Can we drink coffee after eating food?


Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide, cherished for its aroma, flavor, and stimulating effects. Many people enjoy sipping their morning coffee alongside breakfast or after a meal. However, a common belief has circulated that drinking coffee immediately after eating food can be detrimental to health. In this article, we delve into this notion, examining the myths and scientific evidence to shed light on whether it is safe to drink coffee after eating food.

The Myth Behind the Claim

The claim that drinking coffee after eating food is harmful revolves around the idea that caffeine, present in coffee, interferes with nutrient absorption, negatively impacting digestion and causing various health issues. Some people argue that coffee can hinder the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc, leading to deficiencies over time. Additionally, it is claimed that coffee can increase stomach acid production, potentially causing digestive discomfort and acid reflux when consumed after a meal.

Examining the Scientific Evidence

While the claims have gained traction among coffee enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals, it is essential to consider the scientific evidence before drawing any conclusions. Let’s examine the key aspects related to drinking coffee after eating:

  1. Nutrient Absorption: Studies have indeed shown that excessive coffee consumption can interfere with the absorption of certain minerals. However, this effect is more pronounced when coffee is consumed in large quantities, particularly on an empty stomach. When coffee is taken as part of a meal, the impact on nutrient absorption is relatively minimal. Moreover, the effects may vary depending on individual factors such as age, overall diet, and specific nutrient needs.
  2. Stomach Acid Production: Coffee has been reported to stimulate gastric acid secretion. However, the increase in stomach acid levels after consuming a moderate amount of coffee is usually temporary and not harmful to most individuals. Only people with pre-existing gastrointestinal conditions, such as gastritis or acid reflux, may experience discomfort if they consume excessive amounts of coffee or have an overly sensitive digestive system.
  3. Coffee and Digestion: Some studies suggest that coffee can stimulate colonic motor activity, potentially leading to increased bowel movements. While this effect may benefit some people by alleviating constipation, it could cause discomfort in others, especially after a meal. However, there is no clear evidence to support the notion that coffee consumption immediately after eating is universally harmful to digestion.
  4. Individual Tolerance: Individual tolerance to coffee varies significantly. Some individuals can enjoy coffee after eating without any adverse effects, while others may experience discomfort or other symptoms. It is crucial to pay attention to your body’s response and make choices accordingly.

Balancing Coffee Consumption

Based on the available scientific evidence, it is safe for most people to drink moderate amounts of coffee after eating food. Moderate coffee consumption is generally considered to be around 3 to 4 cups per day, but individual tolerance may vary. To mitigate any potential adverse effects, consider the following tips:

  1. Avoid Excessive Consumption: Drinking too much coffee, especially on an empty stomach, may lead to nutrient absorption issues and digestive discomfort. Stick to moderate consumption levels.
  2. Know Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to coffee after meals. If you experience discomfort, consider adjusting the timing or quantity of your coffee intake.
  3. Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet is well-rounded and includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods to minimize the risk of nutrient deficiencies.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Coffee is a diuretic, which can lead to increased urine output. Make sure to balance coffee consumption with sufficient water intake.

Bottom line

In conclusion, the notion that drinking coffee after eating food is universally harmful lacks substantial scientific evidence. For most individuals, moderate coffee consumption after meals is safe and unlikely to significantly impact nutrient absorption or digestion. As with any dietary habit, it is essential to be mindful of individual tolerance levels and maintain a balanced diet to ensure overall health and well-being. As always, consulting a gastroenterologist can provide personalized guidance based on your specific health needs and concerns. So, go ahead and enjoy that post-meal cup of coffee guilt-free!

How can I contact gastroenterologist Dr. Zavos for an appointment?

Dr. Chris Zavos is a board-certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist, located in Thessaloniki Greece, and specifically in Kalamaria suburb, about 7 kilometres (4 miles) southeast of downtown Thessaloniki. His private office is at: Fanariou 8 street (near Aigaiou and Adrianoupoleos avenues), Kalamaria (Thessaloniki), Greece.

Thessaloniki International Airport is only 10 km away from his private office in Kalamaria and can be reached by taxi within 13 minutes from the airport.

Dr. Chris Zavos performs endoscopies at Bioclinic private hospital in downtown Thessaloniki (Mitropoleos 86 street).

You can contact Dr. Zavos at phone numbers: (+30)-6976596988 and (+30)-2311283833, or you can email him at Dr. Zavos responds to Greek and English languages.

Last update: 26 September 2023, 19:07


Gastroenterologist - Hepatologist, Thessaloniki

PhD at Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

PGDip at Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, The Netherlands

Ex President, Hellenic H. pylori & Microbiota Study Group