Like a lot of people, Andrew Cooper worked at a place where the cups of Joe overflowed. "The company was being run off caffeine and if you even looked at the artwork [in the offices] it was all about hustling and getting stuff done," he says. (Don't get him wrong, Cooper told me that he's all for productivity, but was starting to think the glorification of hustle culture was a bit much.)
Unsurprisingly, Cooper says his excess coffee consumption eventually caught up with him: "One day, I overdid it and just felt so terrible." He tried switching to tea, but found he still missed the taste of coffee. And since his only options were to go back to traditional java or opting for decaf—neither of which he wanted to do—he decided to create the very first coffee with a microdose of caffeine, Buzz Lite, as a means of enjoying smaller quantities of caffeine without the crash.
One cup of Buzz Lite has 10 percent the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee, which Cooper settled on because it's the same amount used for microdosing substances such as LSD and psilocybin (aka magic mushrooms). "My thought process was, caffeine is another psychoactive drug," he says. It's not a jolt of caffeine, just a nudge. Sometimes, that's all you need.
The brew is made by blending together decaf and regular coffee, at a 90:10 ratio. Cooper explains that the beans used for the 90 percent are decaffeinated through a natural sugar process, where sugar latches onto the caffeine to remove it, but not reduce the rich flavor of the beans. Then, the beans are mixed and roasted together.
What to consider when microdosing caffeine
Just like with regular java, the results may vary because people metabolize caffeine at different rates. This is why one person can have a cup of Joe after dinner and still sleep soundly, while the jolt from an afternoon latte may be enough to keep someone else up hours past their bedtime. But in general, you can expect the effects of Buzz Lite to be a fraction of what you'd get from a mug of drip coffee, which makes sense when you think about it.
More than anything, Cooper says he hopes that calling out exactly how much caffeine is in a serving (20 milligrams) on the label will lead to people thinking about the amount of caffeine they're consuming—similarly to how alcohol content is called out on beers, wines, and spirits. "We consume caffeine in a lot of different ways, including drinking soda and tea, but most people don't know exactly how many milligrams of it makes them feel a certain way, so hopefully this will start to help people make that connection," he says.
What a registered dietitian thinks
Robin Foroutan, RD, is a registered dietitian who is unaffiliated with Buzz Lite. In her unbiased opinion, she says it certainly could be beneficial to many people—particularly those who are sensitive to caffeine. "Some people feel super jittery after drinking coffee or experience digestive issues, so a lower caffeine amount could help people who don't tolerate it well feel more energized [without the negative consequences]," she says.
Foroutan adds that while Buzz Lite may be the first coffee with a microdose of caffeine, the idea of microdosing caffeine isn't new. "Actually, a lot of people do this without realizing it, such as nursing the same cup of coffee or latte for hours on end, or drinking a low-caffeinated tea throughout the day," she says. "And there are actually scientific studies showing that microdosing caffeine can be good for brain health."
When it comes to the health benefits of drinking coffee, Foroutan says caffeine content definitely matters. "There are many studies showing that drinking coffee regularly is linked to reducing the risk of certain inflammatory neurological conditions, like Parkinson's disease. But there are also studies showing that too much caffeine isn't good for you either," she explains, saying that this comes down to (once again) how quickly someone metabolizes the caffeine. Foroutan adds that the source of the coffee matters too, as some coffee is contaminated with mold or other pathogens.
All of this is to say that regular coffee, decaf, or something in between (like Buzz Lite) can potentially have positive health benefits—as long as you're mindful of your intake.
Watch the video below to learn more about the health benefits of coffee:
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