Coffee: The Original Functional Beverage

March is National Caffeine Awareness Month, originally founded in 2003 to discourage caffeine consumption. Since then, numerous studies have not only debunked the myths surrounding caffeine, but also uncovered a whole host of health benefits for daily coffee drinkers. In fact, it turns out America’s favorite drink—coffee, of course!—is the original functional beverage.

Functional beverages have taken center stage in the nonalcoholic drinks industry in recent years, but coffee generally hasn’t been included in that category. Here’s why it should be, and how you can leverage the health benefits of coffee to boost your beverage business this month.

Disease-Fighting Antioxidants

Coffee beans are packed with antioxidants (substances that fight cell-damaging free radicals), some of which become even more potent after the roasting process. So every sip of coffee could be helping to aid in the prevention of cancer, liver diseases, Alzheimer’s and more.

Most people don’t stop to think about the fact that coffee literally grows on trees. A simple photo or poster of freshly picked coffee cherries can serve as a reminder that coffee beans are actually fruit seeds. Better yet, pick up a miniature coffee tree at your local nursery and put it by the register. It’s a great conversation starter if you want to talk to your customers one-on-one about the health benefits of coffee. You can take the conversation even further by posting pictures of your mini coffee tree on social media (if you’re lucky, maybe your guests will, too!).

Heart Health

Drinking coffee can lead to a healthier heart and, in turn, help you live longer. According to a study published by the American Heart Association, overall mortality rates were lower among people who drank one to five cups of coffee a day. While coffee can play a role in maintaining a healthy heart, it can also help to protect an unhealthy one. Researchers recently discovered caffeine triggers a protein that can aid in the protection and repair of heart muscle, even after a heart attack.

 Coffee can help protect hearts, and your customers can, too. Consider donating a portion of coffee sales to the American Heart Association during National Caffeine Awareness Month.

Diabetes Prevention

Numerous studies have found healthy adults who drink coffee habitually are less likely to develop diabetes than non-coffee drinkers. In fact, having just one more cup of coffee may be a very good idea. In 2014, researchers at Harvard found people who upped their daily coffee intake by more than one cup were 11 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. On the flip side, people who cut back by a cup of coffee a day increased their risk of developing diabetes—by a whopping 17 percent!

Raise awareness about this fact and boost sales by donating a portion of every refill to the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation.

Mental Health Benefits

For many people, morning coffee is a ritual, whether it’s brewed at home or purchased from the same friendly barista five days a week. Others look forward to meeting friends over a cup of coffee in the afternoon. In addition to the feel-good moments happening around coffee, studies have shown drinking it can increase alertness, elevate mood and help people collaborate more efficiently in group activities. One study even found moderate coffee consumption may help with depression symptoms and cognitive function.

Highlight the mental health benefits of coffee with a pay-it-forward campaign, encouraging customers to buy a cup of coffee for the next person in line, or to contribute to a coffee fund for first responders.

National Caffeine Awareness Month is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the health benefits of caffeine, boost beverage sales and help your customers live a healthier lifestyle, one cup of coffee at a time.