I’m never quite sure whether coffee is good for me, so I was thrilled that the December, 1916 issue of Ladies Home Journal answered a lot of my questions. Here’s an abridged version of the questions and answers:
Does coffee really keep people awake?
It certainly does! The drinking of coffee sometimes serves a useful purpose in emergencies, such as in the case of a train dispatcher who must be possessed of a clear, active brain in order that human lives may be properly safeguarded. Or, to the nurse on night duty it is often found a very welcome beverage. But, in all such cases, the purpose for which coffee is taken is to insure wakefulness; the very condition that the average man or woman seek to avoid.
How does morning coffee with sugar and cream affect the stomach? With sugar or cream alone? What about black coffee?
When you take your cup of coffee at breakfast one thing occurs in the stomach no matter whether the coffee is taken “straight,” or with either cream or sugar, or both. The thing which universally occurs is a stimulation of the glands or workshops in the lining of the stomach, causing the glands to form more gastric fluid. In other words coffee, from this standpoint, acts very much the same as water.
What is the effect of coffee on the nervous system?
After the coffee leaves the stomach it passes into the bowel, from which it is taken and carried by the blood to all parts of the body. The effect on the nervous system is soon seen. The pulse quickens and the hand of the coffee drinker is no longer steady.
Does cold coffee produce the same stimulating effect as hot coffee up entering the stomach?
Yes! So far as the stimulating effect of the coffee in the stomach or the subsequent effect of the coffee upon the nervous system is concerned, it is immaterial whether one takes the coffee hot or cold. In other words, no matter what the temperature of the coffee may be, the stomach sees to it that the temperature is raised or lowered as the case may require, and that in a very few minutes a temperature approximating that of the body is established.