Why Do People Drink Coffee After Dinner? Mystery Solved!

why do people drink coffee after dinner

It’s a longtime tradition at family gatherings or dinner parties to see the adults clamoring together after the meal to drink coffee. A cup of coffee and a chat, maybe with dessert or something of the like, is not uncommon after such occasions. It’s so common, but have you ever actually wondered why people drink coffee after dinner?

Drinking coffee after dinner is a generational tradition as coffee lovers get older. Aside from tradition, coffee offers health benefits. Coffee suppresses appetite and promotes healthy digestion, so eating before bedtime is an ideal time to drink coffee. However, keep it to one cup if caffeine isn’t something you are used to in order to make sure you get good sleep.

Key Takeaways

  • Coffee can aid in digestion.
  • Drinking coffee after dinner can reduce the sluggish feeling after a heavy meal.
  • The after-dinner coffee goes great with dessert.

Keep reading to discover the fascinating reasons behind this popular habit and the potential benefits it offers.

The Tradition Of Coffee After Dinner

We all grew up with traditions of some sort. Whether this is a Christmas tree decorated year-round for the different holidays or a family gathering on certain days of the year every year. Tradition is a part of every family and every generation. Drinking coffee after dinner is one of those traditions.

How Did The Tradition Come About?

Many cultures have some variations of after-dinner coffee. Different cultures not only indulge in coffee after dinner, but coffee is a huge part of their culture—like the French, for example. Italians often enjoy coffee after a meal as well. 

Many other cultures have adopted the tradition as well. In Venezuela, people tend to drink coffee after dinner, particularly after eating out. Many countries have the tradition of pairing rich, sweet desserts with a creamy espresso of some sort.

Cultural/Social Significance Of The After Dinner Coffee

It’s said that if the meal is heavy, an after-dinner coffee can provide a much-needed pick-me-up or prevent nasty sluggishness. It’s also thought to offer other benefits like digestive help. This statement, while seeming like a silly generational quirk, actually has some truth to it, as we’ll go over later.

Drinking coffee after dinner is also a great way to keep the conversation flowing in social situations. Something about a coffee mug in hand, similar to social smoking or alcohol consumption, is a more subtle conversation starter.

Modern-Day Usage And Popularity

After-dinner coffee is still a well-practiced tradition among both older and younger generations. Aside from the social aspect, many people enjoy the beverage simply to cleanse their palates after meals. A nice, high-quality black coffee is ideal for this particular reason. 

The Digestive Benefits Of Coffee After Dinner

Have you ever noticed that almost directly after drinking your coffee, you have to rush right to the restroom? And not because your bladder is about to release. The thought that coffee can help with digestion has a great deal of truth to it. In fact, coffee has many properties that aid digestion, particularly after a meal like a dinner.

How Coffee Benefits Digestion

The coolest thing about coffee is the signal the dark liquid sends to your digestive system. As soon as it splashes into your stomach, the coffee sends the signal to release gastrin (See keynote). Because of this signal, coffee helps food travel through the digestive tract.

Key Note: According to the National Library of Medicine, gastrin is a hormone that has the primary purpose of enhancing gastric muscular growth and motility. Gastrin is also responsible for releasing hydrochloric acid into the stomach. 

The Science Behind The Digestion Benefits Of Coffee

Nobody is saying to go out and drink three or four cups of coffee directly after dinner. However, the science, like what we see from this journal, does seem to point to the fact that coffee could help your digestive tract, especially after a large meal like dinner. 

Other Benefits Coffee May Offer

Aside from the benefits coffee offers to the digestion process, there are other benefits that may be present as well. News-Medical mentions that coffee may have a protective effect against certain diseases, possibly including liver diseases. 

Other benefits, according to Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, may include lowering the likelihood of:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart DiseaseLiver and endometrial cancers
  • Parkinsons’ Disease
  • Depression

The Psychological Benefits Of Coffee After Dinner

Have you ever just mentally felt better after a nice coffee? Or felt instantly energized, or even relaxed, after enjoying your espresso? Not only are there physical benefits to drinking coffee after dinner, but there are some psychological ones too.

Coffee After Dinner Improves Your Mentality/Mood

Most of us are aware that coffee is loaded with caffeine. But what exactly is caffeine? According to University Health Services at Princeton University, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. These kinds of stimulants:

  • Increase alertness
  • Increase awareness
  • Make you more focused 
  • Increase your energy levels

With that being said, it’s pretty clear that coffee can improve the way you feel. All of these things can improve your mood and your mental health in general. Coffee after dinner prevents drowsiness and lethargy caused by large meal.

Coffee Provides Comfort After Dinner

Not only does drinking coffee after dinner improve your mood and mental health, but it also seems to provide comfort. Coffee is always there. You can drink it anytime, anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold outside. Whether you choose to partake in an after-dinner dessert or not, you can always enjoy the coffee offered. 

Potential Negative Effects Of Drinking Coffee After Dinner

Of course, and like with anything else, drinking coffee after dinner could possibly have negative side effects. The negatives of the after-dinner coffee are not so severe that it’s not recommended. However, they should be taken into consideration.

Interference With Sleep

As mentioned before, coffee is ultimately a stimulant. The positive is that it could give you plenty of energy and focus you on getting on with your day. Unfortunately, drinking too much coffee too late in the evening (like after dinner) can potentially interfere with your ability to fall asleep. 

It’s best not to drink coffee too late in the evening. If your dinner is later in the evening or close to your bedtime, it’s best to avoid that cup of joe. You could also switch to decaf if you simply enjoy the flavor.

Other Negative Effects To Consider

Drinking coffee before dinner could possibly have other negative side effects to consider. Being a stimulant, it not only increases focus and energy but could also increase your heart rate. According to the AASM Foundation, ingesting high doses of caffeine, especially later in the evening, like after dinner, could lead to:

  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Muscle tremors

Best Choices for After Dinner Coffee

Now that we’ve gone over why people drink coffee after dinner and some facts to consider, let’s look at what makes a good after dinner coffee. The great thing about coffee is that there is basically a whole world of possibilities to look at. However, not all coffee is cut out to be an after-dinner beverage. 

Consider This

Quite often, after dinner comes dessert. When it comes to coffee choices, that’s a big factor to consider. The bitterness of coffee often counteracts the overly sweet flavors of desserts. Coffee also acts as a great palate cleanser between the two courses. 

Sharp espressos and black coffee are perfect for after dinner. You could also consider adding cognac to black coffee. Check out these recommendations for after-dinner coffee drinks:

In Conclusion

After dinner coffee is a longstanding tradition that many of us grew up with. This tradition has many reasons behind it, like carrying on a conversation or comforting a lonely soul. Although there are possible negative effects, like impacted sleep, the benefits seem to greatly outweigh them. So, grab a slice of pie and a cup of coffee after your next meal and enjoy the perfect combination.

Christopher Mize

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *