Does Coffee Cause Kidney Stones?

Posted by Alerna Kidney Health on


  • Coffee's intricate composition includes antioxidants and oxalates, influencing kidney health in complex ways. A balanced approach is key.
  • Recent research defies common beliefs, indicating that caffeine intake inversely correlates with kidney stone risk, especially in specific groups.
  • Nurture kidney health by staying hydrated, controlling intake of oxalate-rich foods, and embracing a low-salt, low-sugar diet while maintaining an active lifestyle for optimal kidney support.
  • Opt for kidney-friendly beverage alternatives including hydrating water that flushes out toxins, potassium citrate to reduce urine acidity and hinder crystal formation, antioxidant-rich herbal teas, calorie-free sparkling water without added calories or sugars, and consider moderate milk intake with a doctor's consultation.

Coffee, often considered the fuel of modern life, holds a significant place in our daily routines. According to The National Coffee Association**[1]**, it ranks as the most common daily beverage in the United States, even above tap water. Its widespread consumption has prompted extensive scholarly research to understand its effects on health. In this article, we delve into the relationship between coffee and kidney stones, exploring whether this beloved beverage plays a role in their formation or prevention.

Coffee and Kidney Stones: Can Coffee Cause Kidney Stones?

Navigating dietary choices when dealing with kidney stones can be a challenging task. Coffee often finds itself in the spotlight regarding its impact on kidney stone formation. Let's explore whether coffee consumption is safe and advisable when kidney stones are part of the equation.

Can You Drink Coffee With Kidney Stones?

The notion of enjoying your daily cup of joe while managing kidney stones might seem contradictory due to concerns about oxalates. Oxalates, natural compounds found in various foods, including coffee, can contribute to the formation of calcium oxalate stones – one of the most common types of kidney stones.

If you have kidney stones, talking to your doctor about what you can and cannot drink is important. In general, it is safe to drink coffee in moderation if you have kidney stones. However, if you are prone to forming calcium oxalate stones, you should limit your intake of coffee, as caffeine can increase the amount of oxalate in your urine.

The relationship between coffee and kidney stones is more complex than it may seem.

coffee and kidney stones

Coffee and Kidney Stones: Is there a connection?

A recent study [2] delved into the association between caffeine intake and kidney stone risk, yielding unexpected results. Contrary to concerns, caffeine intake showcased a negative correlation with kidney stone risk. This discovery contradicts popular beliefs and highlights the complex impact of coffee on kidney health.

Another study published in the National Kidney Foundation's American Journal of Kidney Diseases [3] found that people who drank more coffee were less likely to develop kidney stones. The study also found that the more caffeine a person consumed, the lower their risk of kidney stones.

It also highlighted that caffeine's protective effect was most noticeable in specific groups, like fair-skinned individuals, women, and non-overweight individuals.

Does coffee have ingredients that may affect kidney health?

Coffee is a complex beverage composed of various compounds that can influence the body in different ways. When it comes to kidney health, it's essential to consider its potential ingredients and their effects.

In addition to caffeine, coffee also contains other ingredients [4] that may affect kidney health. For example, coffee contains antioxidants that can help protect the kidneys from damage. Coffee also contains magnesium, which is a mineral that is important for kidney health.

However, coffee also contains oxalate, which is a compound that can form kidney stones. The amount of oxalate in coffee varies depending on the type of coffee and how it is brewed. For example, dark roast coffee tends to have more oxalate than light roast coffee.

Coffee isn't just a blend of beans and water; it's a concoction of caffeine and antioxidants that can impact your kidney health. While moderate caffeine intake might be manageable for most, it's crucial to remember that excessive consumption can strain your kidneys. The antioxidants in coffee offer potential benefits, but the interplay of various compounds demands a balanced approach.

What Other Beverages Have Caffeine?

caffeine and tea

Caffeine isn't limited to the aromatic embrace of your morning coffee; it's a character that finds its way into an array of beverages, each offering a unique sip of stimulation. While coffee takes the spotlight, let's explore the diverse range of drinks that carry this ingredient**[5]**:

  • Teas: Your trusted companion in contemplative moments, tea hosts caffeine too. Varieties like black, green, white, and oolong tea contain varying caffeine levels, offering a gentler lift compared to coffee.
  • Energy Drinks: Crafted to ignite vitality, energy drinks pack a caffeine punch for quick energy bursts. However, their high caffeine content demands moderation to avoid overstimulation.
  • Soft Drinks: Effervescent companions to celebrations, certain soft drinks – particularly colas – infuse caffeine amidst sweetness, contributing to your daily caffeine intake.
  • Chocolate Drinks: More than a treat, chocolate holds a modest caffeine dose. While milder than coffee, indulging in chocolate adds to your daily caffeine intake.
  • Iced Teas: A refreshing option on warm days, iced tea brings caffeine too. Opt for unsweetened versions to enjoy the revitalizing effects without added sugars.
  • Carbonated Colas: Classic cola boasts caffeine, offering a mild pick-me-up in a carbonated form, combining iconic flavor with a subtle caffeine lift.

Balancing your caffeine intake from various sources contributes to a mindful approach to your overall well-being.

Kidney Health: Tips for Coffee Consumers

If you enjoy drinking coffee and have kidney stones, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of developing more stones. These tips include:

  • Drink plenty of water. Water helps to flush out waste products from the body, which can help to prevent kidney stones from forming.
  • Limit your intake of oxalate-rich foods. These foods include spinach, rhubarb, beets, and almonds.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt and sugar.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise helps to keep your kidneys healthy and functioning properly.

Other Kidney-Friendly Options

kidney friendly drinks

If you are looking for kidney-friendly beverages, there are a few options that you may want to consider. These include:

  • Water: Water is the best beverage for kidney health. It helps to flush out waste products from the body and prevent kidney stones from forming. It is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you are active or live in a hot climate.
  • Potassium citrate: Potassium citrate is a salt that can help prevent kidney stones. [6] It works by making the urine less acidic, which makes it harder for calcium oxalate crystals to form.
  • Herbal tea: Herbal teas are a good alternative to caffeinated beverages. They are caffeine-free and contain antioxidants that can help protect the kidneys from damage. Some good choices for kidney health include chamomile tea, ginger tea, and dandelion tea.
  • Sparkling water: Sparkling water is a good choice if you are looking for a refreshing beverage that is low in calories and sugar. It is important to choose sparkling water that does not contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Unsweetened juice: Unsweetened juice can be a good source of vitamins and minerals, but it is important to limit your intake. Juice is high in oxalate, which can increase the risk of kidney stones. If you do drink juice, choose 100% juice and dilute it with water.
  • Milk: Milk is a good source of protein and calcium, which are important for kidney health. However, milk is also high in phosphorus, which can be harmful to people with kidney disease. If you have kidney disease, it is important to talk to your doctor about how much milk you can safely drink.


Click here to find out more about how potassium citrate may help you manage your kidney health.


When to Seek Medical Advice?

If you have a history of kidney stones or concerns about kidney health, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable. They can provide personalized advice based on your health status, dietary habits, and risk factors.

It is also important to see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in your side or back
  • Blood in your urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever


The relationship between coffee and kidney stones is complex and not fully understood. Some studies have shown that coffee may help prevent kidney stones, while others have shown that it may increase the risk. More research is needed to determine the exact relationship between coffee and kidney stones.

If you have kidney stones, it is important to talk to your doctor about what you can and cannot drink. In general, it is safe to drink coffee in moderation if you have kidney stones. However, if you are prone to forming calcium oxalate stones, you may want to limit your intake of coffee, as caffeine can increase the amount of oxalate in your urine.

There are many other kidney-friendly beverages that you can choose from. If you are concerned about your kidney health, talk to your doctor about the best beverages for you.

Caffeine and Kidney Stones: Frequently-Asked-Questions

Does Caffeine Damage Your Kidneys? Caffeine, when consumed in moderation, is generally not known to damage kidneys directly. However, excessive caffeine intake can potentially strain the kidneys and impact blood pressure. Staying within recommended caffeine limits and staying hydrated can help mitigate any potential negative effects.

What Drinks Cause Kidney Stones the Most? Certain beverages, particularly those high in oxalates and sugar, can contribute to kidney stone formation. Drinks like sugary sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened fruit juices can increase the risk of stone formation due to their sugar content. High-oxalate beverages like tea, chocolate-based drinks, and even some herbal teas can also play a role in stone development.

Can Milk Cause Kidney Stones? Milk and dairy products are generally not associated with an increased risk of kidney stones. In fact, some studies suggest that moderate consumption of dairy products might even have a protective effect against kidney stone formation. However, individual reactions can vary, so it's wise to maintain a balanced diet and consult your healthcare provider.

How Can You Avoid Kidney Stones? To reduce the risk of kidney stones, staying hydrated is crucial. Drinking plenty of water helps dilute urine and prevent stone formation. Additionally, adopting a diet low in sodium, oxalates, and animal protein while incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can contribute to kidney stone prevention. Consulting a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance.

Does Decaf Coffee Cause Kidney Stones? Decaffeinated coffee is generally considered safe in terms of kidney stone risk. In fact, some studies suggest that coffee, both regular and decaf, might have a protective effect against kidney stone formation due to its potential influence on reducing stone-promoting compounds. However, individual responses can vary, so moderation and balanced dietary choices are key.


    1. The NCA USA Economic Impact Report. National Coffee Association of U.S.A., Inc. Retrieved August 15, 2023, from
  1. Geng J, Qiu Y, Kang Z, Li Y, Li J, Liao R, Qin Z, Yang Q, Su B. The association between caffeine intake and risk of kidney stones: A population-based study. Front Nutr. 2022 Oct 10;9:935820. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.935820. PMID: 36299992; PMCID: PMC9589282.
  2. Yuan, S., & Larson, S. C. (2021). Coffee and Caffeine Consumption and Risk of Kidney Stones: A Mendelian Randomization Study. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 79(1), 9-14.
  3. Ősz, B.-E., Jîtcă, G., Ștefănescu, R.-E., Pușcaș, A., Tero-Vescan, A., & Vari, C.-E. (2022). Caffeine and Its Antioxidant Properties—It Is All about Dose and Source. International Journal of Molecular Sciences23(21), 13074.
    1. The Nutrition Source - Caffeine. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  4. Krieger NS, Asplin JR, Frick KK, Granja I, Culbertson CD, Ng A, Grynpas MD, Bushinsky DA. Effect of Potassium Citrate on Calcium Phosphate Stones in a Model of Hypercalciuria. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2015 Dec;26(12):3001-8. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2014121223. Epub 2015 Apr 8. PMID: 25855777; PMCID: PMC4657843. patients%2C the addition of,to decrease recurrent stone formation.&text=In a randomized%2C double-blind,cit decreased recurrent stone formation.
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