BY STEVE BORN
I’ve written several articles that discuss the health benefits of drinking coffee, including:
- Coffee Protects Your DNA!
- Coffee Drinkers Enjoy Lower Risk of Diabetes
- Coffee Helps Protect Against Cognitive Decline
- Coffee Drinkers Live Longer
A recent study that caught me by surprise showed that men and women who drank 2-3 cups of coffee daily had lower blood pressure than those who didn't consume coffee. 
Nearly 3,000 participants, all free from cardiovascular disease, were enrolled initially in the Brisighella Heart Study (BHS) in 1972. This particular study included over 1,500 of those participants. A year before the 1972 study, participants answered questionnaires regarding the number of cups of coffee they consumed daily. Clinical evaluations of these participants were conducted every four years and included measurement of peripheral blood pressure, central aortic blood pressure, and more.
NOTE: Central aortic systolic blood pressure (CBP) is the pressure seen by the heart, the brain, and the kidneys. If properly measured, cSBP is more closely associated with hypertension-mediated organ damage and prognosis than cuff-to-intraarterial brachial SBP (bSBP). 
Lead study author Arrigo Cicero, M.D., Ph.D., states, “The results are very clear: peripheral blood pressure was significantly lower in individuals consuming one to three cups of coffee a day than in non-coffee drinkers. And for the first time, we were also able to confirm these effects with regard to the central aortic pressure, the one close to the heart, where we observed an almost identical phenomenon with entirely similar values for habitual coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers."
The researchers also noted, “In this study, we did not observe any clinically relevant association between arterial stiffness and self-reported daily coffee consumption…” (see Coffee—It’s A-OK for Your Arteries)
So what about caffeine? Dr. Cicero responds:
Effectively, caffeine is just one of the several bioactive compounds in coffee, which contains amounts of phenolic compounds (i.e., chlorogenic acids, cafestol, kahweol), alkaloids (trigonelline and, of course, caffeine), diterpenes (i.e., cafestol, kahweol) and other secondary metabolites all potentially involved in a large number of metabolic pathways in humans. Even though caffeine could increase BP levels (especially in individuals who usually do not drink coffee), the amount of coffee's bioactive compounds seems to counterbalance this effect with a final neutral-to-positive impact on BP.
Regarding decaf coffee, Dr. Cicero states that “we were not even able to estimate the consumption of decaffeinated coffee in our sample. However, considering the rural nature of the BHS population, it is possible to state with good approximation that most involved volunteers regularly drink caffeinated coffee.”