Coffee is many things. For everyone, it is delicious. For weekenders, it is a perfect early-morning drink. For the business person or entrepreneur, it is both these things as well as a productivity booster.
That said, if you do not drink coffee strategically, you cannot use it to its best effect. For instance, as a productivity booster, coffee should wake you up and help you stay awake. You certainly do not want to crash after a few hours and again in the middle of the afternoon. Finally, if you are operating a startup, you should know that long nights are better served by coffee than they are alcohol. As a result, you must drink coffee in such a way that you can continue your evening without getting an upset stomach or inducing acid reflux.
1. Understanding coffee
Researchers debate why people sleep, but they do not debate that sleep occurs as a chemical called adenosine builds up in your system. As the chemical levels increase, your brains soaks it up like a sponge. As your brain soaks up more adenosine, you drift off in your morning meeting.
Coffee inhibits the absorption of adenosine because like adenosine, it is classified as a xanthine. Simply put, caffeine, which is a xanthine, attaches to adenosine receptors, inhibiting its absorption because it, too, is a xanthine.
When it comes to coffee, timing is everything because your body never really stops producing adenosine, and caffeine never really completely halts its absorption. Consequently, as soon as you awaken, you only have a window of time before adenosine levels increase too high.
With this in mind, the best time to have a cup of coffee is currently under debate. Some researchers have shown that a cup as soon as you wake up in the morning is best because adenosine levels are at the lowest. During this time, the caffeine wakes you up because there is very little work to do, i.e., adenosine production has not yet gotten out of control. Additionally, caffeine causes your adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which increases blood flow and alertness. Again, this happens very effectively because caffeine is blocking adenosine from binding to receptors in your brain.
However, other researchers have shown that the best time to have your first cup is a couple hours after you wake up. Specifically, this first-cup window begins at approximately 9:30 am. If you cannot have it at 9:30 am, the sweet spot for a cup of java ends at 11:30 am.
The reason the two-hour window ends is because caffeine can effect you for up to 12 hours. After 12 hours, you will crash. Typically, the effects are less significant after eight hours, so you do not want to fill your system with caffeine within eight hours of sleeping.
More caffeine will produce more adrenaline. However, high levels will cause you to crash, and this crash is more pronounced when you drink extreme levels of coffee all at once.
To offset this wake-up-and-crash cycle, you can lower the strength of your coffee. Doing so will wake you up gradually and guide you into a soft landing. This is much better than sky rocketing into space the moment you get to work then free falling throughout your mid-morning performance review.
4. Pairing with tasks
If you need to do a lot of data entry, coffee is your best friend. However, if you need to brainstorm versions of a prototype, coffee will get in the way as it is known to interfere with creative pattern recognition that takes place in your right brain.
If you work an eight-hour day, you can easily adopt a coffee schedule between 9:30 am and 11:30 am. However, if you are averaging 18 to 22 hour days, you will likely need to vary the schedule. In these instances, you will still want to make last call at least 12 hours before you plan on going to bed. However, you should remember that your coffee schedule begins when you wake up. If you have the chance to nap during the day, your coffee schedule begins a couple hours after you awake. Simply put, a nap is a natural adenosine-lowering event that will help your coffee do its job.
6. Brewing coffee
If you did not know it, light coffee is the high-energy roast of coffees. Dark roast is not. Dark coffees are roasted longer, and this extended duration depletes some of the caffeine from the bean. You should consider this as you plan your day.
Another thing to remember is that coffee is brewed as water filters over the grounds. More surface area produces a stronger coffee. If your grinds are very fine, you will be brewing an intense pot of coffee. Conversely, if your grounds are rough and large, the coffee will be more mild.
With this in mind, a cup of coffee made from powdery grounds of light-roast coffee will be rocket fuel compared to a cup made from large granules of a dark roast. This is important to consider because that first cup of coffee can have vastly different effects on you as you wake up and proceed through the day.
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