Science says it's safe to drink 25 cups of coffee today – so why do I feel so grim?

Sam Wollaston


10am, Monday morning. My editor asks me to attempt to drink 25 cups of coffee by 1pm and write about what that is like. It’s OK, I won’t die, he – and science – says.

Coffee has been previously thought to stiffen arteries and increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke, but a new study by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and part-funded by the British Heart Foundation has found that drinking five cups a day – even 25 – is no worse than one.

I’ve had one at home, quite strong, from the moka pot, with a dollop of frothy milk, and normally I’d have one or two more over a morning. But this is research, I take my journalism very seriously. I have two more quickly, black, from the office coffee machine (Colombian beans, quite nice, in moderation). And then another, even though I really don’t want it.

11am. My arteries might not be hardening, and my heart doesn’t seem to be racing, but – and it’s a big but – I’m feeling a bit queasy and not at all like more coffee right now. And I’ve had only four. Just 21 to go, then. Except that’s the quota for the day, and I have just got the morning, so maybe I can get away with 12? Still, the idea of another black coffee makes me feel ill. I’m going out for one.

Related: Moka pot, machine, filter or instant – which produces the best coffee?

12pm. I go to Pret a Manger for a cappuccino. Extra shot? That would count as two right? Shot me up. And a receipt – I’m totally expensing this. But that’s still only six. I suppose decaf would be cheating …

1pm. I manage two more. OK, one and a half, seven and a half in total. That’s it, I’m done. I’m not just feeling nauseous, but jittery and shaky, too. Who the hell are these caffeine freaks who drink 25 coffees a day?

I don’t care if the pointy-heads at Queen Mary say it’s not doing my heart health any harm, I feel grim. Also, coffee breath! Perhaps they should do a study into that: the effects of 25 cups of coffee on your oral hygiene. Now I’m going to see my editor, to snap at him, and breathe on him.