Caffeine 101: The Facts About Coffee, Energy Drinks and Caffeine

Goats—yes, goats—first discovered the remarkable effects of caffeine. Ethiopian goat herders noticed erratic behavior in their livestock whenever they ate of the cherries of the coffee plant. Centuries later, we take the pits of those cherries, dry them, roast them, and filter or steep them in hot water.

Many of us cannot start our day without it.

Cafe Latté with ArtIn recent years a flurry of new studies has heralded the positive health effects of coffee, and the good news continues. Regular coffee consumption may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers.

But the most recent studies have focused on the effects of the coffee bean itself, which is a natural product. When looking at the health benefits of coffee it’s important to remember that those benefits are for coffee itself, and not specifically the caffeine that’s in the coffee. And most studies indicate decaf coffee provides the same benefits. But the effects—good and bad—of caffeine is another matter altogether.

Most Americans have a need for a caffeine fix now and then. Consumption of caffeine increases alertness and decreases fatigue. The NCBI cites studies that caffeine “improves performance on vigilance tasks and simple tasks that require sustained response.” Regular caffeine users have demonstrated an increased level of mental function.

But it’s the negative effects of caffeine that have been long studied and long understood. Because it is a diuretic, some studies suggest that coffee drinkers increase their water consumption by eight ounces a day per cup consumed. Caffeine is known to increase the risk of hypertension, insomnia, and may exacerbate stomach ulcers.

In women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, caffeine is transmitted through the placenta and is present in breast milk.

And what about those coffee headaches? Yep, those are real. Because caffeine is an addictive substance, caffeine withdrawal can produce headaches, fatigue and a marked decrease in alertness. This is true whether you have your two cups every morning of if you are one of those people who nurse a series of Diet Cokes all day at work.

And then there are the energy drinks, which represent caffeine consumption for many people, including security guards and shift workers. While coffee has been shown in study after study to reduce chances of Type 2 diabetes, Men’s Heath says that it’s the antioxidants in the coffee that provide health benefits, not the caffeine. Energy drinks, therefore, do not have the health benefits that coffee does, and may actually increase risk of diabetes.

The high caffeine dosage in an energy drink taken in such a short period of time can spike your blood pressure whereas a cup of coffee most likely will not. And then there are cases of instant onset diarrhea associated with consuming high dosages of caffeine at once.

Finally, there is one effect contributed to caffeine that the FDA reports as not true: that caffeine can reduce the effects of alcohol. You should therefore seek something else to sober you up before driving home from the New Year’s party. That cup of black joe or can of instant energy won’t do the trick.

UP NEXT: Caffeine 101 Part Two: How Much Caffeine Are You Actually Consuming?

Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Center for Biotechnology Information, Brown University, Forbes Magazine, Men’s Heath Magazine, Food and Drug Administration.

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The Solution to Bad Office Coffee

Bad office coffee?

Yes, we feel your pain. Quite often the coffee at the office tastes like “brown water,” as Columbia’s Captain Telegram might say. And that’s often when it’s at its best.

At its worst, office coffee is harsh, bitter, and often charred from sitting on a hot burner for hours on end.

Solution? The French press for the office. This tiny personal-size press is perfect for today’s cubicle dweller. It delivers an excellent cup of joe (the French do know their coffee, after all), better than any pod can deliver, and you control the quality of your morning brew.

PressAnd it’s simple to use.

Add ground coffee. Coarsely ground, mind you. Finely ground coffee will muck up the works and make cleaning your press difficult. If you are not grinding your own, ask your coffee bean provider to grind your coffee for a French press.

Add hot water. Most commercial coffee makers have a hot water tap.

Steep about four minutes and voilà! You’re sipping a superior brew while your colleagues are slurping “brown water.”

And it’s easy to clean, provided you used the proper grind.

Personal size French Press: $10
Coffee beans: around $10 a bag, with a variety of single origins and blends to choose from.

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Supporting Our Troops

Hidden WoundsIf you have a close friend of family member who is serving in our armed forces, you understand the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make for our country. Personal sacrifices are but a small part of what our soldiers make for us. Many of our military personnel return from serving our country with wounds that are not visible to you or I. Hidden wounds.

Jamestown supports our military, and we do what we can to honor our troops. We have been honored with the presentation of two American flags given to us by Colonel Stephen Ritter, USAF, and LSC Kevin Hogan, US Navy, both of whom bravely served our country in war zones overseas. We are proud of our men and women in uniform.

While Hogan, a Jamestown regular, was deployed in Afghanistan, we kept in touch through phone calls and emails, and there was a running joke about Jamestown coming out with a Hogan’s Blend coffee, the label of which featured not our friend Hogan, but a photograph of Bob Crane of the Hogan’s Heroes television show.

It was good for a few laughs, but as it turns out our commitment to our armed forces took a serious turn when we had the opportunity to understand that many of our returning soldiers bring with them a great deal of baggage from the front.

Organizations like Wounded Warriors have performed great work in assisting our veterans and their families as our veterans adjust to life after serving in combat zones overseas. Hidden Wounds, a South Carolina-based organization that serves our veterans here at home, works with our service men and women who return suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Jamestown Coffee Company is proud to introduce Hogan’s Blend Coffee, in honor of not just LSC Hogan but all South Carolinians who have sacrificed and served our country. Our Hogan’s Blend coffee is available in store and at our website at Jamestown will donate $1 for each bag of Hogan’s Blend coffee to Hidden Wounds.

Hogan’s blend is available at our Columbia, South Carolina, store, or on at our online store.

To learn more about Hidden Wounds and the work that they do, go to


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‘Tis the Season

We at Jamestown Coffee are pleased with our new home in downtown Columbia. It’s been an adventure with our move from Lexington, getting to know new friends in downtown and reacquainting ourselves with old friends.

And in this holiday season we are thankful to be in that unique position where many of our customers are also our friends. That’s always been important to us. Sure, we’re a small business, and we’re happy to sell you your latté or travel mug or bag of beans. But we’ve always believed that where coffee is concerned it’s more than a mere transaction. It’s ritual, part of your day. Something to savor and enjoy. It’s who we are, you and us. We’re pleased to share with you what we believe is some of the best joe in town. And we want you to enjoy your experience with us.

So come by and see us at our new Jamestown Java café in Cromer’s Peanuts. Say hi, have a coffee, and let us wish you a merry Christmas. ‘Tis the season.

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Open For Business

Jamestown Java is now officially open in the Cromer’s building on Huger Street in Columbia. Our hope is that you’ll find time in your morning commute and your daily routine to stop in for great coffee, for good folks and for space to sit and think and take in the new environment.

And yes, our Palmetto Pecan Latte is just as good as ever, and the Pumpkin Pie Latte and Pumpkin Spice Latte is seasonal – and the Dirty Dan or “just a cup of coffee” are all available once again.

Jamestown wants to thank you for your patience as we worked through our pre-opening approvals with the city. Now that we’re open, we look forward to meeting new neighbors even as old friends swing by the our new neighborhood.

(FYI – we’re on Yelp, Foursquare, and all the usual online/mobile spaces – spread the word and enjoy the coffee!)

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Coffee and Change

A Jamestown café latté complete with barista art.

The team at Jamestown would like to thank everyone for their support, sympathy, and prayers. Although we have been working out details for Jamestown’s signature beverages to be served at a Columbia location for many weeks, the closing of our Lexington store was an unavoidable business decision made only this week. We are as saddened and surprised as you are. However, the pecan crop this year is particularly bountiful, so there are more Palmetto Pecan Lattés in our (and your) future.

Our store in Lexington may be closed but we are still serving online at If you are holding a gift card valued at $5 or more we’ll post information soon on how you can redeem your card for coupon codes or gift certificates at Jamestown Java.

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One Adventure Ends, Another New Adventure Begins…

From our Facebook page:

Jamestown Coffee is moving to Columbia in November. While we are going to miss our Lexington friends, the growth of the company into some new avenues prompted the move.

Thank you for your continued support and friendship as we move forward into the next big adventure. There will be more details on our FB page and web site in the days to come!

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