Coffee’s full of benefits, can give you a jolt of energy, and smells amazing, so it’s not all that surprising that one may wonder if they can smoke it. People smoke tea and all kinds of other plant products, after all.
Before dipping into that dusty sample pack of holiday blend that’s been in your cupboard since Christmas, you should read this to find out what can happen if you smoke coffee.
It’s hard to say.
Back in 2014, the internet was abuzz with stories about teens smoking coffee to get high. Whether or not it was just a sensationalized “news” story or an actual thing can’t be verified.
There are people online claiming to have tried it, but as for actual case studies, zip.
The effects of coffee (when you drink it, at least) are well known. When it comes to smoking coffee, however, the only known side effects come from anecdotal evidence found online rather than from research-backed data.
According to people who claim to have smoked coffee grounds or beans (including one brave Vice journalist), side effects seem to depend on the amount of coffee and the method used to smoke it.
Smoking a small amount of ground coffee mixed with tobacco reportedly causes a head rush or lightheadedness in some people. In higher amounts, a couple of coffee smokers reported symptoms like trouble sleeping, jitters, and increased energy.
Those who turned to other methods of inhalation, like vaping coffee grounds, or using a bong or crack pipe to smoke brewed coffee, reported feeling pretty awful afterward.
The symptoms they reported included:
- intense coughing
- dry throat and tongue
- tension-type headache
- pounding or racing heart
Aside from the unpleasant effects discussed above, smoking anything carries health risks. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be smoking tobacco, crack, or any of the other usual suspects to harm your health.
According to the American Cancer Society, even things like herbal cigarettes with no tobacco give off tar, particulates, and carbon monoxide.
When inhaled, these things can cause respiratory irritation and damage and result in coughing, shortness of breath, and increase your risk of developing lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Let’s start by saying that caffeine vapes don’t usually contain coffee, so if it’s that smooth coffee flavor and aroma you’re after, a trip to Starbucks is your best bet.
Researchers are still learning about the long-term effects of vaping, so there’s limited information on what can happen when you vape caffeine.
Caffeine aside, vape products can contain other ingredients that have been linked to serious lung disease. Flavoring agents like diacetyl, for instance, have been found in many vape products. Diacetyl and other similar chemicals commonly used in vape juice can cause popcorn lung, a serious lung condition.
Caffeine vapes and similar products aren’t regulated by the United States, so it’s impossible to know for sure what you’re breathing in when you vape.
According to the
- ultrafine particles
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- cancer-causing agents
- heavy metals, like lead and nickel
E-cigarettes usually contain some nicotine, including in some products
The other potential risk with caffeine vapes is not knowing how much caffeine is actually getting into your system when you inhale. The amount you get per puff varies among brands — not to mention the length of your puffs.
Everyone reacts to caffeine differently. How the caffeine affects you is also determined by your tolerance and how much caffeine is already in your system from other sources (like coffee, other caffeinated drinks, and certain medications).
Life threatening caffeine overdose is
If you’re going to vape caffeine or use any other method to inhale caffeine-containing ingredients, it’s important to know the signs that you’ve had too much and when to get medical help.
Here are some of the potential side effects of too much caffeine:
Caffeine overdose can also cause severe symptoms that require immediate medical care.
Call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room if you experience any of these signs or symptoms:
Smoking coffee is unlikely to result in anything more than a waste of perfectly good Joe that could be better off enjoyed brewed and in a cup. If you want to get the proven benefits of coffee, just drink it. And if it’s a high you’re after, you’re probably not going to find it in a coffee cigarette (or vape).
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.