Is it the Coffee or the Caffeine? : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Monday Aug 6 | BY |
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coca leavesI think some coffee drinkers would benefit from some mineral-rich coca tea — but you can’t get it in the U.S.

Like I promised, clarifications, answers and deeper insight into my coffee experiment that seemed to hit at just the right time for many of you…

Since there are about ten major concepts you asked about, I’m going to jump right into them.

They cover how much coffee I drank, if I took blood tests, why some people can drink coffee and others can’t, am I targeting the coffee or the caffeine and more.

Here we go (I had a little bit of fun with these, so I hope you enjoy)…

1. Is caffeine the culprit or the coffee?

Paul thinks…

“Interesting… sounds like caffeine is the culprit here. I wonder, did you ever try the experiment with Swiss water washed decaffeinated coffee?”

Yes, Paul, I’m pretty sure it is the caffeine.

Coffee, for me, is not a few parts of a whole. When I want coffee, I want everything it gives me — including buzz and following adrenal strain. This is why I quit, again.

So I’m sure there are decaffeinated coffees that would taste good, but not have the buzz — but as I wrote at the beginning of my article, I like everything about coffee — including the caffeine.

For those who do drink decaffeinated coffee, be sure to know how your coffee is decaffeinated. Do some research, you may find out that the caffeine is removed using toxic or undesirable chemicals. (I don’t like Wikipedia as a source, but it’s a good starting point to do your own research on decaffeinated coffee – here.)

2. How many cups?

Dana wants to know…

“How many cups a day did you have during your experiment?”

I never had more than one cup of coffee and one shot of espresso at any time during the experiment.

Most of the time, it was either a single or double shot of espresso or a small cup of coffee.

Toward the end, I did start having a “red eye” occasionally (and literally) — which is one small cup of coffee and one shot of espresso.

I wouldn’t consider this a large amount of coffee to American standards, so I think my experiment — and my personal reaction to the coffee — is relevant, even if the coffee is organic, drip, pour-over, cold-pressed, fair-trade, or whatever other distinction the marketers want to make.

(Organic and fair-trade are, of course, the only coffee you should drink if you do. It’s the right thing to do for the world and for your health.)

3. Why do some people not react to coffee?

Raf wants to know…

“My husband drinks about 24 oz a day and can sleep at night after a cup at dinner. Is that a problem or do some experience more negative effects than others??”

Raf, I seriously think your husband is an alien. I know people like this. I don’t understand how this works. If I drink a cup of coffee after dinner, I’m up until breakfast.

This is a perfect example of how our bodies process different chemicals in different ways. I don’t know if he has superior function or the opposite, but it’s a perfect lesson and wake-up call for those who think we all work the same.

(Yes, the use of “wake-up” was intentional.)

4. How did I make the coffee?

Roger asks…

“Kevin, how did you make coffee?”

I didn’t make the coffee at all. I had no tools or utensils to do so in our apartment.

I tried all different types though from various vendors.

Cold-pressed, pour-over, espresso, drip, etc.

My physical reaction to all of them did not seem to be any different.

Now, I’m sure that there are subtleties that I didn’t pick up on, but the whole of the issue was that, for me, coffee just doesn’t seem to work — not only for what it chemically is, but what it does to me mentally.

5. Why did you drink more?

Manwel wants to know why I couldn’t just drink one shot of espresso…

“Kevin, you were doing quite well on one shot a day, things seemed to change when you doubled your dose. It seems like moderation is the key, same what happened with your chocolate experiment – you over-did it.”

Manwel, put me on a couch, hypnotize me and maybe I’ll crack. I have no idea why I over-did it.

Like I said above, for me, it’s not just the physical chemicals in coffee that are addictive. It’s the way it makes me feel.

I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to this.

Some people can do moderation well, others can’t.

I can do moderation for some things very well. Other things, I struggle. This is my nature.

I’m envious of those who can just have a cup of coffee two times a week.

My experiment wasn’t only, as I explained in the article, to just examine the health benefits (or negative effects) of coffee — it was to also examine if I could quit if I found it to be unhealthy for me.

That to me — regardless of the medium — is really the value of this exercise.

But, Manwel, back to your assertion. Yes, I’m sure for some, coffee in moderation is perfectly OK for some.

6. Espresso vs. Drip Coffee

Sarah wants to know the difference…

“I’m curious if you noticed any difference when you drank the espresso versus the drip coffee?”

Definitely taste… LOL! 🙂

The single shot of espresso, to me was the least amount of coffee — as well as the least amount of caffeine. So for me, this was the least “toxic” to my body and mind.

The challenge was that after I lost the buzz from the single shot, I needed to upgrade.

This is where it got messy.

In terms of caffeine, in case you’re interested, an ounce of espresso has anywhere from 40-75 mg of caffeine while an 8 ounce cup of coffee has 95-200 mg. That’s a pretty significant difference. (These numbers vary greatly, but these are from the Mayo Clinic.)

7. Are they giving medals to martyrs?

Mary wants to know…

“Your journey was interesting in that it proves the lesson that if something hurts, you should stop doing it. I wonder if you went on despite the damage to your body just to prove a point. Are they handing out gold medals for martyrs these days?”

No, they aren’t. But they are handing them to Michael Phelps — possibly the greatest Olympian ever. His experiment (bong hits + Olympic level swimming) is an interesting one. Could he have been better and won more medals? Or does hanging loose a little allow him to be the best ever at what he does?

Something to think about…

In the past, I’ve gone too far to prove a point with my health. These days, I’m much more conscious of when I step over the line.

8. What were the blood test results?

Alice wanted to know…

“Did you get blood tests? if so, what did they show?”

Great question, Alice!

No, I didn’t need to get the blood tests.

My symptoms of adrenal stress — cold and clammy hands, jitters, etc. were exactly the same as they were when I was eating too much chocolate (and when I watch close Steelers games.) They are distinct signs of the adrenal “red zone” that I shouldn’t be in — and that caused my poor adrenal blood tests in the past.

I didn’t need to spend the money on new tests to confirm that this is where I would go if I continued.

9. Is it the source of caffeine or the caffeine?

Great question from John…

“Do other sources of caffeine have fewer effects than what Kevin experienced with his coffee experiment?”

I think so, John.

First, of course, you have to consider how much caffeine is in the food or drink — and then you may be able to consider how the caffeine is in solution with other nutrients. I’m sure there is variation in some cases that could be more helpful to the body that in others.

10. Coffee from behind?

Finally, Rocio wants to know about coffee enemas…

“Kevin, have not read the other posts yet… the same for me, but even the coffee enemas if they are too strong make me very, very sick. Does anyone has the same reaction?”

Rocio, you can absorb the caffeine through your colon, so, yes, you could get a similar reaction.


If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them here… if I get more I’ll address them this week… if not, this topic is done (and I’m off to the next experiment.)

Your question of the day: Do you have any other questions on coffee or my experiment?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Dan says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I also wondered about the effects of the coffee enema on adrenals. Dr Sheri Roger’s has written about the subject and to her the caffeine does not get absorbed into general circulation. She reasons that because of her alergic reaction to coffee if consumed in miniscule amounts, she is able to do a coffee enema without any alergy reaction. So, now that you Kevin, know your bodies response to the consumption of caffeine now would be an excellent time to do the experiment with the coffee enema. Also, I like the phrase “If you don’t push yourself to your limits you will never know how far you can go.” Keep on pushing it! I’m not good with moderation either and I believe those who can drink coffee and sleep have a very imbalanced nervous system excessively dominant to the parasympathetic side. I’m more sympathetically inclined so very little stimulants go a very long way in my nervous system. 1 Shot of espresso every couple of months.

  2. Karen says:

    Kevin, do you think it could be possible that acidity may have had a role to play in either your coffee or your chocolate experiments?

  3. Terese says:

    I too have had an off again, on again love affair with coffee. I learned over the years I became addicted. I would have a cup, then tell myself that’s all I was having. The following day, usually a Sunday, I would tell myself, I’ll only drink it on the weekends. Monday would come and I found myself saying, okay, I’ll include Mondays too. Before I knew it I was drinking it daily again. So for me, I don’t do well with moderation of coffee drinking.

    This year I started reading and hearing about the benefits of drinking white tea. It has less caffeine than both black tea and green tea. When I learned it helps burn fat, I decided to give it a try. I enjoy it. Apparently it’s the Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) that is the active ingredient to turn you into a fat burning machine. I enjoy the mild flavor.

  4. Anthony says:

    It seems that issue is of different personality and body types. The combination of a very mellow person with very strong adrenals from birth would be able to drink coffee and not get so ‘used up’ adrenal exhaustion. Where the hyper type personality with weak adrenals at the start would weaken more easily. The straw that breaks the camels back could be the coffee for the more excitable personality with already deficient adrenals. It takes all kinds. I often remind a person that is in a relationship with one who has no problem with any libation or stimulant that they are not the same and have different chemical sensitivities for various reasons.

  5. Mary says:

    Just because Michael Phelps was seen ONCE getting a hit off a bong did not make him a better or worse athlete, or better or worse person. Yet, so many people can’t get that image out of their heads. The man is a wonder-man, a marvelous example of athleticism and a generous, kind person who happens to be the best swimmer EVER! Forgive.

  6. liz says:

    Hi Terese, But did you lose fat? 🙂

  7. LynnCS says:

    I am a person with weak adrenals and a problem concentrating (mild ADD.) I tend to get cold and tired. I have trouble sleeping and trouble waking up when I do sleep. All these seem to be better when I have one cup of strong French Roast by Javatopia Organic, Bird Friendly coffee first thing in the morning. It straightens me right out. I have tried others. It doesn’t work as well. I think coffee is medicine. Good that it tastes wonderful and is good going down as well. I use a one cup Melita drip cone. I am very happy to have found the benefits of my one cup. I used to be on and off again with coffee. I see now that I would get carried away with it and start drinking more and more, leading to having to quit. So far, so good!

  8. Steph says:

    What about instant coffee? What are your thoughts about it?

  9. Kevin says:

    Whoa….your a Steelers Fan?!!!

    • Penny says:

      He’s a smart man 🙂

      I have similar problems with coffee/caffeine. I love coffee, but the effects on my stomach are extreme if I have it more than once a week. I also learned recently that it affects circulation. I find I’m warmer if I don’t have it (I have reynaud’s syndrome).

  10. Karen Beattie says:


  11. Cherie says:

    Interesting question about Phelps. Help to stay loose or harm. If harm. Harm to just himself and/or also the children idolizing him? hummm.

  12. Pamela says:

    Hi. If it’s the caffine and not the coffee, do you/people in general find that regular black tea has the same effect? Og is there a difference? And what would milk (goats milk) do to change the effect that coffee or black tea has?

  13. Pamela says:

    Also: I am one of those people who can drink lots of coffee right up until Bertine and go right to sleep. I don’t notice any difference unless I drink LOTS of coffee on an empty stomach (then I can sometimes Get an upset stomach). But I have always had brittle nails – no matter what diet I eat. Can coffee make nails brittle do you Think?

  14. John Michael says:

    I’ve had a love affair with coffee on and off for about 30 years…or, since coffee actually had greater variety in flavors and origin.
    Now I live in Thailand and I daily drink organic coffee (peaberry blend) from the North with very little caffeine for whatever reason and I add a touch of cinnamon and Himalayan salt and some freshly squeezed almond milk. Once in a while I add some organic longan honey. This with my rice bread toast with coconut oil and Himalayan salt makes a yummy AM beginning. I only make with a French press avoiding cooking with electricity.

  15. Cirsten Awaja says:

    @Pamela. For me anything hot with caffeine it (coffee, black tea, green tea) has the same effect. It makes me shakey from the inside and out. But only when the drink is hot. I can drink ice coffee and ice tea without getting the same result.
    About the milk thing: some time ago I read about some research wherein it was concluded, that what ever positive effects people had from drinking coffee or tea would disappear, if they put milk in their drink.

  16. jm says:

    Our experience with coffee: I quite coffee b4 my wife. I used to drink about 12 or more cups a day, black and no sugar. I did quite for no reason, just was told for many years that it was not healthy. My wife was getting some pain on her breast. She did an experiment an also quite coffee, started getting some headache, but within two weeks all or her pain was gone. We’ve been doing coffee enemas every day for many years, we feel no reactions. It keeps us clean.

    You all are bless


  17. JW says:

    From everything I’ve read and experienced, it’s not just the caffeine, it’s also the coffee that can cause problems. Coffee, both regular and decaf, is acidic and can cause the same aggravation to the body that all acidic foods cause — but we don’t normally ingest the same acidic foods everyday the way we do coffee. I’ve also read that adding milk causes coffee to turn to a leathery substance in the stomach causing upset for many people.
    I’ve sure enjoyed reading about all the substitutes used to replace a daily cup of coffee — I look forward to trying them!

  18. jm says:

    the word above is quit, not quite.

  19. Thanks for further explaining the “coffee experiment.”

    Interesting point about Phelps and keeping loose 😉

    I can’t wait to see what you’re going to experiment with next!

    Have a great week Kev!

  20. violet says:

    thanks for this, kevin. i learned a lot from the comments and your experiment. i grew up on steroids and amphetimins for my asthma and i need to drink coffee to feel normal, as one poster explained about cortisol production. i’ve quit a few times for fasts, but always go back because i am so cranky and depressed without it. i have renewed inspiration to quit, or at least cut down, from this discussion.

  21. bankopogist says:

    I have a hard time believing that it’s not ok to drink but its totally cool to shove up my bum. Sounds like an episode of south park. I’ll take my one cup a day topside thank you very much. But whatever floats your bum… I mean boat.

  22. hubert says:

    There have been experiments done with people who can’t sleep after a cup of coffee and people who claim not to feel anything and can go to sleep just as well. They both had a similar reaction to the coffee, they both slept less deep. Just the non-reactor slept that deep that he didn’t rise above his/her treshold. Without the coffee he/she would have slept better/deeper. (ref: Stanley Coren)

    As far as the difference between hot and cold coffee (or enema’s for that matter): cooling down water (with it’s solvents) is taken up much faster by the cells of the body than plain cold food or drink. The reason why many people need something hot. It’s a kind of a drug to them (most people that is, except for the raw foodies). They need the fast result, the kick.

  23. Ann says:

    Hey Kev, I buy coca tea from Hidalgo Foods, which is in the US. My experience with coca tea is that is was kinda watery – didn’t have much body, but was mildly lifting in the afternoon.

  24. Kym says:

    Just in relation to why some people can sleep after drinking coffee (or any caffeinated beverage) at night: it’s genetic and you can actually be tested to see how you process caffeine. If you metabolize caffeine quickly, even considering the acidity (which varies significantly by type of coffee, btw), overall, coffee is likely to be healthy for you. If you metabolize caffeine slowly, coffee, etc. can have detrimental effects on your heart.

    Epigenetics is a fascinating area. Of course, to find out how you process caffeine, you need to have a genetic profile created. But costs are coming down rapidly on this and it should be fairly affordable within just a few years.

  25. Brittni says:

    I used to be able to drink coffee and it would make me sleepy… (my mom was the same way!)

    Teas would give me energy.. (I used to drink some black tea every morning… I’m not sure how i did it, I can’t even have a drop of it anymore!)

    Now that I’ve been on the health nut thing for 6-7 years and have recovered from adrenal fatigue
    I am really sensitive to tea & chocolate.. I haven’t tried drinking coffee, because I’m scared to!

    Coffee enemas don’t give me any caffeine effects.. In the past I ‘thought’ they did… Now I think it was because I was detoxing copper & toxins from liver.

    And I can only have one companies milk chocolate, with no ill effects.

    I have a naturally high energy personality, so I used to think coffee made me sleepy because I already had so much energy.. Haha… Now I don’t want to put so much extra strain on my adrenals, because i know my personality is enough work for my adrenals to keep up with..

  26. Wendy Eden says:

    Hi Kevin, I can hardly believe I am now 6 1/2 weeks without coffee….hip hip hooray!!! I have been looking for the best substitute that will give me that flavor and oh….that aroma that I miss!!! I feel like a 12 step AA member afraid Im going to “pick up”. It has taken me years to stop as I am also one of those that get crazed always looking for my next fix. And funny enough for years I eat at least 1/2 to 2/3 of my diet high quality raw vegan evry day and still the craving for coffee was always there. I do understand that there are other areas in my life that I am looking to fill with coffee , and I called it my baby bottle on occasion, and I also have other romantic ideas associated with coffee. As far as it being healthy I do not feel that it is necessary or that it is a health food. And now it is being touted as heard recently on Dr. Oz as the new MIRACLE weight loss cure !!! For weight loss they say it is the unroasted variety. I had been wanting to get off of coffee for years as I blame it for increasing my weight as it creates cortisol, adrenal fatigue, and perhaps estrogen dominance which I felt throws the whole female hormonal balance out of whack. that was always my instinct. As i don’t get my numbers checked I am not sure at this point. I feel better in that i am not looking for my next fix and I think my energy is slightly better. I have not had any weight loss though which is disappointing. Anyway I am doing GREAT!!! Thats my story, may it give someone else the will power to move into a world without coffee addiction!!!

  27. Sundaram says:

    Hi Everyone,
    I have heard that if you leave the coffee enema inside for more than 15 minutes it can give a strong effect. They do recommend you hold it a while for the full effect, but release it after ten or twelve minutes to avoid the coffee effect.

    Also some sensitive bodies can use less coffee in the original coffee recipe:

    Gerson Coffee Enema:
    The caffeine opens the duct that goes into the liver and detoxifies it and that is the whole purpose of taking the coffee enema.
    Remember that Gerson therapy is for people with cancer so they need this strong method to clean out the liver as soon as possible. We follow their “Preventive” therapy in which coffee enema is still recommended.

    Normal recipe is 3 T ORGANIC coffee powder and 1 quart (32 oz) of water…..
    But For sensitive person, start with 1 T ORGANIC coffee powder (or even 1/2 T for the first time) and 1 quart (32 oz) of water….

    Bring water to a boil and put in the coffee powder.
    Boil for 3 minutes and simmer for 15 minutes.
    Cool and strain the coffee powder out.
    Add water till the enema bag is full.

    Once in, try to hold the coffee liquid inside for 12 to 15 minutes (or just less than 15 minutes)
    Lie on the right side and bring the knees up and head to knees (or as close as you can)
    Lay like that to squeeze the liver.

    After the cleanse, have carrot and apple and ginger juice, or a green drink…both with Acidophilus to restore intestinal flora.
    After the enema you have to drink Carrot juice and may be eat some yogurt too to replace some of the good bacteria in the intestines.

    Hope this helps someone out there.
    Wishing you the best in health,

  28. Kevin I just wish to know where are u from and when were u born. Please submit this information to my email. I would very much apreciate it. many thanks.

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