If you consume coffee regularly, you’re familiar with its heavenly taste and inspirational buzz. One might find this habit as addictive as nicotine, but unlike cigarettes, coffee has many purported health benefits.
Legend has it coffee was discovered in Ethiopia by a goatherd, and first used to treat medical conditions. More than 1200 years ago in Africa, a new crop of users snacked on power bars made from coffee beans and wine distilled from coffee berry pulp. The coffee drink as we know it, however, took few hundred years to evolve. The Arabs learned of its aromatic flavors and cultivated, traded, and traveled with it to India, North Africa, and the Mediterranean, inspiring even more loyalty.
Coffee continues to gather a cult following – and the trend is only getting stronger. Coffee consumption has spawned monster franchises like Starbuck’s, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Dunkin Donuts, and Caffe Bene, a South Korean brand, all of which continue to expand to international frontiers and fetch billions.
Medical researchers have studied the positive and negative effects of caffeine, so now the questions are: What are the beneficial effects of the coffee bean on your health and appearance? And how much is too much? Is this an addiction we should break?
Anatomy of the Coffee Bean
The coffee bean comes in a few different varieties. The most popular is the Arabica bean, which grows close to the equator, yields a mild, aromatic drink and fetches the highest prices on the world market. The Robusta bean, typically found in instant coffee, has a much stronger flavor and is much more heavily-caffeinated. The beans you brew are actually the processed, roasted seeds of a fruit: the coffee cherry.
Coffee’s Health Benefits
Medical research has found that coffee contains powerful antioxidants and has many health benefits when consumed in moderation. Coffee is also said to stall the aging process: medical studies have found drinking coffee in moderation can halve the risk of liver, mouth and throat cancer, boost long-term memory, protect against diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. More recently, coffee and coffee beans have been used as special ingredients in many products we use daily.
Coffee’s Staying Power (Luxe Skincare and Cosmetics)
Coffee is a prime ingredient in some high-end skincare and beauty products. According to Cal Orey whose 2012 book The Healing Powers of Coffee is a great guide to everything café, coffee can soften, soothe, invigorate, exfoliate, and calm the skin, as well as reduce cellulite and puffy eyes.
BWB Beauty and Wellness Editor, Taylor Johnson, has put together a short list of some of the most amazing skincare and beauty products which utilize the coffee bean’s powerful antioxidants:
Well People’s Bio Correct Concealer contains organic algae, pomegranate and coffee seed, all of which are anti-aging ingredients that brighten, reduce puffiness, and restore elasticity.
Becca Cosmetics versatile Ombre Nudes Palette highlights green coffee seed oil as a skin brightening and smoothing ingredient. The matte shadows are free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates and can be used wet or dry. It’s our go-to product for an on-the-go routine.
Trilogy boasts similar benefits in their coffee-infused CoQ10 Eye Recovery Concentrate, a serum enriched with an array of other impressive oils, such as hydrating chia seed oil and antioxidant rich strawberry seed oil. Fragrance-free and portable, with a unique roll-on applicator, this serum is suitable for application throughout the day as needed both under and on top of makeup and moisturizers.
Edible Beauty & Velvet, an Australian brand, uses coffee extracts and other ethically sourced botanicals in their Velvet Coffee Butter, a rich and luxurious skin moisturizer formulated to revitalize and smooth the skin.
African Botanics Regenerating Body Hydro Serum is a super luxurious moisturizer that helps awaken, soothe, and rejuvenate all types of skin for you to feel your best. Not only do you reap the benefits of coffee seed oil in this thick and concentrated serum, but you also get your spa day-fix with aromatherapeutic thyme, peppermint, cypress, and cedar — all extracts which when applied produce a “cooling” sensation and sentiments of overall well-being.
Graydon is a luxury brand whose Superfood Mask & Scrub mixes coffee beans with anti-aging shiitake mushrooms, vitamins C and D2, healthy probiotics, and gentle exfoliators. The product is packaged in capsules that can be mixed with water, masks, or other cleansers to instantly brighten a tired complexion.
Coffee Buddy Scrub, from Australia, blends coffee with brown sugar, sea salt, and rich oils like coconut and mandarin peel to give you a divine natural glow.
Terra Mia’s Organic Coffee Soap promises skin relief for those with eczema, sensitive, and dry skin and suggests tone improvement with continued use. In addition to using raw ingredients such as nourishing raw goat’s milk and brightening honey, the 100% organic arabica granules work double-time to exfoliate dry surface skin.
And finally, how much is too much?
The FDA recommends adults consume no more than 400 mgs of caffeine a day, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee. But how much caffeine is safe can vary by individual weight, age, and overall health. The FDA recommends children and adolescents avoid caffeinated products altogether.
While skincare and beauty products don’t contain dangerous amounts of caffeine, it’s best to keep this in mind if your caffeine intake from other sources is high: whether sourced from the caffeine in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, colas, or even jelly beans.
feature photography by Kris Atomic