Amazon.com: The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug (Bennett Alan Weinberg, Bonnie K. Bealer)
Amazon.com: The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug (Bennett Alan Weinberg, Bonnie K. Bealer)
This is the book that started our journey down the caffeine trail.  Bennett was running a pharmaceutical consulting business, working as a writer for Fortune 500 companies, and  Bonnie worked with him.  One day Bonnie asked Bennett a question about caffeine that he couldn’t answer.  Bennett advised her to check out the local Barnes & Noble and grab a book on caffeine.  Bonnie returned, revealing that there were books for children, there were stupid books that said don’t use any caffeine or it will kill you, and there were books for pharmacologists too technical even for doctors to read.  She thought she and Bennett should fill the void and write the first serious book on caffeine which would tell the intelligent lay reader the truth about the drug.  Bennett wasn’t too enthusiastic, but he decided to try it.  The rest is history.  The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug was born.  It was highly praised by the most presitgious periodical reviewers in the English speaking world (see Review Highlights below) and translated and published in Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

Simon & Schuster then asked us to follow up with a book that left out the culture and history and focused on teaching people how to use caffeine to achieve the maximum benefits for the mind and body.  In response, we published The Caffeine Advantage: How to Sharpen Your Mind, Improve your Physical Performance, and Achieve Your Goals–the Healthy Way, which, like our first book, has been praised by reviewers and scientists everywhere.  Interestingly, it has been translated into and published in Korean and Indonesian.

This is a review of The World of Caffeine from The New England Journal of Medicine.
Malcolm Gladwell’s review of The World of Caffeine which appeared in The New Yorker.
High praise from NewScientist for The World of Caffeine.
This is an article on caffeine published by National Geographic that mentions our books.
Another send up, from Kirkus Reviews.

WNYC: The Leonard Lopate Show: “Please Explain: Caffeine
“Please Explain: Caffeine” answers all of our caffeine-related questions, from whether or not we should drink coffee before we run a marathon to how caffeine differs from other stimulants. Bennett Alan Weinberg, co-author of the book The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug, explains how the world’s most popular drug affects us.
NPR’s Weekend Edition: “Caffeine – The Lure of the Bean
Listen as Scott Simon talks to Bennett Alan Weinberg.
Minnesota Public Radio: “The Daily Circuit” with Tom Webber.  Interview with Bennett Alan Weinberg, coauthor with Bonnie K. Bealer of the book The World of Caffeine, about, “What You Should Know about Caffeine.”
Minnesota Public Radio:  “Midmorning” with Kerri Miller.
Guests: Roland Griffiths: Professor in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Over the past two decades, he has published nearly 45 scientific papers on caffeine.  Bennett Alan Weinberg: Coauthor with Bonnie Bealer of the book The World of Caffeine
Wisconsin Public Radio:  To the Best of Our Knowledge                              Caffeine” – Bennett Alan Weinberg is the co-author (with Bonnie Bealer) of The World of Caffeine: the Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug.  He talks with Anne Strainchamps about how little we actually know about this vegetable alkaloid.
Talking History: The History of Caffeine“.  Eileen Dugan discusses the history of caffeine with her guest, Bennett Alan Weinberg.


Highlights from reviews of The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug, by Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer (Routledge, 2001)   
  • Nominated for the 2002 James Beard Foundation Award
  • Winner of the 2001 André Simon Memorial Highly Commended Prize
  • Cited as an authority by The National Geographic and The Columbia Encyclopedia
  • Translated into and published in Italian, Spanish, and Japanese

 Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker (July 30, 2001): 
“A marvelous new book….The modern personality is, in a sense, a synthetic creation: skillfully regulated and medicated and dosed with caffeine so that we can always be awake and alert and focused when we need to be.…Many fascinating café yarns….Give a man enough coffee and he’s capable of anything.”
 Washington Post (February 18, 2001):
“A flavor reminiscent of Daniel Boorstin’s The Discoverersthe book’s engaging, easy style allows readers to zip through it like a jolt of good java, or savor it slowly like a good cup of tea.”
Hugh Kenner in the Wall Street Journal (January 30, 2001):
“A magnificently researched book filled with revelations….”
Dr. Peter B. Dews in the New England Journal of Medicine (April 19, 2001): 
“The scholarship is impressive….The text is rich with information, yet it is easy and pleasant to read.”
Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2000):
“An amazing book…filled to the brim with a challenging mix of history, science, medicine, anthropology, sociology, and popular culture, then add a dash of humor, a pinch of polemic, and a dollop of healthful skepticism….Briskly written, full-bodied, and flavorful. “
Times Literary Supplement (April 6, 2001):
“Encylopaediac…a thorough study, and a careful one…daunting enthusiasm…a wealth of interesting data.”
Wired Magazine (March, 2001):
“With chapters devoted to the history, science, and cultural significance of coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks, The World of Caffeine reveals a great deal of surprising information about the chemical that we all take for granted.”
Food and Wine (February, 2001):
“An eye-opening explanation of the history and culture of coffee.”
 New Scientist (June 30, 2001):
“Caffeine shows no signs of surrendering its sovereign position in the hierarchy of humanity’s drugs of choice and I know of no other book that better explains how and why it got there….[Historical] stories have rarely been told with such skill…meticulous in describing the scientific and medical background.”
Financial Times (London) December 11, 2001
“An exhaustive but enthralling investigation of caffeine in all its forms, from its origins in Ethiopia to today’s ubiquitous coffee bar.” 
Boston Herald Editor’s Choice (December 29, 2000):
“This book holds everything we ever wanted to know…about the drug that helps many of us keep up with the fast pace of our lives.”
London Guardian (February 10, 2001):
“Here at last is a lavishly produced history of the world’s favourite mood enhancer, from Mayan chocolate to the Japanese tea ceremony.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer (January 14, 2001):
“With impressive felicity, Weinberg and Bealer marshal the forces of history, chemistry, medicine, cultural anthropology, psychology, philosophy and even a little religion to tell caffeine’s complicated story….Fascinating, generously illustrated volume.”
Dr. Roland R. Griffiths, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:
“Well-researched and entertaining…contains a wealth of fascinating cultural anecdotes, historical information, and scientific facts which provide a unique perspective on the world’s most commonly used mood-altering drug.”


28 Responses

  1. I was getting pretty keen on your site then I searched for info on machiato – zilch; then cortado – zilch; I had tried espresso and got pretty much the same. All about the drug then? How about coffee… and tea… – enjoyment not buzz?

    1. I’m very happy to learn that you have enjoyed our site. It is focused on caffeine itself instead of on all the dozens and dozens of things that deliver some caffeine. However, we’re always pleased to get suggestions to cover things we’ve left out of our discussions. So, thanks very much for the suggestions! Also: If you’d like, we’d be open to receiving posts from you about any caffeine related topic. If posted, you would, of course, be given full credit as the author.

      1. Caffeine is not “backed” by any big money interests. Caffeine is a wonderful drug that is use regularly and beneficially by over 90% of the human race. And, for example, caffeine definitely relaxes most people and even a small dose dramatically improves most people’s moods and energy levels. However, no drug is good for everyone! If you are one of the minority of people who find that they have to limit or eliminate caffeine use because caffeine makes them feel bad, you should limit or eliminate it. That is the simple truth.

        1. Hi Mr. Weinberg
          I never thought any drug could be wonderful, considering they all have side effects. I’ve got that caffeine buzz before, however there’s always that ugly crash afterwards.
          You say 90% percent of the world benefits from Caffeine, How do you know that for sure. Many people who consume caffeine don’t realize the caffeine is causing all their anxiety and lack of sleep.
          I know for many individuals with social anxiety and ocd, Caffeine exacerbates their symptoms. Don’t you think long term caffeine use will only deplete neurotransmitters like any other stimulant drug ?
          Have you ever been caffeine free for more than 3 months? …if so, didn’t you enjoy those high stable energy levels. Our bodies are not caffeine deficient , wouldn’t it be better if our system wasn’t being altered and worked naturally on healthy whole foods and water.
          Now I’m Italian Canadian, So I’ve drank my fair share of espresso’s, lattés, and I always pay for in later on, I feel drained 5-6 hours after . Caffeine is like a loan of energy from the bank with high interest rates.
          Peace, Adam

        2. Mr. Weinberg
          No Doubt Caffeine can be used as a tool when really needed, however when used daily ( even one cup a day) you’ll build a tolerance towards it, and you’ll need it just to feel normal.

          1. I am afraid that your e-mail is based on many common misconceptions about caffeine. For example, caffeine is not like “a loan from an energy bank at high interest.” This is an antiquated notion that was specifically proposed over 200 years ago, and it is totally wrong! Just one of caffeine’s amazing effects is to limit the uptake of the neurotransmitter adenosine. Doing this prevents adenosine from making us sleepy. So, caffeine isn’t “stealing energy,” just preventing the uptake of things that would otherwise have made us sleepy.
            Obviously, our bodies are not “caffeine deficient.” However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t benefit tremendously from the use of caffeine for physical and mental energy, mood enhancement, protection of our hearts, fighting cancer, fighting strokes, etc., etc.
            And, in the great majority of people, caffeine engenders relaxed energy and absolutely does not increase anxiety. And it certainly does not “deplete neurotransmitters”!
            By the way, most people are not as stupid as you seem to think. The fact that over 90% of people on Earth use caffeine regularly proves that people generally benefit from it and enjoy it, a conclusion supported by many double-blind, longitudinal scientific research studies of hundreds of thousands of people!
            However, as I have stated over and over and over, NO DRUG IS GOOD FOR EVERYONE. If you do not like caffeine’s effects, then, rather sadly for you, caffeine is not a good choice, and you should reduce or eliminate the caffeine you use.

          2. Caffeine should not only be used when “really needed.” Like any other valuable drug, it should be used whenever it can safely help you! By the way, the both the tolerance to caffeine and its benefits are strictly limited — that is why people who drink four cups of coffee a day when they are in their twenties are still drinking only four cups a day when they are in their fifties and sixties. More caffeine than you can benefit from actually erodes its benefit, so people do not keep increasing the dose of caffeine the way they tend to do with other stimulants such as methedrine.

          3. Caffeine should not only be used when “really needed.” Like any other valuable drug, it should be used whenever it can safely help you! By the way, the both the tolerance to caffeine and its benefits are strictly limited — that is why people who drink four cups of coffee a day when they are in their twenties are still drinking only four cups a day when they are in their fifties and sixties. More caffeine than you can benefit from actually erodes its benefit, so people do not keep increasing the dose of caffeine the way they tend to do with other stimulants such as methedrine.

  2. HI Bennett ,
    You claim how caffeine is beneficial for people with anxiety and depression. I’m a individual with anxiety, and I find caffeine from coffee makes my anxiety worse.
    Caffeine is borrowed energy that you’ll have to pay for later on in the day. I also find myself less depressed when I’m free of caffeine. It also hinders my hockey performance .
    In general , my mood and energy are way more balanced when I’m caffeine free. I think caffeine is such a nasty drug, and I really wonder why it’s promoted . Sounds like caffeine is backed by $$$$$.

  3. Hey Mr. Weinberg
    Now I’m going to express myself honestly and openly, because I’m straight forward type of guy.
    You state Caffeine limit’s the uptake of the neurotransmitters adenosine. Don’t you think altering neurochemistry daily is a negative. Adenosine gives the calming effect for a reason, meaning it’s time for people to relax or sleep.
    You said ” The fact that over 90% of people on Earth use caffeine regularly proves that people generally benefit from it and enjoy it ” ….. In my opinion, I think you’re wrong. I think many people drink it because they’re dependant on it. I’d say a large percentage of the world consume things that are not good for them, such as cigarettes, sugar, fast foods, alcohol, and many of them are happy.
    Secondly, Coffee without cream and sugar is not very tasty in my opinion, so many are aiming to just get that caffeine kick.
    Mr. Weinberg, I don’t think most people are stupid. We’re all human, no ones perfect. I think many people are misguided when it comes to nutrition, people are not in touch with what their bodies need. I’m just giving my opinion.
    I think you’d find Doctor Hymans article interesting. He also has many legitimate references. http://drhyman.com/blog/2012/06/13/ten-reasons-to-quit-your-coffee/#close

    1. Altering neurochemistry is neither harmful nor helpful. It depends on what the alteration is! For example, the inability of the body to regulate serotonin uptake has been proven to be the primary cause of migraines. Therefore, “altering” this failure, which is something caffeine does, is a great way of alleviating a migraine.
      Forgetting all the anecdotal evidence in favor of caffeine, how can you ignore the fact that over a dozen longitudinal double-blind studies of hundreds of thousands of people PROVE that caffeine extends life expectancy, largely by protecting our hearts from cardiovascular pathologies?
      I’m sorry you don’t like coffee, but many people, including me, love it! But there is no doubt that people drink coffee to get caffeine, which is a smart thing for most people to be doing.
      Perhaps most people are misguided. But scientific research demonstrates beyond doubt that using caffeine for enjoyment and health and life-style benefits is by no means misguided!
      (Dr. Hyman’s article is a tissue of misinformation and distortions and nonsense.)

      1. Hey you love coffee, That’s fine . I’m just think people should know the pros and cons about the beverage.
        I think the positives from coffee come from the antioxidants and not the caffeine. You can get tones of antioxidants from fruits and veggies.
        About the study, there was no cause and effect. How do we know what each individual in the study did in their life, what was their diet?….Maybe the coffee drinkers lived a healthier lifestyle compared to the non drinkers. Genetics also plays a role.
        Look at the studies done with antidepressant’s , Bogus fast studies funded by the Pharmaceutical giants . They’re starting to discover how dangerous SSRIs really are. Point I’m trying to make, Not all studies are done well.

        1. You are very confused about many things.
          Yes, coffee does deliver antioxidants. However, evidently you don’t realize that caffeine is a very powerful antioxidant, much, much stronger than the antioxidant Vitamin C! And in fact caffeine is by far the strongest antioxidant in coffee.
          You also don’t understand these longitudinal studies of hundreds of thousands of people over several decades. The scientists do in fact study the lives of the people they study and do study their diets, their genetics, etc. These are some of the best designed and best conducted studies in history!

        1. His comments about Parkinson’s Disease are particularly ignorant. Decades ago, it was proven that there was a dose-dependent relationship between caffeine intake and the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease. That is, even 100mg of caffeine a day decreases the incidence of Parkinson’s, but the more you use up to about 600mg a day, the less likely you are to get the disease. People who use a great deal of caffeine decrease their chance of getting the disease by over 65%!
          And his comments about breast cancer and blood sugar are similarly uninformed and absolutely wrong.
          I didn’t bother to read further than that.

  4. Actually 4 cups of Coffee can shorten your lifespan and can cause many other health problems according to this study. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10246709/More-than-four-cups-of-coffee-a-day-increases-the-risk-of-an-early-death-says-study.html
    And adenosine increases as you drink more caffeine, so when you miss your daily dose, you’ll feel tired…it’s a typical addiction, however more mild then other more potent drugs.
    Caffeine only gives Athletes a boost when they drink it on occasions or just before sporting events, this has been well documented.
    There is always a caffeine crash, that has also been well documented.
    Show me some proof from your ”studies ” debunking what I have wrote.
    I would love to see that

    1. Look at our book The Caffeine Advantage, or simply read the documentation on this web site to discover vast evidence that caffeine offers a dose-dependent INCREASE In lifespan! Several recent peer reviewed studies of well over 100,000 people in each study have proven that the more caffeine you use, the longer you will tend to live, because of the caffeine used!
      Also, caffeine does create a tolerance and suddenly stopping causes mild withdrawal in a minority of people. However, caffeine is definitely NOT ADDICTIVE. It does not satisfy the definition of an addictive substance or practice, which is something that hurts you but you are helplessly unable to stop using or doing.

      1. That study doesn’t have cause and effect. Do they state what type of Lifestyle the none coffee drinkers lived, what they ate etc.? that’s the problem with all these studies.
        Many Doctors have concluded that Caffeine is addictive, May not be extremely addictive like cocaine and other recreational drugs, however It causes dependence and the need to want more to achieve the same buzz.
        Many of the benefits that come from Coffee, come from the antioxidants and not the caffeine. Caffeine usually raises blood pressure and raises stress hormones, which is not very good for the body, this has also been well documented.
        I’m not saying caffeine is the devil, I used to drink in often however, it’s not good for you like everybody thinks.

        1. You are totally wrong. No doctors specializing in addiction treatment regard caffeine as addictive, simply because it absolutely does not fit the definition of an addictive substance. It is not “less” addictive than cocaine, it is just not in any way addictive. Look at my previous answer to find the definition of an addictive substance: Something that hurts you, but which you are powerless to stop using. No one ever lost his house, his wife, or his job because he couldn’t stop using caffeine. Also, caffeine is extremely beneficial for most users. People that don’t tolerate it well can simply stop using it if they choose. End of story. And caffeine IS very good for most people. Nothing in the world is good for everybody, including caffeine..

          1. Not everybody is powerless when addicted to cocaine, I’ve known many addicts who have used their will power to quit the drug and have succeeded . I’ve known people who used cocaine on occasions…what is one of the reasons Cocaine is addictive? answer.. It raises dopamine and other ”feel good chemicals” and makes people feel good, so they want to do it again. It also causes a physiological dependence.
            As with coffee, people love the Buzz they get from caffeine, some people cannot give up their caffeine dependence, they can’t get through the day without caffeine and they don’t want to go through the withdrawal effects because it will effect their mood and will effect how they function and work. You can have 2 cups of coffee until you’re 80 years old, doesn’t mean you’re not dependant on it. It’s not as strong as other drugs.
            Caffeine Dependence has been well documented. If you don’t realize that daily use of caffeine causes physical dependence and that your body builds up a tolerance towards it , you’re blind . And dependence is somewhat of an addiction. Just because it’s not classified as an mainstream addiction, doesn’t mean it’s not addictive. Dependence is a form of addiction.
            Let’s get one thing straight, not all people addicted to drugs are enable to function or are stealing to pay for their habit. It really depends on the wealth of the person. Caffeine is a cheap habit and is easy to attain.
            Addiction is not black or white, it’s on a Continuum and is more complex that you probably think.
            Smoking is considered addictive, do you see smoker’s robbing banks and selling their homes . I smoked for 5 years and quit without a problem, it was a joke quitting cigarettes.
            You have a Caffeine Bias, Big Time. I’m not surprised

          2. It is black and white. You just don’t get it. Cocaine and smoking can be harmful and even deadly and yet some people become addicted and are powerless to stop. Caffeine does not work that way. If you want to use the word “addiction” in some strange erroneous way, go ahead and do so. But I am finished with trying to explain this to you!

          3. What about people having 7-8 large coffee’s a day, it’s not good for them, however they might continue consuming it. I once knew an individual who had about 12 coffees a day, he told me he couldn’t function if he stopped, and that he got awful migraines if he tried .
            Do you see the correlation.
            In school we learned that a Clinical alcoholic can have just 1-3 drinks a day. The individual is dependant on the alcohol and is still able to function day to day. Apparently it is not so bad to have 1-2 drinks a day and may beneficial.
            Tell Mr. Weinberg, do you think all addictions are bad?

          4. You just don’t get it. By definition, all addictions are bad because addictions are habits that SERIOUSLY HURT or even DESTROY people but that they are powerless to stop. Not all addictions are based on drug use. For example, gambling can be an addiction.
            In contrast, metabolic dependence is not addiction. Many, many drugs– Prozac, for example– create a metabolic dependence. That means that they cannot be stopped suddenly without discomfort. But they can be tapered off, and if the user wants to, he can simply taper off and stop using them. Caffeine is another example. A minority of people do experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop suddenly. But any one can taper off and stop with little or no problem. The person you refer to would not get migraines if he understood that, if he wants to stop using caffeine, he is one of the people who should taper off its use gradually.
            People do all sorts of things that aren’t really good for them. They may or may not be neurotic. But that does not mean they are addicted to anything!

  5. This website makes me think of a friend who smoked weed all day. I wanted to stop only smoking once/twice a week, he told me no dont do that its good for your lungs to smoke weed sometimes.. People used to believe that. And reading science results myself in school i know they can be used/be beneficial to the financier. Or distilled to its desired ratio. English is not my first language so im sorry for the grammar.

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