Forty or so species of mainly evergreen shrubs and small trees belong to this genus, which occurs in tropical Asia and Africa. Coffea arabica is the most widely cultivated species commercially and is occasionally grown as an ornamental for containers in cool climates. Coffee drinking began in Africa some thousand years ago and was first noted by Leonhart Rauwolf, a German traveler to the Middle East, in 1573. Europeans acquired the taste in the 17th century; since then, coffee has become a crop of global importance. The longer-lived and higher yielding C. canephora (robusta coffee) is grown mainly in Africa. It produces beans with the highest caffiene of any species but is inferior in flavor and used mainly in cheaper blends and instant coffee. Coffea liberica (Liberian coffee) is cultivated for local consumption in Malaysia and Guyana; flavor is inferior and plants need more warmth and humidity. Coffea stenophylla (highland coffee, Sierra Leone coffee) produces fine-flavored coffee, comparable with mocha. Coffee contains up to 0.32 percent caffiene when fresh. It also contains chlorogenic acid, a stimulant and diuretic, which remains after decaffeination and is a known allergen. Caffeine is used in many commercial painkillers to potentiate aspirin and acetaminophen and in homeopathic remedies for hyperactivity and tension headaches.

Known for its ability to clear the mind and perk up the energy, coffee has some surprising health benefits. According to a study done at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, it provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that drinking more than six cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of diabetes. And a team of Japanese researchers reported that people who drank coffee daily, or nearly every day, had half the liver cancer risk of those who never drank it.

Evergreen shrub with glossy, dark green, elliptic to ovate, pointed leaves, to 10cm (4in) long. Dense, axillary clusters of fragrant white flowers in late summer, and autumn, followed by rounded to ellipsoid fruits, about 1cm (3/8in) long, that ripen red, containing two seeds.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Arabian coffee, Arabica Coffee, Caffea, Java, Mocha
Botanical Name:
Coffea arabica
Native Location:
NE tropical Africa
Well-drained, moisture-retentive soil in semi-shade. Trim container-grown plants in spring to maintain shape. Plants grown under cover may be damaged by scale insects and mealybugs.
By seed sown when ripe, at 30°C (86°F); by tip cuttings at 30°C (86°F).
Berries are picked when ripe and the seeds ("beans") are dried, fermented, or roasted for infusions and essence. Homeopathic tinctures are made from unroasted beans.
Has very fragrant flowers and seeds that produce aromatic, finely flavored coffee.

Is dwarf, with wavy-edged leaves. Makes a good container plant.
7m (22ft)
2-3m (6-10ft)
Min. 10°C (50°F)
Parts Used:
A bitter, aromatic, stimulant herb that has diuretic effects and controls vomiting.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for nausea and vomiting, and collapse following narcotic poisoning. Unripe seeds used in Ayurvedic medicine for headaches. Externally for burns and scalds (powdered seeds), and as an enema to cleanse the large bowel (infusion).
To treat hepatitis, imflammation, migraines, fever and diarrhea. Germany's Commission E has approved the use of coffee to treat diarrhea and inflammation of the mouth and throat.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of coffee for treating headaches is approximately 2 cups of the infusion, containing a total of 250mg of caffeine.
Possible Side Effects:
Coffee's side effects include tremors, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), insomnia, and irritability
Culinary Uses:
Coffee is the basis of many stimulant drinks, served hot, iced, spiced, fortified with various spirits and liqueurs, with or without milk or cream, and sweetening. Used to flavor cakes, desserts, and sweet sauces.
Drug Interactions:
Taking coffee with these drugs may have an unpredicatable effect on blood sugar levels:
Acarbose, (Prandase, Precose)
Acetohexamide, (Acetohexamide)
Chlorpropamide, (Diabinese, Novo-Propamide)
Glicalzide, (Diamicron, Novo-Gliclazide)
Glimepiride, (Amaryl)
Glipizide, (Glucotrol)
Glipizide and Metformin, (Metaglip)
Gliquidone, (Beglynor, Glurenorm)
Glyburide, (DiaBeta, Micronase)
Glyburide and Metformin, (Glucovance)
Insulin, (Humulin, Novolin R)
Metformin, (Glucophage, Riomet)
Miglitol, (Glyset)
Nateglinide, (Starlix)
Pioglitazone, (Actos)
Repaglinide, (GlucoNorm, Prandin)
Rosiglitazone, (Avandia)
Rosiglitazone and Metformin, (Avandamet)
Tolazamide, (Tolinase)
Tolbutamide, (Apo-Tolbutamide, Tol-Tab)
Taking coffee with these drugs may increase the risk of side effects due to a buildup of caffeine in the body:
Cimetidine, (Nu-Cimet, Tagamet)
Cinoxacin, (Cinobac)
Ciprofloxacin, (Ciloxan, Cipro)
Disulfiram, (Antabuse)
Ephedrine, (Pretz-D)
Ergotamine, (Cafergor, Cafergot)
Estrogens (Conjugated A/synthetic), (Cenestin)
Estrogens (Conjugated/Equine), (Congest, Premarin)
Estrogens (Conjugated Equine) and Medroxyprogesterone, (Premphase, Prempro)
Estrogens (Esterified), (Estratab, Menest)
Estrogens (Esterified) and Methyltestosterone, (Estratest, Estratest H.S.)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Desogestrel, (Cyclessa, Ortho-Cept)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Ethynodiol Diacetate, (Demulen, Zovia)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Etonogestrel, (NuvaRing)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Levonorgestrel, (Alesse, Triphasil)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norelgestromin, (Evra, Ortho Evra)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norethindrone, (Brevicon, Ortho-Novum)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestimate, (Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestrel, (Cryselle, Ovral)
Fluconazole, (Apo-Fluconazole, Diflucan)
Fluvoxamine, (Alti-Fluvoxamine, Luvox)
Gatifloxacin, (Tequin, Zymar)
Gemifloxacin, (Factive)
Levofloxacin, (Levaquin, Qiuxin)
Lomefloxacin, (Maxaquin)
Mestranol and Norethindrone, (Necon 1/50, Ortho-Novum 1/50)
Mexiletine, (Mextil, Novo-Mexiletine)
Moxifloxacin, (Avelox, Vigamox)
Nalidixic Acid, (NegGram)
Norfloxacin, (Apo-Norflox, Noroxin)
Ofloxacin, (Floxin, Ocuflox)
Pefloxacin, (Peflacine, Perflox)
Riluzole, (Rilutek)
Sparfloxacin, (Zagam)
Terbinafine, (Lamisil, Lamisil AT)
Trovafloxacin, (Trovafloxacin)
Verapamil, (Calan, Isoptin SR)
Taking large amounts of coffee with these drugs may increase the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure):
Ephedrine, (Pretz-D)
Iproniazid, (Marsilid)
Moclobemide, (Alti-Moclobemide, Nu-Moclobemide)
Phenelzine, (Nardil)
Selegiline, (Eldepryl)
Tranylcypromine, (Parnate)
Taking coffee with these drugs may increase central nervous system stimulation:
Albuterol, (Proventil, Ventolin)
Clobenzorex, (Asenlix)
Diethylpropion, (Tenuate)
Epinephrine, (Adrenalin, EpiPen)
Fenoterol, (Berotec)
Modafinil, (Alertec, Provigil)
Phentermine, (Adipex-P, Ionamin)
Pseudoephedrine, (Dimetapp Decongestant, Sudafed)
Taking coffee with thses drugs may cause or increase gastrointestinal irritation:
Celecoxib, (Celebrex)
Ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin)
Indomethacin, (Indocin, Novo-Methacin)
Ketoprofen, (Orudis, Rhodis)
Ketorolac, (Acular, Toradol)
Naproxen, (Aleve, Naprosyn)
Piroxicam, (Feldene, Nu-Pirox)
Rofecoxib, (Vioxx)
Taking coffee with these drugs may interfere with the absorption of the drug:
Alendronate, (Novo-Alendronate, Fosamax)
Amitriptyline, (Elavil, Levate)
Amitriptyline and Chlordiazepoxide, (Limbitrol)
Amitriptyline and Perphenazine, (Etrafon, Triavil)
Amoxapine, (Asendin)
Chlorpromazine, (Largactil, Thorazine)
Clomipramine, (Anafranil, Novo-Clopramine)
Desipramine, (Alti-Desipramine, Norpramin)
Doxepin, (Sinequan, Zonalon)
Fluphenazine, (Modecate, Prolixin)
Imipramine, (Apo-Imipramine, Tofranil)
Lofepramine, (Feprapax, Gamanil)
Melitracen, (Dixeran)
Mesoridazine, (Serentil)
Nortriptyline, (Aventyl HCl, Pamelor)
Perphenazine, (Apo-Perphenazine, Trilafon)
Prochlorperazine, (Compazine, Compro)
Promethazine, (Phenergan)
Protriptyline, (Vivactil)
Thiethylperazine, (Torecan)
Thioridazine, (Mellaril)
Thiothixene, (Navane)
Trifluoperazine, (Novo-Trifluzine, Stelazine)
Trimipramine, (Apo-Trimip, Surmontil)
Taking Coffee with these drugs may be harmful:
Alendronate, (Fosamax, Novo-Alendronate)—May reduce drug effectiveness
Clozapine, (Clozaril, Gen-Clozapine)—May cause increased psychotic symptoms
Dipyridamole, (Novo-Dipiradol, Persantine)—May reduce drug effectiveness
Ergotamine, (Cafergor, Cafergot)—May increase drug absorption
Etodolac, (Lodine, Utradol)—May increase risk of liver damage
Lithium, (Carbolith, Eskalith)—May cause drug levels in the body to rise, heightening "lithium tremor", when high amounts of caffeine are taken over time and suddenly stopped.
Riluzole, (Rilutek)—Increases risk of drug side effects
Selegiline, (Eldepryl)—May increase risk of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
Theophylline, (Elixophyllin, Theochron)—May increase toxic effects of the drug
Lab Test Alterations:
  • May increase urine 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid concentrations.
  • May increase urine catecholamine concentrations.
  • May increase bleeding time due to antiplatelet activity.
  • May increase plasma catecholamine levels
  • May increase urine creatine levels.
  • May alter test results with dipyridamole thallium imaging studies.
  • May increase or decrease blood glucose levels
  • may increase blood lactate levels when combined with ephedrine (a constituent of Ma-Huang).
  • May cause a false positive diagnosis of neuro-blastoma, when diagnosis is based on tests of urine vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) or catecholamine concentrations, because caffeine can increase both of these.
  • May alter results of pulmonary function tests, including forced expiratory volume at one minue (FEV1) and midexpiratory flow rates.
  • May increase serum urate test results determined by the Bittner method.
  • May increase urinary calcium levels.
  • May increase urine vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) concentrations.
  • May increase two-hour postprandial glucose test if caffeine is ingested during test.
  • May cause a false positive diagnosis of pheochromocytoma, when diagnosis is based on tests of urine vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) or catecholine concentrations, because caffeine can increase both of these.
Disease Interactions:
  • May worsen anxiety disorders.
  • May worsen bleeding disorders.
  • May trigger irregular heartbeat.
  • May worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers.
  • May contribute to insulin resistance and raise blood sugar following a meal.
  • May play a role in glaucoma by increasing the intraocular pressure ("eye pressure").
  • May raise blood pressure in those with hypertension.
  • May contribute to osteoporosis by encouraging the body to excrete calcium.
Supplement Interactions:
  • May increase therapeutic and adverse effects of caffeine when taken with herbs and supplements containing caffeine, such as Cola nut, Guarana, and Maté.
  • May increase urinary calcium excretion.
  • Increased risk of serious life-threatening or debilitating effects, such as low blood pressure (hypotension), heart attack (myocardial infarction), stroke, seizures, and death when used< with Ma-Huang.
  • Increased risk of ischemic stroke when combined with Ma-Huang and Creatine.
  • Possible decreasesd beneficial effects of creatine on athletic performance due to inhibition of phosphocreatine resythesis.
Food interactions:
May increase therapeutic and adverse effects of caffiene when taken together with caffeine containing foods and drinks.
Economic Uses:
Coffee extract is used in baked products, desserts, ice cream, yogurt, candy, syrups, liqueurs (such as Kahlua and Tia Maria), and cola-type drinks, sometimes combined with chocolate to give mocha flavor. Roasted whole beans are chocolate-coated as a snack or candy.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pp 174-175
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossber,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. PP. 111-114, 155-156