Coffee presents us with a genuine embarrassment of riches. We know that caffeine improves
exercise performance and gives us an energy boost, and coffee is among the most enjoyable
ways to obtain it. Between its soothing aroma, bold flavor, and potential benefits for a variety of health outcomes, one must wonder, “What’s the catch?”

One dark day in 1998, a potential catch was proposed. In a controlled research study [1], Graham et al. sought to determine if coffee and/or caffeine enhanced running performance in endurance-trained participants. The results were quite surprising; caffeine capsules improved endurance performance, but caffeinated coffee did not. Further, subjects consuming decaffeinated coffee with caffeine capsules also failed to see a performance enhancement. In each of the treatments, caffeine content and beverage volume was exactly the same. As we know, there’s a whole lot more to coffee than caffeine and water; hundreds of potentially bioactive compounds abound in each delicious sip [2]. The authors speculated that one such family of compounds, collectively called chlorogenic acids, interfered with the performance-enhancing effects of caffeine [1], and there is some evidence indicating that such a mechanism is plausible [3].

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