Coffee has always had a mixed reaction when it comes to headlines.
For every positive study, there's always been a negative alternative, leaving conflicting messages about our morning brew.
However, the latest news is that regularly drinking coffee could help you lose weight.
Your body contains two types of fat: white and brown.
White fat is the stuff people want to shift if they need or want to lose weight, as it can be detrimental to health in excess.
Adipose tissue, aka brown fat, on the other hand, is good, as it helps keep your body insulated. It takes an enormous amount of energy to burn brown fat to stay warm.
Interestingly, many slim people have a relatively high percentage of brown fat, whereas overweight people tend to have less of it.
Brown fat burns sugar and other fats to generate heat and is normally only activated when your body is cold.
However, a new study from the School of Medicine at Nottingham University, has looked at the effect of coffee drinking on brown fat in humans, with very interesting results.
The team used thermal imaging to look at brown fat reserves before and after people drank a cup of coffee.
They were able to see whether the fat – located in this case around the neck – was activated and got hotter as a result of coffee consumption.
"Our study showed that a cup of coffee stimulates the activity of brown fat," says Professor Michael Symonds, who co-directed the research.
"This has the potential to help increase your weight loss, as brown fat contains a special protein called Uncoupling protein 1. When activated, it is the reason brown fat can rapidly produce so much heat – approximately 300 times per gram compared with any other tissue."
All of that adds up to a hefty calorie burn and may well help weight loss.
But that's not all – activating brown fat also helps to control the level of sugar and fat in your blood.
The coffee you drink needn't be a fancy blend, either. So far the research has only been conducted using a cheap and cheerful brand.
"One cup per day should work," says Professor Symonds, "but we've not yet looked at whether adding milk modifies the response or not."
So, until more is known, keep it black if you can!
It sounds too good to be true and, as often happens with new studies, there are potential pitfalls: one is that so far the brown fat only seems to be activated for a short period by the coffee.
Secondly, researchers haven't yet demonstrated a long-term adaptation for weight loss – although they haven't ruled it out either.
Thirdly, how much brown fat you have in the first place is a factor.
"We all have brown fat, although there is less in people who are overweight or obese. In fact, reduced brown fat function is likely to contribute to excess weight gain, and whether the amount can be increased or its activity enhanced remains to be established," says Professor Symonds.
However, for a stand-alone study, it is exciting.
Next, the team will be examining whether caffeine supplements have the same effect as the drink.
"The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern and we also have a growing diabetes epidemic. Activating brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling both," he says.
Here are a few more reasons you might want to brew some coffee this month for you and your loved ones.
The love of coffee is strong in Australia, with three in four of us enjoying at least one cup every day. If you're a coffee drinker, you might already be benefiting from these positive effects of the caffeinated drink!
WATCH BELOW: See how this mesmerising coffee art is created. Story continues after video.
Having 3-4 cups of coffee per day might extend your life expectancy.
Research suggests that most of us could get some serious overall health benefits from coffee, except for pregnant women and those at risk of fractures.
Alert at first sight
Did you know that looking at something that reminds you of coffee can help your mind become more alert?
It sounds ridiculous, but it's been proven by a University of Toronto study.
Try putting up pictures of coffee in your study to stay focused.
Boost your brain
Two compounds found in coffee may team up to fight Parkinson's.
Rutgers University scientists found that the combination of caffeine and a substance in the coating of coffee beans might protect against brain degeneration.
A previous study also suggested coffee can reduce the chances of both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Protect your fella
Men in particular could benefit from adding coffee to their day, as a recent study identified compounds in the drink that may inhibit prostate cancer.
Admittedly it's early days, as the study from the European Association of Urology hasn't yet been carried out on humans, but it is an exciting discovery.