Coffee Allergy

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coffee allergyCoffee is the most popular beverage in the world and many people could not make it through a day without it.  Coffee can be a healthy drink and is one of the best sources of antioxidants in a beverage. However, certain coffee beverages do contain naturally occurring and added chemicals which can cause an allergic reaction in certain individuals. Mild to moderate allergic reactions are reported that can last a few hours and may involve a skin rash, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, runny nose, watery eyes and coughing. It is possible to have a severe allergic reaction to coffee which can result in anaphylactic shock but it is considered to be quite rare.

Caffeine Chemical

Caffeine is a chemical compound which is present in all coffees and even decaffeinated products may still contain it. Persons who consume too much caffeine have reported headaches, insomnia, irritability and even the jitters.  Allergy doctors have reported cases of allergic reactions to caffeine such as a skin rash, swelling of the face and difficulty breathing. Certain coffee products may contain higher concentrations of caffeine than others.  An enormous amount of caffeine can actually cause poisoning resulting in a condition known as rhabdomyolysis, which affects body tissue and muscle fibers causing them to break down. This break down process releases toxic matter into the blood stream and can result in muscle weakness or cramping when it accumulates in the bloodstream.


Tannins are also naturally occurring in many beverages and foods such as red wine and chocolate.  An allergic condition referred to as a “red wine headache” is believed to be caused by the tannins present in the wine. Migraine headaches are often blamed on tannins. While most coffees do not contain as much tannin as red wine, coffee does contain enough of the chemical to cause allergic reactions in hypersensitive individuals. If you feel you may have an coffee allergy, then it is wise to maintain a food and beverage diary. Use the dairy to track the other foods  and beverages you consume which may also contain tannins which can give you a similar reaction as when you drink coffee.

Pesticides and Herbicides

Many coffee brands grown in certain parts of the world may contain concentrations of herbicides and pesticides.  Allergic and non-allergic people can have sensitivities to certain types of chemicals used in pesticides and herbicides. In addition, many pesticides and herbicides used on coffee beans are believed to be carcinogenic agents.

Organic Coffee is Best

More and more coffee producers are realizing that people are concerned about the quality of the beverages they consume. As a result, more manufacturers are converting to safer growing methods which do not require the use of pesticides. Organic coffee sales are growing by 24% yearly,  up from 16% in 2007.

About the author: Joe A. Venitilleo is a manufactures representative of a beverage company which markets organic tea and coffee products from around the world.

Leesha Harvey- Coffee and a Smile

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