How Many People Could You Kill with All of the Coffee Drunk on Friends?

(Image: Warner Bros.)

The cast of the hit sitcom Friends spent a lot of time at Central Perk, a stylish coffeehouse in New York City. They drank a lot of coffee, often out of enormous 20-ounce mugs. Over 10 years, Chandler, Joey, Ross, Phoebe, Rachel, and Monica consumed a vast amount of caffeine.

You may be the sort of person who spends a lot of time asking, "How many people could I kill under a certain set of conditions?" If so, then Kyle Hill of Discover magazine has a great blog post for you. He's knows a bit about poisoning with caffeine and has helpfully crunched the numbers on how many people you could kill by caffeine overdose using all of the coffee consumed on Friends.

If each friend drank two mugs of coffee over each episode, the whole gang downed, in total, 445 gallons of coffee. You could brew that amount of coffee in five large water heaters. These six friends could start a small coffee importing company.

But it’s not just the liquid we are interested in, how much caffeine is in all that java? Going with the Starbucks standard, a 20 oz. coffee contains 480 milligrams of caffeine. Adding this number to the calculation, our friends consumed three whole pounds of caffeine over their 10 seasons. […]

There is no agreed upon overdose amount for caffeine (it depends on many factors like body weight and heart defects), but some reports put the value between 5 and 10 grams. If you distributed all the caffeine the friends ingested over the decade at Central Perk, it would be enough of the drug to send almost 300 people to the hospital—if not outright kill them.

Of course, each episode of Friends represents a small portion of the characters’ days (sometimes longer). So what if we are only joining the gang once a week? If each episode represented a week of time, on average, then these java junkies downed nearly 3,100 gallons of coffee—enough to fill over half a freight container. This amount of joe could send over 1,900 people to the hospital.


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