Is coffee good for you? Or is it bad for you?
The answer has flip-flopped since the 13th century when an Ethiopian goat herder discovered the coffee plant.
Looking strictly at science, Dr. Robert Davis tackles this question and many more in his new book, "Coffee Is Good for You," which he will speak about Thursday at Dock Side in Port Royal.
The event, which is sold out, is part of the University of South Carolina Beaufort's ongoing Lunch With Author series.
Davis said he wrote the book for two reasons. As a health columnist for WebMD and The Wall Street Journal, he received more questions about nutrition than any other topic -- and he saw that it was a major source of confusion for people.
"One day they hear something's good for you, the next day it's not," Davis said. "I wanted to focus on getting to the bottom of these issues, with unbiased science."
Davis' father was a cardiologist, and his mother, Hilton Head Island resident Scottie Davis, is a writer. A combination of these influences gave him a passion for health reporting, he said.
Davis is the editor-in-chief of Everwell, a health publication providing videos that are distributed via the Everwell TV network. In his position, Davis said he also saw the propaganda the public received regarding what is healthy or not.
"I get pitches every day, whether it's a food company or someone who's trying to sell something, and I see the kind of spinning that goes on to the public," he said.
After graduating from Princeton in 1986, Davis went on to earn a master's degree in public health at Emory University and a doctorate in health policy from Brandeis University.
He now teaches at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.
"I wanted to put that to work and look at the science as opposed to just believing the claims," Davis said. "I wanted to cut through the hype and a lot of the misleading information."
He begins the first chapter with coffee because it is the quintessential example of something many people consume but have heard conflicting health information on for a long time.
"I thought it was the ultimate example of a food that has flip-flop findings and that people are confused about," Davis said. "But the book is not just about coffee. It's about everything from red meat to red wine to high fructose corn syrup."
This book doesn't tell people what they should or shouldn't eat, and it doesn't lay out a fool-proof diet plan. Davis takes popular health claims, looks at science and then puts them on a truth scale, in which he tells whether a claim is believable, not true, half true or inconclusive.
"I want to give people objective information so they can make an informed decision looking strictly at science," Davis said.
So, is coffee bad for you?
Davis concludes no -- in fact, it might even be good for you.