As many asparagus eaters know, certain foods can have an affect on your pee. (Just ask anyone who forgot they ate beets and then were certain death was upon them.) But did you know that coffee is one of those foods? For some people, drinking coffee makes their pee smell like coffee, which doesn’t sound half bad honestly. As it turns out, though, it’s a sign of unhealthy urine, and so today we are taking a look at what may give someone the coffee pee.

I have to admit, in all my years covering the nexus of coffee and bodily movements—a more expansive library than I would have guessed—I have never once heard of coffee having this sort of effect on one’s liquid waste. And I’m not the only one. When I asked around the Sprudge offices, no one else had heard of such a thing either. “Not in even my most wildest x6 daily 40oz Iced Coffee Challenge Summer. (That’s where you chug 40oz of iced coffee.)” averred co-founder Zachary Carlsen, which itself needs to be unpacked but it is not within the purview of this particular article. But according to Talk Radio News it is a real thing, and its root cause may be consuming excessive amounts of coffee.

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Per the article, one of the many compounds coffee contains is called hydroxycinnamic acid and it is a polyphenol “responsible for the health benefits and signature smell of coffee.” When you drink coffee, hydroxycinnamic acid gets broken down into a metabolite, a waste substance, that then gets passed through your pee, causing your urine to smell like coffee. Drinking more coffee leads to higher concentration of these metabolites in your waste, making the coffee odor stronger.

Dehydrations is also given as a potential factor. According to the article, caffeine causes one to urinate more, which they say leads to higher levels of dehydration. (Of course, this has all but been disproven. Though caffeinated coffee can cause one to use the restroom more quickly, it is also made up of 98% water, and the amount of waste you are expelling isn’t ever greater than the amount you are taking in via coffee.) But if you are dehydrated—and have coffee to pass—your urine will be more concentrated with compounds because there is less water to spread them out. Along with given your pee a darker appearance, dehydration could also lead to more pungent, and in this case coffee-smelling, urine.

Talk Radio News suggests those with coffee pee who want to get more healthy, clearer, and odorless urine to consume less coffee and less caffeine in general. Thankfully, my pee doesn’t smell like coffee so I will not be doing either of those things. Or my nose has grown accustomed to that particular brand of pee-pee odor, and that is also good enough for me to not veer from my current coffee course. Both are fine.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

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