Coffee & Productivity
Coffee is no doubt the defining symbol of the American workplace. Over half of all adults over 18 drink at least three cups per day, mostly in the morning. But is all this coffee consumption really energizing us? Although you’ll hear people say they could never make it through the day (or even out of bed) without their morning cup of joe, it may be doing less for them than they realize. Knowing when to drink coffee will help you and your employees know how to get the most out of caffeine boosts. There are several important points to keep in mind.
Cortisol and Zeitgebers
Traditionally, the first thing many American adults do upon waking up is put on a pot of coffee. It’s expected that the caffeine buzz will lift a person out of sleepiness and energize them for the start of their day. Time is a very important factor in getting the most out of your daily cup of coffee– or statistically, your 3.1 daily cups of coffee.
There are certain markers a person experiences throughout the day that help the body maintain its circadian rhythm. These are called “zeitgebers.” They can be natural markers like the sunrise or the sound of birds in the morning, or artificial like the sound of an alarm clock. When the body experiences morning light, it naturally begins to produce cortisol a hormone that naturally wakes you up.
Consuming coffee during these times (an hour after waking up, or around noon) can actually decrease the effects of caffeine and leave you just as tired as you were before. Drinking coffee during these times can also lead to an increase in caffeine tolerance over time.
Just as important as when to drink coffee is how you drink it. Although many people decide to opt for the “venti,” drinking coffee in excess amounts in a short amount of time can actually decrease its effects. Instead, coffee should be consumed slowly, and in small amounts. This will decrease your body’s tolerance, and help you maintain a consistent energy level throughout the day. Fortunately, reducing the size of your coffee intake can have positive effects not just on your health but on your wallet as well!
Light Roast vs. Dark Roast
Even though dark roasts have a bolder flavor than lighter coffee, the stronger flavored roast sought by coffee connoisseurs actually contains less caffeine on average than lighter coffee. Caffeine is burned off during the roasting process, so in general the lighter the roast, the higher the amount of caffeine you’ll receive.
When trying to get the most out of your cup of coffee, eating can be just as important as drinking. The healthiest way of squeezing the most out of your coffee’s caffeine is to eat grapefruit.
Grapefruit contains a compound called naracin that slows your body’s removal of caffeine from your system. This helps slow the spike in energy after the first cup of coffee, and let’s the caffeine act more efficiently in your body.
Consuming coffee with a small amount of healthy fat can also help a great deal in your body’s caffeine absorption. For example, eating a piece of toast with grass-fed butter while drinking a cup of coffee will allow your body to retain the caffeine for longer, letting you feel more energy from just one cup.
A Good Cup of Coffee
All of these tips on coffee drinking will certainly help get the most out of every cup, but there is no substitute for high-quality coffee. Drinking low-grade coffee will not only get you less caffeine, but may contain some harmful mold and toxins. Try changing your coffee habits next time you reach for a cup and see how you feel!
This article was originally written on February 10, 2015 and updated on November 2, 2016.