Researchers now claim we may be able to enjoy even more of the good stuff each day than we thought. According to a new analysis of 220 existing coffee studies, published in the BMJ, drinking up to four cups may have substantial health benefits.
The research, led by scientists from the University of Southampton, suggests that the overall benefits of drinking coffee outweigh the risks. Coffee drinkers were less at risk of liver disease, diabetes, dementia and some cancers and were less likely to die from stroke.
The strongest benefits were found in people who drank around three to four cups a day, who, according to one study, had a 17% reduced chance of death from all causes. Even those who drank up to seven cups still seemed to benefit from their caffeine habit, enjoying a 10% reduced chance. However, the benefits aren't universal, with women who are pregnant or who have a higher risk of suffering bone fractures advised against drinking too much coffee.
The study supports the NHS's caffeine recommendations, which say non-pregnant adults can have up to 400mg of caffeine per day. That equates to four mugs of instant coffee (at 100mg per mug), around three cups of filter coffee (at 140mg per cup) or just over five cups of tea (at 75mg per mug).
While the research doesn't definitively prove that coffee brings the aforementioned benefits, as it was based on observational data, the scientists said the findings back up other recent studies and reviews of coffee's impact on the body.
"Factors such as age, whether people smoked or not and how much exercise they took could all have had an effect," Professor Paul Roderick, co-author of the study, told the BBC, but his conclusion was very much pro-coffee. "There is a balance of risks in life, and the benefits of moderate consumption of coffee seem to outweigh the risks." As if we needed an excuse for another coffee-shop run.