Coffee beans in a white bowl and dark chocolate scattered about a white table.

Here's Why You Love Black Coffee and Dark Chocolate

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A Genetic Link Between Black Coffee and Dark Chocolate

Do you salivate over the darkest, blackest coffee in your mug? No creamers, additives or extra flavors—just jet-black fuel running through your veins? Then studies show you are most likely to reach for a dark, bitter chocolate too. These tendencies may not just be a taste bud thing—it’s possible that your passion for the blackest, strongest cup of joe and the darkest chocolate may have been brewing in your DNA the whole time.

According to caffeine researcher Marilyn Cornelis, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, a genetic variant may just be the reason why it’s death before decaf for some people! People with the gene appear to metabolize the caffeine in coffee at a faster rate. They can drink coffee and enjoy it all day long. That also means they need to drink more coffee to enjoy its effects. For example, some people may get jittery or anxious after a little coffee, but people with the gene can handle more coffee with no side effects. And those that can drink more coffee also tend to prefer Death Wish Coffee—black.

Dark chocolate covered coffee beans sitting on a desk next to a laptop.

The same goes for chocolate. That coffee gene is also found in people preferring bitter, dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate. Dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate has a much lower sugar content and fewer calories. But beware—although chocolate contains some caffeine, it also contains a caffeine-related stimulant called theobromine. Overdoing it when it comes to this compound in the dark chocolate can increase heart rate and ruin your mood. Although consuming small amounts of dark chocolate each day is linked to antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, keep a heart healthy, lower the risk of diabetes, block cholesterol, boost mood and concentration, don’t forget that dark chocolate is packed with calories too, so be good to your waistline. Everything in moderation.

Cornelis and her team believe those people with the gene are not necessarily driven by the taste of black coffee or dark chocolate but rather the stimulation and mental alertness they get from the caffeine. It’s kind of a learned effect. They begin to associate bitterness with caffeine and the boost they feel—so they gravitate toward the dark coffee and dark chocolate.

The good news for black coffee (and dark chocolate lovers) is that the genetic trait not only satisfies your taste buds but also benefits your health. Studies have linked coffee (free of additives, sugars and fattening flavorings) to lowering certain diseases like stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and several cancers.

You rock, science. Looks like we can go for bold with no regrets!  

Inhale the rich, stone fruit and roasted peanut aroma coming from that mug of your favorite roast. Open wide and slowly nibble on that dark chocolate. These guilty pleasures are a perfect pair—tasty and good for your health!

RELATED: Benefits of Drinking Black Coffee