The appearance of a new coffee from Weanie Beans has restarted the age-old discussion about whether or not coffee is good for hangovers.
Weanie Beans is a brand without a bricks-and-mortar site – it sells from a couple of coffee stalls at markets, but has now developed a trade business, supplying branded coffees, teas and hot chocolate to delis and food stores. One of its latest lines include the Hangover Coffee and the Festival Coffee Kit, which is a combination of the Hangover coffee and an Aeropress (with a tea-towel printed with the instructions on how to use that particular brewer).
The Hangover morning-after coffee is a blend of Guatemalan arabica and Ugandan robusta, described as ‘packed with flavour and caffeine’, and priced at £5.00 for 250gm. It describes itself as ‘a unique blend that has a higher caffeine content than most and helps people to ease those turbulent morning hangovers’.
But this raises the age-old question – does coffee help a hangover?
The matter has never really been settled. Coffee is an industry which constantly attracts scientific ‘findings’, and on this matter, opinion remains divided.
It seems agreed that coffee does not ‘sober you up’. One school of thought holds that the stimulant effects of caffeine can counteract alcohol, but others say the opposite is true, and that mixing caffeine and alcohol may impair judgment more than the alcohol on its own. The logic appears to be that caffeine does make a drunk person stay awake longer, but that this simply means they are more likely to suffer from ‘risk-taking behaviour’ while their judgment is impaired.
There are those who say that although caffeine on its own may temporarily relieve a headache, its diuretic effect will only make the headache more intense in the long run.
Several schools of thought argue that caffeine can actually increase the effect of pain medicines, such as ibuprofen, although others say that may be countered by the dehydrating effect, which again makes things worse. A report in New Scientist has said that researchers at a university in Philadelphia did agree a mixture of caffeine and painkillers may be the best way to get rid of a hangover, because the caffeine in coffee and anti-inflammatory ingredients in aspirin and other painkillers had a neutralising effect against the after-effects of alcohol.
The research team’s professor did disagree with the idea that dehydration through drinking coffee is a major cause of hangovers.
The idea of a hangover cure – or at least, a hangover ‘aid’ – has cropped up in other parts of the beverage industry. Several companies make ‘healthy additives’ which are tasteless and can be added to drinks like smoothies. The runner-up in the annual smoothie championships commented recently that students swear by his hangover smoothies. The additives made by Smoothie Essentials, an American product distributed here by the Italian Beverage Company, also include a Hangover blend.
There is a potential problem with product description – at Love Smoothies, Richard Canterbury has even reported that he could not market a smoothie additive as a ‘hangover cure’, on the grounds that it could promote binge drinking. Another pointed out that with regard to smoothies, the sound of the average blender might worsen the condition!
Back in the coffee sector, Weanie Beans remain optimistic that their coffee will win attention.
“Caffeine is a diuretic and therefore dehydrates you – which isn’t great when you’ve got a stinking hangover, agreed,” remarked Adeline Vining, the company founder. “However, caffeine is also proven to help alleviate headaches. Together with the fact that caffeine is a stimulant, it will kick start your day, and combined with drinking lots of water, it will help alleviate some of the pain associated with too much alcohol consumption, and even more so when combined with aspirin or ibuprofen.
“We’re not claiming this coffee to be a hangover cure – we’re saying it will get you going faster after a heavy night. We’ve added a note to our website telling people that this isn’t a miracle cure, and suggested that they drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
“Of course, the right thing to do is not to drink too much in the first place!”