Why do we love coffee so much?
“Coffee Mug #6" — Ratdesign.de
As an English person I want to state I love the ritual of afternoon tea, this article is not about coffee over tea! But in the morning it’s always coffee I crave. I love coffee in many forms, bulletproof, filter, espresso, depending on my mood, and I find for me, it helps me focus and pay attention to the tasks at hand.
Recently my company TinyBox launched a collaboration with our friends at Münchner Kaffeerösterei — we called the product The Innovator’s Coffee — and I have been asked — why coffee? What does that have to do with ideation or innovation?
Coffee stimulates our brain
What exactly is it about coffee that makes us more innovative? Well to better understand the we have to first understand how the caffeine in coffee affects the human body. So my friend Steven Mc Auley gave me a quick run down on how caffeine works:
Every moment we’re awake, neurons in the brain are firing away
As these neurons work, they produce something called adenosine
There are several different adenosine receptors in the body, but there is one in particular that caffeine seems to have the most affinity with, it’s called the A1 receptor
When we consume coffee, caffeine heads to the A1 receptor and impersonates it; caffeine is so similar to adenosine, the body accepts it as its own and then binds with these receptors
What happens from here — in simple terms — is that we become “plugged” and the brain no longer produces its own dopamine and glutamate; instead, caffeine takes over
Consequently, caffeine keeps the brain from coming to a halt when we are becoming fatigued and becomes an adenosine receptor imposter and starts producing its own stimulants
This explains why when that inevitable mid-afternoon crash hits us, and we have that feeling of malaise or fatigue, a cup of coffee can help stimulate brain activity.
When I am in the midst of ideation, creativity is at a peak and I want to keep going and solve the problem, or innovate a new solution, then coffee helps. It keeps me going physically and mentally.
Coffee improves physical and mental stamina
Coffee lovers will already know some of this, but for me it really does reinforce why my days always start with mug of coffee! There are many well-documented benefits regarding the magic bean we call coffee. Here are just a few ways that coffee is our teams chosen primary source of caffeine:
Coffee improves physical endurance — Yes it actually helps us become stronger and more resilient
Coffee increases energy — By creating the A1 receptor (see above) it gives us energy when we need it most, i.e. when we are feeling inspired and don’t want to stop!
Coffee increases motor function — Caffeine in general has the ability to stimulate us and improve our abilities, but caffeine found in coffee improves both our cognitive and physical motor senses, so whether we are busy at the keyboard or doing manual work outside, the consumption of a daily cup of coffee can keep us going for longer.
Coffee increases focus and attention — Several studies have explored the effects caffeine consumption has on visual attention. Most of these studies conclude that caffeine found in coffee, increases both selective attention, and sustained attention, maintaining focused attention over an extended period of time.
Coffee increases endurance — Studies demonstrate that caffeine can extend the time it takes to reach physical exhaustion — decreasing our sense of effort during any sort of activity, even those endlessly long meetings we are forced to endure — even online!
Coffee helps us learn things faster — A study from PLOS One reports that the intake of 200 mg of caffeine (approximately two cups of coffee) prompts the brain to identify words and phrases more quickly. The study also found that coffee consumption leads to improved short-term memory and an increased ability to solve reason-based problems. Whether we’re learning new technology, attempting a new hobby or simply going over paperwork, coffee can make us more productive.
Coffee rituals increase creativity — We know that coffee improves our ability to focus, but does this interfere with the ability to be creative? Research suggests that coffee can actually help people to be more creative, not by the chemical reaction but rather from how coffee connects us and thereby provides a conduit to inspire us.
Our partners at Münchner Kaffeerösterei espouse the concept that “Coffee Connects” and never has this been more true than getting together with friends and co-workers over a cup of coffee. It can break through social barriers and lead to more free-flowing conversations. A recent study showed that ambient noise and low-level sound prompts abstract thought processes, so sipping coffee on the front porch or at the local coffee shop (post-pandemic)— or even better, over a campfire — can help creativity!
Coffee eliminates the “spam”
Implementing The Innovator’s Coffee Ritual ( previous post) whilst drinking our first coffee of the day allows us to shift our mindset and become more focused, creative and powerful to master everyday challenges. I use it and the time it takes to brew my coffee in the morning to set my intention for the day.
The hidden benefits of drinking coffee are activating our spam filter.
Imagine if our email account didn’t have a spam filter, and for every relevant message we had to sift through hundreds of messages related to money scams, Viagra, and inkjet printer cartridges. A good cup of coffee helps to filter out internal and external “noise” and even our negative self-talk that can sabotage our otherwise sharp, clear perceptual acuity.
Having said all this, people often have the problem that they drink bad coffee and therefore their Coffee Ritual is weakened.Our main goal is to help people solve innovation problems, so we have solved this problem as well. That’s why we created The Innovator’s Coffee. A gentle yet powerful espresso blend for the perfect kick start to the day.
We love a good cup of coffee. And we love progress.
May the caffeine be with you.
. . .
To kick start your day, The Innovator’s Coffee Subscription comes with a free Coffee Ritual desk card!