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Is coffee bad for children?

Postby Madroaster on Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:47 am

...split from Online espresso cost calculator by moderator...


Psyd wrote:...and she's right. No one in their right mind feeds espresso to a five year old.


Is there any current research suggesting coffee is bad for children? Few people scoff when we give our kids tea or Coke. I'm unaware of anything current that shows it would be a bad idea.

Anyone?
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Postby timo888 on Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:57 am

Hyperactivity and Stimulants
http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/...tion/caffeine.html

Osteoporosis in Women
http://www.ndri.com/article/cola_...omen__bone-98.html
http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/x..._4665_ENU_HTML.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/relea...0/011024073604.htm

Now and then wouldn't hurt, but a daily wake-me-up cup of coffee is probably not a good idea for kids, especially girls.

Regards
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Postby keno on Sun Nov 19, 2006 4:41 pm

Coffee has, up until recently, gotten a bum rap by the medical establishment :( . The tendency has been to focus on caffeine as if that were the only substance in coffee--there are over 800 components, including many antioxidants :shock: . Early theories held that coffee causes cancer and increases heart attacks and some early poorly done epidemiological studies that failed to control for smoking found such an association :o . But this thinking was wrong. Unfortunately, it persists.

Almost all of the more recent better done studies show that coffee has lots of health benefits :D . It is good for the liver, helps control diabetes, may help asthma, and may ward off Parkinson's disease. An area where there appears to be a paucity of good research is to compare types of coffee and brewing methods. Researchers have often compared green tea to black tea and have found that green tea contains more antioxidants. Coffee contains antioxidants as well, but I'd bet that freshly roasted espresso contains more antioxidants than drip brewed Folgers. It would be interesting to see researchers examine this. One wonders whether it could it even have something to do with the Mediterrean effect.

Finally, comparisons between coffee and cola are ridiculous. Both have caffeine, but there the similarity ends. Cola is filled with refined sugar (actually now high fructose corn syrup) and has no nutritional value. I'd much rather my kid drank coffee than Coke. Here is a link to an article that (toward the bottom) looks at the possible health benefits of coffee for children:

"In fact, no studies show that coffee in reasonable amounts is in any way harmful to children."
http://www.webmd.com/content/Arti....htm?printing=true

Cheers,
Ken
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Postby k7qz on Sun Nov 19, 2006 4:52 pm

Ironically, most of what I see published in the literature is actually delineating the health benefits of coffee!

An example from a distribution intented for the general public is here:
http://www.health.harvard.edu/pre...ealth_benefits.htm

I think the question you are asking will ultimately come down to one of caffeine consumption, e.g. at what point or at what amount does ingested caffeine become deleterious for children? (or adults for that matter) I think the answer is: We don't know-

FWIW, my dear old grandmother used to tell me that drinking coffee would "stunt my growth". (probably a ploy so that I would leave more coffee for her!) In retrospect, I guess I should have drank even more coffee than I already did as a kid because I'm 6'5" tall as an adult and have to struggle to fit into automobiles, commuter airplanes and the like... :lol:
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Postby Ozark_61 on Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:54 pm

It's a choice you have to make - obviously you can find sound research on either side of the issue for and against, and the devil is often in the details. I read medical research quite often and find that just reading an abstract or the conclusion doesn't really tell you much of anything. You have to look at the setup etc etc to see what the whole story is (and the inherent bias of all researchers (nothing is totally unbiased)). Personally, I wouldn't think that it's a good regular habit to get into with kids, but a little now and then isn't going to hurt. Kids already have a lot of energy (or should, unless they are bottled up in the house by overprotective parents) so does it make sense to give them stimulants?

YMMV
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Postby jesawdy on Tue Nov 21, 2006 1:08 pm

Ozark_61 wrote:Kids already have a lot of energy (or should, unless they are bottled up in the house by overprotective parents) so does it make sense to give them stimulants?


Probably not.... but if my kid asked for taste, I'd let him. If he wanted one, and it wasn't late in the day, I think I'd let him drink a single shot. I tease my 4 year old son all the time about coffee. I'll set an espresso down in front of him at the breakfast table, or ask him if he wants some coffee. The reply is always a "Yuck!, I don't like coffee. Silly Daddy!", so we leave it at that. Interestingly enough, he loves to smell and hold roasted coffee beans though.

I'm in the camp that coffee has got to be A LOT better than many other things out there. Many people don't think twice about Coca-cola, or Mt. Dew, or all kinds of other sugar, caffeine, and Red Dye no X laden, or other highly engineered and processed drinks and foods. That's the stuff I'd be more concerned with.
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Postby ntwkgestapo on Tue Nov 21, 2006 1:31 pm

I'd have to say that coffee is NOT a major issue for children.... I was a "Navy Brat" and was drinking coffee @ age 5... No growth stunting here (or if there WAS, thanks! ;) ) I'm 6'1" (and have been since I was 12!). I didn't discover espresso until I was 16 (Expo '67 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.... Little open air cafe outside the Italian Pavilion) didn't KNOW it was espresso until YEARS later, but, OH BOY, this coffee tasted GREAT! BIG, chrome domes with levers sticking off the front... teeny, tiny little cups, but the coffee was SUPERB!
Steve C.
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Postby dbartramr on Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:50 pm

The June 2002 issue of Scientific American contained an excellent article by Ernesto Illy on the component chemicals in coffee, as well as the rate of incorporation of these components, to compare various infusion methods.

http://www.illyusa.com/pr/coffee.pdf

As a bonus, the article includes a super-close-up picture of crema, and what it's made of!

I seem to recall seeing a more comprehensive chart of the constituent chemicals and their incorporation rates, with many more chemicals including caffeine--this version may be in the actual print version of the article, or perhaps I saw it elsewhere--which showed how caffeine comes out of the bean relatively slowly at first, and at about 25-30 seconds, the rate of incorporation shoots up dramatically.

A good question would be to compare the caffeine contents of drip coffee and espresso. I would venture to guess that a 1.75 oz of espresso may have more caffeine per volume, but a normal 8 oz cup of coffee would have more caffeine in total due to the infusion method.
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Postby jesawdy on Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:37 pm

dbartramr wrote:A good question would be to compare the caffeine contents of drip coffee and espresso. I would venture to guess that a 1.75 oz of espresso may have more caffeine per volume, but a normal 8 oz cup of coffee would have more caffeine in total due to the infusion method.


The poking around that I have done about the issue of caffeine content of espresso versus drip coffee has been frustrating. The answer to which has more total caffeine would appear to be "it depends".

Yes, espresso has more caffeine per volume, but which has more total caffeine depends a lot on the brewing methods of the drip coffee (grind, beans, machine, water volume, temp, etc.), and of course, what is a serving of drip coffee anyhow, 6 oz, 8, oz, 12, oz, 20 oz?

From what I did find, I walked away from with this impression... a typical double espresso and a typical serving of drip coffee is about the same in total caffeine content.... but of course, as I said, "it depends" on how each was made and served.
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Postby dbartramr on Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:22 pm

That is right: a rigorous study of this question would have to define standards precisely.

One benchmark could be a standard coffee machine that uses a standard #2 paper filter, having whatever surface area and volume that it has. Test x grams of coffee, such that there are 10 grams per 6 oz of water, and note that most drip machines run at about the same rate (which naturally would also have to be specified). One thing to note would be that the more cups one is brewing, the more water that runs through the machine, the longer the beans are put through extraction, and thus the more caffeine gets incorporated into the coffee (but also the more it gets diluted). So what we'd be looking for is the function of caffeine per oz, as it varies by the amount of water gets put through the machine (and I would guess we could hold constant the grams of coffee per ounce). A measure for grind would also have to be established--various grinds will result in different surface areas of exposed ground surfaces, which may lead to differences in the rate of incorporation of caffeine).

Another would be for a press pot, setting the standard as a bodum 12 cup, at "full" capacity, using 10 grams per 6 oz, steeping for 4 minutes (or get a function of caffeine content per oz over steeping time--caffeine on x axis, steep time on y axis, and once again, set a standard for grind).

And the hard part: extrude a 2 oz shot of 17 grams of coffee tamped at 30 lbs over 25 seconds (or some defined standard for espresso).

Then we could define "normal" for each. Perhaps normal for drip/press pot is a regular 8 or 9 oz mug? In any event, we could begin to make comparisons, because we would have caffeine content per ounce, and then we could say things like "a [2 oz] shot of espresso has about the same amount of caffeine as an 8 oz mug of press pot steeped 4 minutes."
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