Drinking a cup of coffee in the morning gives most of the caffeine jolt we need to start our day, but for some teens, smoking coffee is what gives them a different kind of caffeine high. Rolling coffee grounds or coffee beans up into “caffeine sticks,” using cigarette paper or glass tubes, has gone “viral,” as teens learn how to smoke coffee from a variety of websites. Parents and doctors now wonder if smoking coffee could pose any serious health risks for this impressionably young group.  

Doctors told WCCB-TV, the “trend” is not actually new, though there has been a spike in the number of teens who smoke coffee over the past few weeks. To crack some fun at the trend, a series of websites like Porkulent have written a satirical post on how to build a makeshift coffee crack pipe. Smoking coffee has not been chronicled on social media, and there are a very limited number of videos on YouTube showing “bean heads” having a smoke.

However, three years ago, the users on Reddit and YouTube shared their experiences of “burning” with the drug. In 2011, Reddit user RhymesWithEloquent wrote a post titled “Stupid idea of the week,” where he discussed the pros and cons of smoking a coffee joint. “Smoking coffee is great. Yes. You read that right,” he wrote. “First of all, compared to tobacco smoke, coffee smoke is surprisingly smooth.” The Reddit user concluded his post saying smoking coffee grounds in a joint “does work,” but “I don't recommend doing it often, as the health effects of smoked coffee grounds have not really been studied in a legitimate academic context, but I don't think smoking coffee just once will kill anyone.”

On YouTube, an Iraqi war veteran, as part of his “Rejex Dumb Dummy” project, uploaded a video of smoking coffee in close quarters. “I never tried it before,” said the user down4mah2. “I didn’t know they were flammable,” he said as he lit the bean with a lighter. 

While drinking a cup of coffee might not kill anyone, smoking caffeine could lead to undesirable side effects such as difficulty breathing, dizziness, vomiting, and hallucinations, according to WCCB. These effects can be very similar to those of a caffeine overdose. The likelihood of this type of overdose increases when you ingest more than the recommended amount of caffeine – usually 200 to 300 milligrams per day, says Healthline. People will experience the symptoms of a caffeine overdose until the substance is completely excreted out of their system. It is very rare to experience death.

Las Vegas residents aren’t too worried about this trend among teens. “We’re about to legalize marijuana all over the United States,” said an older, unconcerned citizen to KTNV. “I think we can live with a few bean heads.” Only time will tell if doctors and parents should probe further into smoking coffee.