more caffeine than hot coffee, but more studies are needed on its health impacts. Avoid adding calories by sweetening or whitening.

Can coffee increase belly fat?

Plain black coffee alone is unlikely to directly increase belly or body fat when consumed without unnecessary added sugars and calories. However, inadequate sleep and disrupted circadian rhythms from excessive late-day caffeine intake can potentially increase appetite hormones like ghrelin, which may indirectly promote fat storage over time.

Does coffee cause anxiety or jitters?

For sensitive individuals, consuming very high doses of caffeine found in coffee, especially when rapidly consumed, can increase anxiety, jitters, tremors, and other unwelcome stimulant side effects. Those prone to caffeine jitters should limit intake to 200-400 mg daily from all sources and spread consumption over several hours.

Is coffee bad for your heart?

In moderation, substantial research suggests coffee reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in most people. But for those sensitive to stimulants, very high intakes may increase heart rate and blood pressure. As with all foods and beverages, moderation is key when incorporating coffee into a healthy lifestyle.

The Bottom Line

Emerging research indicates that unsweetened coffee may aid modest weight loss through mechanisms like appetite suppression and temporarily increased thermogenesis from caffeine. However, added creamers and especially added sugars appear to counteract these potential benefits. While coffee looks promising for weight management support, it should be consumed in moderation alongside an overall balanced diet and active lifestyle for optimal health. If coffee is not easily available at your location, maybe it’s time to get a good coffee machine.

Washed Coffee vs Natural Coffee: Understanding Processing Methods

Washed Coffee vs Natural Coffee: Understanding Processing Methods

Coffee enthusiasts often debate the merits of washed coffee versus natural coffee. But what exactly do these terms mean? The key difference lies in how the freshly picked coffee cherries are processed after harvesting. Each method results in distinct flavours and aromas.

This guide will examine washed and natural coffee production, help you identify their differing taste profiles, and explore the pros and cons of each technique. Read on to fully understand these pivotal processing methods shaping your daily cup!

Overview of Washed and Natural Coffee Processing

After picking coffee cherries, they undergo initial processing to separate the beans from the fruit flesh and protective layers. There are two primary processing methods used worldwide:

Washed Processing: The cherries are pulped immediately after picking to remove the outer skin and fruit. The beans are then fermented for 8 to 48 hours to remove sticky mucilage. Finally, the beans are thoroughly washed with fresh water and dried.

Natural Processing: The cherries are dried whole with the fruit flesh and mucilage layer attached. This takes 4-6 weeks with frequent turning. The protective layers are later removed mechanically.

Both methods ultimately yield clean, export-ready green coffee beans. But the presence or absence of that fruit matter hugely impacts flavor. Let’s examine each more closely.

How Washed Coffee Processing Works

Washed coffee utilizes dedicated pulping machines to efficiently strip the outer skin and fruit pulp from harvested cherries:

  • Pulping – Cherries pass between fixed and rotating plates that press, tear, and scrub the fruit away.
  • Fermentation – Beans soak from 8-48 hours, allowing yeasts and bacteria to digest and loosen the sticky mucilage coating the beans.
  • Washing – Then beans are thoroughly rinsed with fresh water to eliminate all traces of mucilage.
  • Drying – Finally, beans are dried on tables, patios, or mechanical dryers until 11-12% moisture.

The heavy focus on washing creates very clean, pure flavour profiles. But lots of water is used in processing. Next, we’ll contrast with natural methods.

How Natural Coffee Processing Works

In natural processing, cherries are kept whole and dried fully intact using the fruit and mucilage as protection:

  • Drying – Cherries are dried by the sun, mechanical dryers, or a combination, taking 4-6 weeks.
  • Turning – Coffee must be turned multiple times daily to prevent mould.
  • Milling – Once sufficiently dried, machines mill away all dry outer layers, splitting open the cherries.
  • Sorting – Final sorting removes any lingering dried skins from the green beans.

Rather than adding flavour through washes and soaks, natural coffee develops its unique profile during slow, intact drying. But it requires close monitoring.

Flavor Differences Between Washed and Natural Coffee

The presence or absence of fruit sugars and acids left on the beans create significant taste differences:

Washed Coffee Flavor Qualities:

  • Clean, pure flavours
  • Bright, lively acidity
  • Distinct origin characteristics
  • Notes of lemon, berry, and chocolate

Natural Coffee Flavor Attributes:

  • Full-bodied, heaviness
  • Sweeter, fruitier notes
  • Rounder, smoother mouthfeel
  • Hints of strawberry, honey, wine

Think pure versus fruity. The same beans processed differently would still be identifiably that origin, but the flavor nuances change significantly.

Pros and Cons of Washed Coffee Processing

Washed processing creates a clean flavor at the cost of heavy water usage. Here are the key pros and cons:


  • Preserves inherent flavours of origin
  • Delicate, complex acidity and aroma
  • Allows tasting origin differences
  • Lower risk of defects


  • Involves large amounts of water
  • Can lack body or sweetness
  • Needs substantial manual labor
  • Longer processing time

For regions with ample water and local skills, washed coffee shines. But it must be done well to maximize quality.

Pros and Cons of Natural Coffee Processing

Natural processing prioritizes flavour while using less water. But there are tradeoffs:


  • Intense fruit flavours and sweetness
  • No water washing required
  • Faster processing time
  • Less manual labor involved


  • Can mask origin flavors
  • Risk of over-fermentation or mold
  • Very hands-on monitoring
  • More sorting required

Fans love the fruited sweetness, but the right climate and attentive drying is crucial for natural coffee.

Regions Known for Washed and Natural Coffee Production

Certain coffee-growing regions are better suited to each processing method based on climate, infrastructure, and tradition:

Washed Coffee Regions:

  • Central America – Costa Rica, Guatemala
  • East Africa – Kenya, Rwanda
  • India/Indonesia – Sumatran and Java beans

Natural Coffee Regions:

  • Brazil – Dominant method for Arabica
  • Ethiopia – Birthplace of natural processing
  • Hawaii – Ripe tropical climate

However, many areas like Colombia do both, and you’ll find exceptions. Specific farms matter most.

Roasting Considerations for Washed vs Natural Coffee

Roasters handle washed and natural beans slightly differently:

  • Charge Temp – Natural may need a lower charge temp of around 380°F to prevent baked flavors.
  • Development Time – Shorter development for naturals to keep fruit notes intact.
  • Final Temp – Lower finish temperature for naturals, around 420°F, to avoid char.
  • Blending – Natural beans are sometimes added to washed lots to boost body and sweetness.

The same adjustments don’t work for all beans. But roasters tailor small details to showcase the best attributes.

Cost and Availability of Washed vs Natural Coffee

Currently, washed Arabica coffee is the norm in specialty coffee, with naturals considered more niche:

  • Washed Arabica is widely available from almost all origins year-round. It represents 70-80% of high-end specialty coffee.
  • Natural coffees are more limited, sometimes produced only at certain times of year. They fetch higher prices at auction.
  • However, natural coffee is gaining popularity and becoming more frequently offered by retailers.
  • Expect to pay $1-3+ more per pound for natural vs washed coffees in retail.

As natural gains appreciation, costs will likely normalize. But for now, washed remains the standard.

Sustainability Impacts of Different Coffee Processing

Both methods have sustainability considerations:

  • Washed coffee’s heavy water use must be managed, like reusing discharge for irrigation.
  • Natural processing consumes less water but needs significant labor for cherry monitoring.
  • Mechanical drying, especially for naturals, uses fuel that increases the carbon footprint.
  • Eco-friendly practices like solar drying, wet mills with water recycling, and sustainable forest drying floors help.

Conscientious farmers work to mitigate environmental impacts, but washing’s water usage remains an inherent challenge.

Which Should You Choose – Washed or Natural Coffee?

When deciding between these processing methods, consider:

  • Your flavor preferences – washed for pure, acidic, complex or natural for sweeter, heavier body
  • The roast profile – lighter for washed, darker for naturals
  • Brewing method – naturals suit immersion like French press; washed work well for pour over
  • Environment – support eco-friendly farms
  • Price – naturals often cost $1-3+ more per pound

Both produce amazing coffee. Try coffees processed each way from various origins to identify your tastes. The journey continues with every sip!


Coffee processing is pivotal in the flavors we encounter in each cup. While washed and natural methods start the same with fresh cherries, meticulous processing differences create nuanced taste profiles. Washed coffees showcase pure origin characteristics, while naturals deliver sweetness and body. By understanding these foundations, we can better appreciate and evaluate the coffees we drink. Next time you savor a juicy natural or sparkling washed coffee, recognize the work involved to produce stellar results in the cup.


What’s the difference between washed and natural coffee?

Washed coffee removes the fruit flesh soon after picking and undergoes fermentation and washing. Natural coffee dries the intact cherry then removes the layers later.

Which tastes fruitier, washed or natural coffee?

Natural coffee processing increases sweet, fruity flavours due to compounds from the drying cherry matter. Washed coffee has more delicate, acidic notes.

Is natural coffee sweeter?

Natural coffee is typically sweeter and fuller-bodied because the fruit sugars are absorbed into the bean during drying. Washed processing removes these sugars.

Why is washed coffee more expensive?

Currently, washed Arabica coffee is more widely available. The niche demand for natural coffee means it sells for $1-3+ more per pound at retail right now. Prices may normalize as natural gains appreciation.

Which coffee needs more labour?

Washed coffee is more labour-intensive due to pulping, fermenting, and constant washing. Natural just requires attentive drying. But both require hard work!

Everything You Need to Know About Using Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just getting started, you’ve likely heard about the magic of using coffee grounds for plants. But how do you use them correctly? Dive into this comprehensive guide and discover how to leverage coffee grounds in your garden for lusher, healthier plants.

Summary: This article sheds light on the multiple benefits and methods of using coffee grounds for plants. Understand the dos and don’ts, and discover which plants thrive with a dose of caffeine. Read on and become a master of using coffee grounds in the garden and houseplants with coffee grounds.

Table of Contents

1. Why Use Coffee Grounds To Fertilize Your Garden?

Coffee grounds contain a treasure trove of nutrients that plants crave. They’re rich in nitrogen, an essential element that promotes healthy plant growth. Moreover, coffee grounds improve soil structure, enhance water retention, and can deter pests. But remember, while coffee grounds can be beneficial, it’s crucial to use them correctly. Overuse can lead to excessively acidic soil, which might not be ideal for all plants.

2. Compost Coffee Grounds As Fertilizer: The Basics

One of the most popular methods and safest way to use coffee grounds is to compost them. Adding coffee grounds to your compost pile enhances the organic matter, making it richer and more nutritious for plants. Furthermore, worms love coffee grounds! Having worms in your compost bin speeds up decomposition and produces high-quality compost. Ensure that you’re also adding paper coffee filters, which are biodegradable and provide additional carbon.

3. Put Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer: Pros and Cons

Many gardeners swear by the power of coffee grounds as fertilizer. Coffee grounds release nitrogen, potassium, and other essential nutrients as they decompose. However, it’s essential to remember that fresh coffee grounds can be quite acidic. Therefore, it’s best to compost coffee grounds first or mix them with other organic matter before adding them to the soil.

4. Which Plants Really Like Coffee Grounds?

Not all plants will benefit from coffee grounds. Acid-loving plants, like azaleas, blueberries, and hydrangeas, thrive when coffee grounds are mixed into the soil. These plants love the slight acidity that coffee grounds provide. On the other hand, plants like tomatoes prefer alkaline soil and might not respond well to coffee grounds.

5. Using Grounds Directly on Plants: Yay or Nay?

While many gardeners advocate for composting first, some use coffee grounds directly on plants on garden soil. You can mix with some coffee beans in whole form to allow water to pass. Sprinkle the grounds around the plants or mix the grounds into the soil to give plants a nitrogen boost. However, it’s essential to ensure that the grounds used are spent coffee grounds and not fresh grounds, which can be too acidic.

6. What About Indoor Plants and Coffee Grounds?

Houseplants can also benefit from coffee grounds. Sprinkling a thin layer of coffee grounds on top of the potting soil can deter pests and provide a slow-release nitrogen source. However, use coffee grounds sparingly for indoor plants to avoid over-fertilizing.

7. The Hydrangea and Coffee Grounds Connection

Hydrangeas and coffee grounds are a match made in garden heaven. The acidity from the grounds help influence the color of the plant’s blooms. Adding coffee grounds around can result in bluer flowers, a testament to the impact of soil pH on these beautiful plants.

8. Cons of Using Coffee Grounds For Plants: Any Downsides?

While coffee grounds on plants offer numerous benefits, there are potential cons. Excessive use of coffee grounds may lead to overly acidic soil, potentially harming plants that prefer neutral or alkaline conditions. Before making coffee grounds a regular part of your gardening routine, it might be wise to conduct a soil test to understand your garden’s needs.

9. Getting Creative: Garden Design with Coffee Grounds

Beyond nutrition, coffee grounds can also play a role in garden design. Using them as a mulch layer can create attractive, contrasting patches in flower beds, vegetable gardens, and around trees. Additionally, the rich brown color of coffee grounds can accentuate the green of your plants, making your garden more visually appealing.

10. Conclusion: How Much is Too Much Coffee Grounds In Your Garden?

Like everything in gardening, moderation is key. While coffee grounds are great for many plants, excessive use to fertilize plants can upset the soil balance. Regularly monitor your plants and adjust your coffee ground usage based on their needs. Remember, gardening is as much art as it is science. Trust your instincts and enjoy the process!

In Summary:

  • Coffee grounds are rich in nutrients like nitrogen and can enhance soil quality.
  • Compost your coffee grounds for the best results and to make them worm-friendly.
  • Not all plants benefit from coffee grounds; know your plants’ preferences.
  • Using coffee grounds can influence the color of hydrangea blooms.
  • Always monitor the amount and effect of coffee grounds on your garden to ensure optimal growth.

Happy Gardening!


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