You don't need me to tell you, fellow caffeine junkie, that coffee is delicious. Nor do you probably need scientific evidence that when you haven't gotten quite as much sleep as you'd like (or hit the dreaded afternoon slump) your beloved brew can work miracles. But despite these obvious benefits, you still might be wondering if your daily coffee habit is such a good idea.

Why? Maybe because the caffeine haters have terrified you with scientific-sounding arguments that your beverage of choice is actually horrible for you. Here's one of my colleagues arguing that coffee is a success killer. Or how about this post entitled "19 Horrible Things That Can Happen if You Drink Too Much Caffeine". The headline pretty much says it all.

Of course, if you're at all-day, hand-shaking levels of caffeine consumption, these sort of articles might be onto something. No one is advocating 18 evening espressos here. But, if your coffee intake is within the normal bounds of three to five cups a day, take heart. Your cappuccino habit is probably not harming your health. In fact, it might even help you live longer, according to new research.

A massive study comes to a happy conclusion on coffee.

The study, led by Ming Ding from the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, is a meta-analysis of research on the subject, grouping together data on a massive sample of 208,501 people participating in three ongoing studies. Using questionnaires the scientists tracked participants' coffee consumption over three decades. Did lots of coffee result in dire health effects?

Nope, it resulted in longer life.

"Moderate coffee consumption reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease, neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, and Type 2 diabetes, scientists found. It also seems to lower the risk of suicide - but no association was seen with rates of cancer death," reports a write-up of the findings in the UK's Daily Telegraph. That held true whether or not the coffee contained caffeine. So decaf lovers, go ahead and celebrate too.

If it's not caffeine that seems to be having the positive health effects, then what is? "Bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation. That could explain some of our findings. However, more studies are needed to investigate the biological mechanisms producing these effects," Ding commented.

More research might be required to nail down exactly why coffee is good for you, but for now coffee lovers can content themselves with this cheering takeaway -- you don't have anything to fear from your daily brew (within reason!). Indulge without guilt.