As a student, I am (I was) caffeine-dependant. But whenever I drink coffee I get stomach cramps.

Is there a biological/biochemical explanation for this?

Why would caffeinated coffee have this effect for some, like me, but not others?

Is there a safe alternative to caffeine that could produce similar effects?

closed as off-topic by Cindy, rumtscho Dec 21 '15 at 19:19

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  • Should it cause similar cramps or similar stimulation? – Lars Viklund Dec 21 '15 at 16:14
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about cooking. It is better suited for the Health or Coffee sites. – Cindy Dec 21 '15 at 19:16

You probably need to distinguish between coffee and caffeine.

Caffeine is a chemical compound that is a central nervous system stimulant. It is basically just bitter.

But coffee contains a load of other compounds that create the coffee taste.

Those that affect the human stomach most are tannins, acids and bitters that stimulate the secretion of stomach acids which - in case of a sensitive or already damaged stomach lining - can cause discomfort and pain. The content of those in the beans is greatly influenced by the roasting process (hot and fast typically worse than low and slow, darker roasts more than light ones), type of beans and the brewing process. 1

The easiest answer for a caffeine fix would actually be caffeine - without the accompanying coffee. You should get the powder at your local pharmacy.

But where's the fun in that? So drink lighter roasts or go for a shorter extraction time - Espresso vs. Cowboy coffee are two extreme examples.

1 (Source: Deutscher Kaffeeverband)

  • Is caffeine itself not an irritant to the digestive system too? – RYFN Dec 21 '15 at 17:03
  • 1
    @RYFN colon, yes (influencing peristalitc movements), stomach less so, according to Wikipedia and the source above. – Stephie Dec 21 '15 at 17:04

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