Is Espresso Bad For You (Here’s The Answer)

If you are wondering, ‘Is espresso bad for you?’ here is the extensive and in-depth information you need to make an informed decision. Read on to find out more.

Is Espresso Bad For You (Here's The Answer)
A regular double shot of espresso has approximately 60-100mg of caffeine.

A recent Italian study was reported in a leading British newspaper concluding that ‘a single espresso a day can damage the heart’. It further said that a cup packed with caffeine was enough to reduce blood flow to the heart by 22 percent. If you are an espresso lover, these headlines can ring a bell of alarm and make your heart skip a beat. Let’s dig into the facts before depriving ourselves of espresso.

So, is espresso bad for you? The answer is both yes and no. The Italian researchers did find a poorer dilation response of arteries and a slight spike in blood pressure after drinking espresso. However, it’s worth noting that the study was conducted with a small sample of 20 subjects, and the implications were measured 36 minutes after drinking espresso.

As per the National Coffee Association (NCA), a regular double shot of espresso has approximately 60-100mg of caffeine. Numerous pieces of evidence show that consuming coffee in moderation (400-500mg of caffeine daily) is generally safe. So, the headlines published in the newspaper did not reflect the actual story.

Espresso Vs Coffee: What’s The Major Difference

Wait…isn’t espresso coffee? Well, yes! While espresso is a type of coffee, not all coffees are espresso. Even though all coffee beverages are derived from coffee beans, the roasters prefer high-quality coffee beans processed in a special way to deliver that unique caffeine kick in a cup of espresso.

When discussing the difference between espresso and coffee, we can say that it’s the style of preparation that sets them apart. Most of the styles of brewing coffee involve slow filtering of hot water through coffee grounds. This means you have to wait for several minutes before you get to enjoy your cup of Joe.

The espresso machines, on the other hand, shoot pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee beans that are tampered into cakes. It results in an extremely complex, caffeine-packed, and aromatic cup of mud in less than thirty seconds. The use of ‘pressure’ creates that signature crema over an espresso and adds rich coffee oils to the final shot.

A coffee machine dispensing Espresso.
For a perfect cup of espresso, you must grind the beans fine and make a coffee bed or cake out of it.

Besides the pressure of hot water, the second important factor that determines the texture and taste of espresso is the fine coffee beans. The size of the grounds is of great importance. For a perfect cup of espresso, you must grind the beans fine and make a coffee bed or cake out of it. Small size grounds expose more area to hot water for efficient brewing.

Is Espresso Bad For You: Benefits Of Drinking An Espresso

Coming back to espresso, the benefits and downsides of drinking a cup of espresso have been a topic of debate among coffee lovers and critics. So, after extensive research, we have created a list of all the possible benefits and disadvantages of drinking espresso on a regular basis.

Espresso Can Give You A Daily Boost Of Energy

Are you the kind of person who wears a ‘don’t-talk-to-me-before-I-take-my-first-sip’ look in the morning? Studies have shown that drinking a cup of espresso can give you that kick of instant caffeine that reaches the brain receptors and gives neurons a quick boost of energy. It also creates a spike in adrenaline to help you feel energized for your morning workout or exercise.

However, too much caffeine may lead to a less acute response. Hence, we strongly suggest that you stick to a morning espresso or two in the morning and avoid drinking coffee in other times of the day. If you follow this routine, you will be able to feel energized throughout the day with your daily boost of espresso and prevent its negative impact.

Espresso Can Help Cut The Fat

If you have been trying to lose weight, a cup of espresso in the morning can help you with this. Your cuppa is filled with magnesium and potassium; both use your body’s insulin to regulate the level of blood sugar. When your blood sugar remains steady, this will reduce untimely food cravings for snacks and unhealthy food.

While coffee helps with losing fat, ensure you do not load up your cup with lots of cream and sugar. This will negate any weight loss effect that drinking coffee has on your body and result in increasing the weight instead.

Espresso Can Help You Stay Young

A strong double shot of espresso is packed with antioxidants that are much more than vegetables and fruits in a regular American diet. They contain a wide range of antioxidants that can protect your body from the constant attack by free radicals that cause damage to the cells.

Espresso Can Help You Stay Young
Espresso can give you that kick of instant caffeine.

The antioxidants include Polyphenols, Hydrocinnamic Acids, Melanoidins, and Cafestol. They not only help in neutralizing the free radicals in the body but also help you stay younger and healthier for longer while preventing different types of diseases. Although all coffee beans contain antioxidants, the specially roasted ones are known to have a higher percentage.

Espresso Reduces Your Risk of Getting Type 2 Disease

A study conducted at Harvard University revealed that those who increased their intake of espresso coffee reduced the risk of getting type-2 diabetes by 11 percent. On the contrary, those who decreased their intake of espresso increased their risk of getting the disease by 17 percent. The reason behind this change is yet to be proven.

Drinking too much coffee can also have an impact on a diabetic patient’s glucose and insulin sensitivity. Studies have also shown that coffee is capable of bringing about a rise in blood sugar levels, so make sure you drink with caution and in moderation, if you are already diabetic.

Drinking Espresso Can Boost Long-Term Memory

A study conducted by Neuroscientist Michael Yassa has indicated that the presence of caffeine in espresso helps in improving the long-term memory of humans. It also protects the brain from neurodegenerative diseases (death of neurons in the brain) that are caused due to aging.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010 showed that drinking coffee regularly can help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease by 65%. Another research results indicated that individuals who drink coffee regularly can lower the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease by 32-60%. Protecting your brain from neurodegenerative diseases, coffee also decreases the risk of developing dementia.

Espresso Can Boost Mood and Keep Depression Away

Here’s an uplifting fact for you! The caffeine that gives us that kick in the morning also works as a stimulant. Every time you drink a cup of espresso, the caffeine blocks adenosine, one of the brain hormones responsible for depression. This helps in releasing other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine.

Friends drinking Espresso Coffee
Meeting for coffee is a favorite activity for friends.

These amazing effects of a caffeine-packed drink can reduce tiredness, boost your alertness, and improve your mood. A study conducted at Harvard University showed that espresso drinkers have a 20% less risk of becoming mentally depressed. Interestingly, coffee drinkers around the world are 53% less likely to commit suicide.

Espresso Can Decrease Risk Of Certain Types Of Cancer

As a coffee lover, you perhaps don’t need a reason to enjoy your cup of mud. However, if you are looking for reasons to justify your caffeine cravings, here are some. A study published in the American Gastroenterological Association’s Gastroenterology (2007) mentioned that drinking coffee regularly can protect you from liver cancer.

Other studies have also indicated that drinking coffee regularly can decrease the risk of prostate cancer in men by 53 percent. It can also help in lowering the risk of getting other types of cancer such as liver cancer, breast cancer, colorectal, head, and neck cancer.

A Cup Of Espresso A Day Can Keep Liver Diseases Away

Multiple studies have shown that drinking caffeinated coffee beverages or espresso can reduce your risk of getting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, liver cancer, or cirrhosis. People who drink coffee regularly also have a lower risk of getting gallstone disease. Those with kidney diseases can also breathe easily as they are not required to cut off coffee from their regular diet.

Espresso Can Reduce The Risk Of Untimely Death

Many lives around the world are lost due to premature deaths caused by various diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, liver, and lung disease. Studies have shown that drinking coffee daily can reduce the risk of untimely death in men by 12% and in women by 16%.

Even if you drink just one cup of espresso in the morning daily, you can decrease your risk of premature death by 5-6 percent. Isn’t that a reason to rejoice and celebrate your cuppa?

Drinking Espresso Can Improve Your Oral Health

If you have heard about coffee staining teeth and fretted about it, then it’s time to be happy now. The stains are a cosmetic effect and do not indicate health issues due to drinking a cuppa every day. Recent studies have shown that antioxidants found in coffee make your teeth less adhesive.

This means bacteria cannot hold on to your teeth for much longer. This helps in reducing the bad odor and also keeps your teeth cleaner. So, overall it helps in improving oral health.

Disadvantages Of Drinking Espresso Daily

Having looked at the numerous benefits of enjoying a cup of Joe every morning, let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of drinking espresso.

young businessman having chest pain
Espresso can cause a spike in Cholesterol levels.

Causes A Spike In Cholesterol Levels

The effect is indirect in nature. Espresso does not contain cholesterol, but it acts indirectly by regulating the way in which your body regulates cholesterol levels. It contains an antioxidant called cafestol that impacts the way in which your body regulates cholesterol, leading to a spike in its levels.

Having espresso once or twice a day may not have much effect, but if you are already on the higher side of cholesterol levels, we would suggest that you exercise caution. You may want to consider the other alternatives, such as an American-style coffee pot that has lower cafestol levels.

May Result In Sleeping Difficulties

If you are an espresso aficionado who craves a double shot even after the morning hours are past, you might experience sleeping difficulties or insomnia. This is a common problem faced by those who drink caffeinated drinks several times a day. Caffeine works as a stimulant that interferes with sleep hormones, keeping you up at night.

A study conducted by a Florida doctor, David C. Broder, showed that once caffeine gets into your body, it can take at least six hours for half of it to leave your system. While an espresso in the wee hours of the morning may be acceptable, taking one or two late afternoon or evening cuppas may cause insomnia and restlessness.

Not Good For Pregnant Women

You will probably sacrifice a lot of things you love eating when you are expecting, and espresso might just be one of them. Several studies have indicated that a high amount of caffeine may cause miscarriages in pregnant women. However, more studies and research need to be done in order to confirm this.    

As per BabyCenter, when you drink a lot of coffee, the high amount of caffeine gets into the amniotic fluid in your placenta. Thus, it finds a way to your baby’s bloodstream. While an adult’s body is capable of metabolizing caffeine, a fetus has a hard time dealing with it.

May Cause A Spike In Blood Sugar Levels

Wooman  having a headache
Too many caffeinated drinks may cause an increase in the blood sugar levels in your body.

Espresso is known to be good for your heart health when taken in moderation. On the flip side, too much caffeinated drinks may cause an increase in the blood sugar levels in your body. This is based on a theory that caffeine can block a hormone that helps keep the arteries in good shape.

The key is to know where to draw a line and stop overindulgence, which can be bad for your health. Experts recommend up to 450 milligrams of caffeine on average for a healthy adult. However, please bear in mind that every individual has a different metabolism capacity, so this number may vary slightly.

May Cause Stomach Issues

Not everyone can tolerate too many caffeinated drinks. Individuals with stomach, esophageal, or intestinal issues may be sensitive to the acidity caused by espresso drinks. Upon exposure to the sensitive tissues, this might cause a burning sensation.

The good news is that you don’t have to give up your favorite drink completely. Instead, you may consider switching your morning cuppa from espresso to French roast and other varieties of dark-roasted coffees that are less irritating due to a compound called N-methylpyridium.

You May Get Addicted To It

Well, like everything that you love and are obsessed about, there’s a fair chance that you might get addicted to your cup of morning Joe. Some people get so dependent on the caffeine in their espresso that they find it difficult to start the day normally if they run out of coffee beans or can’t have the beverage for any other reason.

While drinking coffee has a lot of health benefits, getting addicted to drinking several cups a day can be harmful. It might lead to increased anxiety levels, restlessness, lack of sleep, and so on.

Tips To Make A Healthier Espresso Every Day

  • Avoid adding sugar and other harmful ingredients , such as cream, to your coffee, as it reduces the benefits.
  • Always choose the organic coffee brand of beans to ensure that you don’t get the varieties that are heavily sprayed with pesticides.
  • Consider adding cacao dark chocolate to your cuppa for that extra chocolatey edge that enhances both the taste and health benefits.
  • Limit yourself to one or two small cups of espresso in the morning. Have it with biscuits and cinnamon sticks.
  • To enjoy more health benefits, enjoy your coffee as straight black without any milk.
  • A small cup of espressosurrounded by biscotti, cinnamon sticks, and coffee beans
  • Enjoy your coffee as pure and concentrated as possible by choosing a French press style.
  • If you have a sensitive stomach, opt for cold-brewed coffees that are less acidic.
  • If you are high on cholesterol, opt for the American-style coffee pot to enjoy healthier coffee.

Related Questions

Can the benefits of espresso last long term?

After weighing both the sides – pros and cons, we feel that the benefits of espresso clearly outshine the disadvantages if you consume in moderation. However, the benefits may not be long term. If you drink caffeinated beverage several times a day, you can develop a tolerance to its health benefits and start experiencing some negative impacts.

How much coffee is too much?

If you drink more than four cups of coffee a day, this can be excessive consumption and result in some of the negative effects that we have mentioned above. We suggest that you stick to four cups of espresso if you are a healthy adult. Those who mild health issues may keep it to 1 to 2 cups in the morning, and avoid sugar, creams, and flavors.

What makes coffee beans for espresso special?

The beans specially selected for espresso drinks are roasted for a longer time and the beans are also grounded finer, more sand-like consistency. Some of the best coffee beans brands for espresso are Death Wish Coffee, Koffee Kult Thunder Bolt, and CoffeeBean Direct Italian Roast.

Can the benefits of espresso last long term?

After weighing both the sides – pros and cons, we feel that the benefits of espresso clearly outshine the disadvantages if you consume in moderation. However, the benefits may not be long term. If you drink caffeinated beverage several times a day, you can develop a tolerance to its health benefits and start experiencing some negative impacts.

Related Article: Why Is Espresso Served With Lemon?


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.