Why Espresso is Harmful: Surprising Side Effects

Coffee Espresso cup close up

There’s no shortage of scientific evidence about the benefits of drinking coffee, especially Italian-style coffee, also known as espresso. In fact, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition looks at the relationship between 20,487 people and their daily espresso consumption.

None of the participants had cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of the experiment, and each drank about 30 milliliters or more of espresso – which is roughly the size of a single serving – every day for more than eight years.

For espresso drinkers, this is great news, but it’s important to remember one thing, says Lisa Young, Ph.D., not to overdo it. While espresso sometimes has many positive aspects, there are some negative side effects of drinking too much espresso.

“It’s very easy to drink too much espresso, especially since they’re such tiny cups,” says Young. So, we decided to look at how to understand what not to drink coffee, as well as when not to drink coffee.

Coffee can disrupt your sleep

Too much caffeine from espresso can make you go to bed later than you’d like or contribute to restless sleep. Young recommends cutting out caffeine before noon. Some people can drink until noon.”

Coffee can make you anxious

Another side effect of caffeine, which releases adrenaline in the body, is anxiety. Caffeine increases your alertness by blocking the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical that makes you feel tired. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, recognizes caffeine-induced anxiety disorder as a condition in which caffeine interferes with daily life.

It can increase heart rate

Too much caffeine can make your heart beat faster or even change its rhythm. This is called atrial fibrillation, which has been reported in young people who have consumed energy drinks containing extremely high doses of caffeine.


Espresso can cause you to become dehydrated because caffeinated drinks have a mild diuretic effect, which means they can cause frequent urination. Diuretics are substances that cause your body to produce more urine than usual, which is not necessarily harmful, but it’s worth keeping in mind before a long car ride.

Espresso can cause digestive problems

Espresso (and coffee) have a well-known laxative effect, which is explained by the release of gastrin, a hormone that produces the stomach and speeds up the work of the colon. However, if you overdo it with your daily drink, it can lead to loose stools or even diarrhea in some people.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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