The invigorating aroma of coffee might be doing more than helping you wake up in the morning—it might also be helping to relieve stress, according to a new report (J. Agric. Food Chem., DOI: 10.1021/jf8001137). Researchers have probed the psychoactive properties of coffee for decades, but a majority of the work has focused on the effects of consuming caffeine and other nonaromatic compounds found in brewed coffee. A group of researchers led by Randeep Rakwal at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology has now shown that exposure to coffee aroma can change the expression of antistress proteins in the brains of rats. The researchers used two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to find differences in protein expression patterns in stressed rats exposed to coffee aroma. They found that five proteins upregulated by coffee aroma have antistress properties. Induction of these proteins may help explain coffee's ability to counter stress and sleep deprivation, the researchers say. They are now looking to pinpoint the particular volatile chemicals in coffee aroma that provide the antistress benefits.