Why does coffee make you poop?

is coffee a laxative

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You’ve just woken up, had your first cup of coffee to get your brain fired up to cope with the day ahead. But you’ve found that straight after the coffee, you rush to the loo. Why does coffee make you poop, you wonder? Well here’s the answer.

While scientists can think of reasons and know the mechanics of how it happens, there is no clarity on why this happens or what it is in coffee that triggers it.

Why is the question so difficult to answer?

The reason it’s difficult to answer the question why coffee is a laxative is this effect may not be because of caffeine.

Energy drinks and cola don’t cause this and neither does tea. These drinks all have caffeine too. Decaffeinated coffee causes the urge to poop as well. So it is something about coffee.

There are so many chemicals in coffee and the human body has so many factors at play. Some of these are the level of acid in the stomach, hormones, sensitivity perhaps to certain food types. This is why understanding what creates the reaction isn't easy. 

Not enough research has been done yet to conclude anything other than the fact that coffee does create a strong reaction in the gut.

The lucky (?) one third

If your question had been does coffee make you poop, then the answer is a definite yes. 30-40% of the population find that coffee is a laxative for them.

If this is you, here's when this can be handy! If you are plagued by constipation, then a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning might be the answer.

Action -> Reaction - The mechanics of how coffee makes you poop

What scientists can tell you without a doubt is that when coffee hits the stomach, it creates a spontaneous powerful reaction in the gut. This is what causes you to have the urge to empty your bowels, something known as a gastrocolic reflex.

It’s a reflex which is why you often don’t have much of choice about rushing to the loo. (If you want to avoid this reaction, some people have found it useful to not have coffee on an empty stomach and to wait for two hours before the first cup.)


What causes this reflex? Is it the acidity, is it hormones speaking to your brain, is it a sensitivity to chemicals? Well, nobody knows just yet.

What about caffeine allergies? Well that's another article which you can read here.  

Wondering about whether coffee is good for you? Then read this article.