Coffee Makes You Smart, Sexy

Coffee makes you smarter, burns fat, and is good for your liver.


Regular commenter John Personna passes along more good news for coffee drinkers.

LifehackerThe Science Behind Coffee and Why it’s Actually Good for Your Health“):

Coffee Can Make You Smarter

Coffee doesn’t just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well. The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Caffeine’s primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. By blocking the inhibitory effects of Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine (12). Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function (3).


Coffee Can Help You Burn Fat and Improves Physical Performance

There’s a good reason why you will find caffeine in most commercial fat burning supplements. Caffeine, partly due to its stimulant effect on the central nervous system, both raises metabolism and increases the oxidation of fatty acids (456). Caffeine can also improve athletic performance by several mechanisms, including by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues (7,8). In two separate meta-analyses, caffeine was found to increase exercise performance by 11-12% on average (9, 10).


Coffee May be Extremely Good For Your Liver

The liver is a remarkable organ that carries out hundreds of vital functions in the body. It is very vulnerable to modern insults such as excess consumption of alcohol and fructose. Cirrhosis is the end stage of liver damage caused by diseases like alcoholism and hepatitis, where liver tissue has been largely replaced by scar tissue. Multiple studies have shown that coffee can lower the risk of cirrhosis by as much as 80%, the strongest effect for those who drank 4 or more cups per day (232425). Coffee may also lower the risk of liver cancer by around 40% (2627).

There’s much more at the original article, which I commend in its entirety. Considering that I’m usually suffering from sleep deficit and spend most of my waking hours in front of a computer—to say nothing of my fondness for whisky–this is good news, indeed.

FILED UNDER: Health, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Murray says:

    I can now rationalize my coffee addiction. Thanks.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I still think coffee is a vile poison.

  3. There is an old anecdote that someone once chastised Voltaire for drinking coffee, telling him, “Coffee is slow poison.”

    “It must be slow,” Voltaire replied. “I’ve been drinking it for sixty years and am not dead yet.”

    So now we have all these things proven good for health:

    1. Coffee
    2. Dark red wine
    3. Chocolate.
    4. Sex

    Well, three out of four ain’t bad.

  4. Mark Ivey says:

    Starbucks über alles…

  5. anjin-san says:

    Well, my only remaining vices are coffee and jazz, so this is good news.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    My only remaining vices are booze, legal medicinal herbs, cigars, failure to recycle, exceeding the speed limit, sloth, bacon and coffee. So this is good news.

  7. Murray says:

    @Mark Ivey: Starbucks is to coffee what KFC is to chicken.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    Beer, on the other hand, makes other people smart and sexy. At least if you drink enough of it.

  9. JKB says:


    Not even close. Starbucks is to hot milk with a hint of burnt coffee bean extract as KFC is to chicken.

  10. Davebo says:

    @JKB: Starbucks does indeed suck.

    But despite having over 20 thousand locations not one is a franchise. You have to admire their business acumen if not their product.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Peet’s is much better than Starbucks if you are going to hit a franchise coffee shop. Their original location on Vine St. in Berkeley is not too far down the road for me.

  12. anjin-san says:

    exceeding the speed limit

    Well yea, I guess I do that too. Luckily I have access to race tracks if I really want to get out of hand. You should come out to Sears Point sometime.

  13. Brett says:

    Oh, Coffee. Is there anything you can’t do?

    Aside from giving us unpowered flight.

  14. @Murray:

    Starbucks is to coffee what KFC is to chicken.

    Lies! Starbucks never gives me diarrhea!

  15. al-Ameda says:

    Finally, confirmation that I am a babe magnet through no fault of my own..

  16. Franklin says:

    All these benefits sound great. If I could get them without the taste of shit, it would be even better. Guess I’ll just stick to exercise for most of those benefits (yup, exercise helps your brain, too).

  17. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @anjin-san: Maybe being close to the original store is important. Where I live, you can’t tell Peet’s from Starbucks without a sign on the outside.

  18. JKB says:


    McDonald’s has a lot more franchises and does a lot more business, I still wouldn’t recommend them as a place for a decent hamburger though.

    Granted Starbucks wasn’t bad when they were just growing. I went there a lot in Seattle in the late ’80s. But by the mid-90s, even though university village had 3 Starbucks within 100 yards of each other, I would stop at the expresso stand under an awning just across the road for a better brew.

    I do find Starbuck’s new “blonde” ads amusing. They actually insult people who don’t like their carbonized charcoal “coffee”. I’ve burnt coffee roasting it but never to the degree they try to pass off.

  19. john personna says:

    Good timing, I’m on my second pint.

    @Donald Sensing:

    There are all kinds of crazy quotes from Europe as people try coffee for the first time, in their middle (or later) years. To a virgin brain it was apparently like cocaine. Probably priced like it too.

    Also see Bach’s Coffee Contata. (Lieschen secretly tells potential suitors that they must let her drink her coffee if they care to marry her.)

  20. john personna says:


    Starbucks dark roasts aren’t what they used to be. They are milding them out. You gotta go to Peets (or just Trader Joes).

    I had a book to go with my coffee roaster that showed general regional preferences. The coastal regions prefer darker roasts on average. The Pacific Northwest blends, centered around Italian Roast, are perfect for me. Simple cone filter. Black.

  21. john personna says:

    BTW, whatever you like, learn how to find it:

    Using Sight to Determine Degree of Roast

    You’ll be happier than just taking someone’s recommendation of “good” coffee. On this scale I’d be a Full City+ to Light French drinker.

    If you like mild coffees like Kona, you probably like City+

  22. G.A.Phillips says:

    Beer, on the other hand, makes other people . At least if you drink enough of it

    I got some friends that think it makes them smart and sexy:)

  23. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: I’ve bought both Peet’s and Starbuck’s at the grocery store and tend to prefer Starbuck’s; I prefer the very dark roasts (Verona, Sumatra, etc.). I don’t think I’ve ever found a roast at Trader Joe’s that I found drinkable; they all taste weak to me.

  24. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    Well, “weak” is all about how much you use. TJ’s dark roast Sumatran is good, but I’m fine with 3 scoops of beans, “Joe’s Dark Coffee,” for a big mug. Blue-grey can. $4.99

    (I put TJ beans through my expensive burr grinder, the pricey step before the cone filter.)

  25. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: I use a fair amount of coffee, ground rather fine. And use the same amount and grind for all coffee, so it’s at least a consistent comparison. (Essentially, for 10 cups, I fill the grinder to the brim and grind for 25 seconds. For 5 cups, 1/2 a grinder for 25 seconds.)

    I had a cheapish burr grinder for a while but never bothered to replace it when it gave out, so I now have just a standard issue blade grinder.

  26. john personna says:

    Sounds like you should experiment with stronger ratios when you find a coffee “weak.”

    My grinder was a splurge. But as I say I use it with a cheap red filter. For guests I use a bigger cone and a carafe.

    (A whirly grinder works fine, If you are patient and pulse.)

  27. john personna says:

    Very funny “markets in anything” … if a cheap red filter doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, you can get a $200 teak pour-over stand to hold a glass or ceramic cone that does the same.

  28. JKB says:

    Well, different varieties of coffee peak at different roasts. So dark roast or light roast really depends on the coffee. I don’t roast my own as much anymore but it was nice having the variety of small batch personal roast and trying coffee from all over and from different farms even changing every day or so.

    I use a hand burr grinder. Also, a bit of a splurge but I avoid that racket first thing in the morning. Although it can be a pain on occasion, there is something satisfying about the routine. I guess the ritualistic aspect?

    I have several ways to brew depending on my mood but normally use my Technivorm drip machine as it heats the water to the proper temperature unlike other drip machines.

  29. Mikey says:

    Since my last trip to Germany in August, I use one of these. Seems like everyone over there has one. After a couple weeks drinking coffee out of those, we came back home and found drip coffee rather disappointing…

  30. john personna says:


    A gas stove and a whistling kettle give me my “ritual” aspect.

    (If I didn’t have an electric burr grinder, I’d look at a hand grinder.)