Does your morning routine include a cup of coffee (or two or three)?

Coffee culture is well and truly entrenched in South Africa, as evidenced by the numerous coffee spots and roasteries popping up across the country. But before you head out for your next Americano, flat white, or lattè, take a minute to consider some of the pros and cons of your morning cuppa.

The upside
The good news is that you don’t need to kick your daily dose of caffeine just yet. For one thing, coffee beans are rich in antioxidants called quinines, which keep cells healthy and fight diseases. And according to a recent National Institute of Health study, antioxidants could also account for the study’s results, which found that people who drink at least four cups of coffee a day are 10% less likely to be depressed than non-coffee drinkers.

Studies have also shown that drinking coffee regularly can reduce your risk of colon and liver cancer, type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, gall stones, and Parkinson’s disease. It has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Other research shows that coffee can boost your athletic performance, mood and energy levels, improve your memory, and reduce the incidence of dental cavities.

And more good news for the fairer sex is that women who drink at least three cups of coffee a day have less chance of getting skin cancer than women who don’t.

The downside
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. Coffee has been linked to LDL cholesterol, although the risk only seems to apply to coffee lovers who drink unfiltered coffee – filters appear to remove the problematic compounds present in coffee beans.

Coffee has also been linked to increased blood pressure, and dehydration, as well as an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. And then there’s the issue of caffeine withdrawal, which can lead to headaches, anxiety and fatigue – as anyone who’s missed their daily dose will know.

So where does that leave the coffee drinkers among us? Unless you’re pregnant (in which case you should chat to your doctor about how much caffeine is safe), or you suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease, it seems that a cup or two of coffee every day may not be a bad move at all. And that’s an excellent reason to order another cuppa.

Just one word of caution: Most of the results of coffee studies are based on black coffee, which means they don’t take into account the sugar and fat many of us add to our coffee. Something to bear in mind next time you’re considering a caffè mocha…