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The Correlation Between Coffee and Cigarette Consumption

John Valgoi

Feb 21 2011


Coffee and cigarettes are very similar and popular due to their addictive nature and ability to alter the mind and body. Coffee is the most popular stimulant in the world: over 400 million cups of it are consumed a day. This means that four out of five Americans drink coffee. ( In the United States, an estimated 23.1% of men smoke and 18.3% of women smoke ( Coffee is a stimulant because it contains caffeine. Another addictive stimulant is nicotine. Nicotine is found in most cigarettes and is central to their popularity. Is there a correlation between the consumption of coffee and cigarettes? Do caffeine and nicotine have many similarities? This paper will analyze the similarities of caffeine and nicotine and the correlation researchers have found between the drinking of coffee and the smoking of cigarettes.


The Origin of the Coffee Bean:

            The origin of the coffee bean is a legend. It is believed that an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi had several goats that ate bright red cherries from a dark green leafed shrub. Kaldi later found them dancing with an abnormal amount of energy around this bush. He then inferred that it was the cherries that were causing such an outlandish effect and decided to try them. It was then that he realized their powerful effect. Once word spread, monks at a local monastery began to eat the cherries in order to stay awake during extended prayer hours. They then began to distribute the berries to other monasteries around the world, and that is how coffee was born (


Coffee Plant Overview:

            The coffee plant is in the Rubiaceae family and is a wooded, recurrent evergreen dicotyledon. Due to its tall nature, the coffee plant can more accurately be referred to as a coffee tree (


The Difference Between Arabica and Robusta Coffee Beans

            There are two main coffee species that are produced, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora. Coffea arabica is produced in much greater quantity. It covers about 75-80 percent of the world’s coffee production. The latter, Coffea canephora, only accounts for about 20 percent of the production. The reason it accounts for such a small percentage of production is that it produces an inferior tasting beverage as opposed to Coffea Arabica. The caffeine content in it is higher though. Both of the coffee plants can grow to heights reaching ten meters, but for production sake they are usually maintained at a height beneficial for harvesting (


Chemical Makeup of Coffee Beans

            Coffee contains an abundance of compounds, over 1,000 to be exact. This trumps wine and chocolate who are composed of only a few hundred compounds. The main components of coffee are caffeine, tannic acid, fat, fatty acid, sugar, fiber, and minerals. Caffeine affects the nervous system, heart and respiratory system by stimulating them. It also limits muscle fatigue and allows for the increased secretion of digestive juice. If caffeine is taken in excess, it could result in poisoning. Another component of coffee mentioned above was tannic acid. This acid is usually boiled and then broken down into Jiao Wu acid, which if left boiling will lose its flavor. Fat and volatile fatty acids are probably two of the most important components of coffee. Volatile fatty acids are the main source of coffee aroma. The three remaining components, sugar, fiber, and minerals, play a minimal role in the make up of coffee but are nonetheless important (


Caffeine in Coffee

            The reason coffee has become such a popular drink is due to one of its key ingredients, caffeine. Caffeine is an alkaloid technically known as 1,3,7 – trimethylxanthine. Caffeine is not solely found in coffee beans. It is also found in Mate, Tea Leafs and various other plants around the world. A very peculiar fact about caffeine is that humans are the only life form that purposefully try to obtain it. The reason it is not popular among other living forms is that it is toxic to them, which can cause sterilization, phytotoxicity, and antifungal properties. Many scientists feel that coffee has survived for thousands of years due to this one property, caffeine. Its extremely bitter taste serves as a key defense mechanism for coffee beans. The insect chooses to move on to a different crop when it attacks the coffee cherry due to that intensely bitter taste of caffeine as mentioned above. The reason Arabica produces less caffeine than Robusta is due to the fact that insects attack them less frequently. They attack them less frequently because Arabica is grown at a much higher altitude. Since the threat of attack isn’t as high, Arabica does not need to produce as much caffeine (


Origin of Tobacco

            The Mayans, the indigenous people of Mexico and Central America, were the first ones to grow and use tobacco. The north and south slowly adapted it into their culture as time progressed. Christopher Columbus put tobacco on the map when he came to the Americas in 1412. He brought it back to Europe, where it became a phenomena. It then spread to Spain, Portugal, and France. It became so popular in France that the nicotine was named after Jean Nicot, the French Ambassador (


Tobacco Plant Overview

The tobacco plant is very distinct. Its height ranges from three feet to six feet, and it begins to form branches near the top of the plant. There are a multiplicity of leave on a tobacco plant that are quite large and somewhat decurrent ( Tobacco plants also have a very bitter taste. Below is a picture of a tobacco leaf:









Chemical Makeup of Cigarettes

            Cigarettes are composed of three main ingredients: nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. Nicotine is very addictive and is the reason most people have a hard time quitting smoking once they start. It only take ten seconds to get into the blood system and affect the brain. The way nicotine causes the “smokers high” is by allowing for the release of certain chemicals in the brain. That is not the only thing nicotine does, it also cause the a person’s heart to race and adrenaline to rush. The way the cigarette companies make such profits is due to the nature of nicotine. The high the smokers feel will eventually ware off leaving the smoker craving more.  Another ingredient, which is essential to the make up of cigarettes, is tar. It causes many problems in the lungs because it sticks to the cilia, which are the tiny hairs on the lungs. The cilia are essential because they are the protector of the lungs from infectious particles. Tar not only harms the cilia but it also sticks to the walls of the entire respiration system, which is detrimental to a person’s lungs. The third main ingredient of cigarettes is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is known for its presence in car exhaust fumes. This poisonous chemical decreases the amount of oxygen that is present in the blood, which in turn strains the heart. The other harmful components of cigarettes are arsenic, cyanide, cadmium, hydrogen formaldehyde, ammonia, acetone, and benzene (


Nicotine in Cigarettes

            Nicotine is an extremely addictive ingredient in cigarettes that is the cause of my addictions. The reason it is so addictive is because its ability to stimulate the adrenal glands. Once these glands are stimulated, they release adrenaline into the blood stream. Nicotine is similar to cocaine, heroin, and marijuana in the sense that it effects the level of the neurotransmitter, dopamine. This directly affects the brains ability to control reward and pleasure. Once the effects of nicotine ware off, the body is left wanting more and at a lesser state then when the person started to smoke. This is the addictive part of nicotine because it causes the person to want to smoke another cigarette. A person that tries to quit will experience withdrawal symptoms. The intensity of the symptoms will depend on how addicted that person is. Nicotine is the fuel that drives the obsession with cigarettes (


Similarities Between Caffeine and Nicotine:

            Both caffeine and nicotine are liquid alkaloids that form naturally. ( The chemicals associated with alkaloids have drastic effects on the human body. Caffeine and Nicotine both provide a stimulating effect on the body. Caffeine affects the nervous system, heart and respiratory system whereas nicotine releases adrenaline into the bloodstream. They both are similar to cocaine and heroin due to the affect they have on the brain. This is what gives both, caffeine and nicotine, their addictive quality.


Case Studies

            There are many similarities between caffeine and nicotine; however, there is some skepticism on whether the consumption of caffeine relates to the need to consume nicotine. The relationship between the drinking of coffee and the smoking of cigarettes are addressed in the following studies:


Rose and Behm

Twelve subjects were tested to see the extent of how the subjects mind and body were affected based on the interaction of caffeine and nicotine (Rose, 1991). There were two experimental sessions. Each session had a caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, which would be followed up by uniform inhalations of nicotine or non-nicotine smoke (Rose, 1991). The study showed that nicotine decreased its intensity only when caffeine was present (Rose, 1991). It was concluded that the affect nicotine has on a body not only depends on the dose of nicotine but also on whether or not caffeine was present (Rose 1991).


Swanson and Lee and Hopp

Six studies were completed to see if there is a strong correlation between coffee consumption and smoking (Swanson 1994). The results showed that 86.4% of smokers consumed coffee and 72.2% of nonsmokers did as well (Swanson 1994). It was also seen that ex-smokers consume more coffee than non-smokers but not as much as current smokers (Swanson 1994). The case study concluded that the consumption of cigarettes has a direct relation with the consumption of coffee.


Emurian and Nellis and Brady., et al.

For seven to twelve successive days, eight subjects were studied in a secure environment where cigarettes and coffee were readily available (Emurian, 1982). The observer recorded the time each subject would consume a substance. It was found that a cigarette-smoking event was most probable within the twenty minutes after a coffee-drinking event (Emurian, 1982). This showed that a relationship between drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes does exist.


Marshall and Epstein and Green

Two experiments were done to asses the correlation of coffee drinking with smoking (Marshall, 1980). The first experiment involved controlling the coffee intake of each subject and seeing if the amount the subject smoked correlated (Marshall, 1980). It was found that the subjects who received coffee smoked more than the subjects who did not (Marshall, 1980). The second experiment was a test to see what type of drinks influenced smoking They performed the experiment by giving the subjects different types of drinks and monitoring their cigarette use (Marshall, 1980). It was found that the subjects who drank the coffee with caffeine in it smoked the most.



From analyzing the case studies above, it can be seen that there is a correlation between the drinking of coffee and the smoking of cigarettes. Usually if a person drinks coffee he or she will smoke shortly after. The caffeine present in coffee lessens the effect of nicotine in cigarettes when both are consumed (Rose, 1991). This causes people to drink more and more coffee in order to increase the overall intensity of the two substances combined. The caffeine found in coffee is similar to the nicotine found in cigarettes in terms of the affect it has on the body. From the case studies above it can be inferred that the drinking of coffee and smoking of cigarettes are correlated due to the similar effects of caffeine and nicotine.


            The studies and research have shown that there is a correlation between smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. My recommendation to the reader regarding these products is that he or she should stray away from them because cigarettes and coffee are both addicting and alter the way the brain is supposed to function. If the reader needs to smoke or drink coffee I suggest he or she picks one or the other because when combined the mind altering effect is lessened and leads to needing more in order to feel the same effect.












Rose, J.E., Behm, F.M. (1991). Psychophysiological interactions between caffeine and nicotine. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 38, 333-337.

Swanson, J.A., Lee, J.W., Hopp, J.W. (1994). Caffeine and nicotine: A review of their joint use and possible interactive effects in tobacco withdrawal. Addictive Behaviors, 19, 229-256.

Emurian, H.H., Nellis, M.J., Brady, J.V., et al. (1982). Event time-series relationship between cigarette smoking and coffee drinking. Addictive Behaviors, 7. 441-444.

Marshall, W.R., Epstein, L.H., Green, S.B., (1980). Coffee drinking and cigarette smoking: 1. Coffee, caffeine and cigarette smoking behavior. Addictive Behaviors, 5. 389-394.

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