You see it almost every day in any office, people making, pouring, and drinking coffee. Coffee is the lifeblood of virtually every workforce in America. In fact, many businesses provide their staff with complimentary coffee.
So, we know that a lot of people drink coffee, and a lot of companies provide these people coffee. But what are the advantages of drinking coffee at work? What are the disadvantages?
Advantages of Coffee
1. Improves Physical Health
You may have seen, or heard of studies, in the past, linking coffee consumption to negative health outcomes. In fact, there are multiple studies and meta-analyses that point to the opposite.
Drinking a moderate amount of coffee every day (usually considered 2-5 cups) has been linked to countless positive health results. An article in the New York Times found that drinking coffee has been linked to:
- A decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Lower risk of strokes
- Reduced risk of heart failure
- Lower relative risk of liver cancer
- Decreased chances of developing Type 2 diabetes
- Fighting inflammation and disease
- Eliminating dangerous free radicals (Coffee is considered an antioxidant)
Healthier employees help your business twofold. They use less medical insurance, they are absent less, and have been shown to be more productive on average.
2. Strengthens Your Brain
Coffee has as many positive effects on your mental health as it does on your physical health. According to the New York Times, coffee consumption has been associated with:
- Lower risks of Parkinson’s disease
- Lower cognitive decline
- Potential protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease
Similarly, the anti-inflammatory agents found in the oil in coffee has been linked to protecting your brain from stress-inducing hormones. In fact, coffee can protect the brain from oxidative stress and DNA damage.
These oils help protect the brain against these stressors and strengthens its ability to withstand exposure to stress. Work stress costs businesses an average of $300 billion a year due to stress-related health care and missed work.
3. More Alert
This advantage is one that any coffee drinker already knows. But, really anyone who consumes caffeinated beverages will know. You’re tired, fuzzy, you feel like you can’t take that sheet off and roll out of bed.
What’s the first thing you go for? A hot cup of coffee. Now, caffeine doesn’t actually wake you up. But it does stop the substance your body creates that makes you sleepy, adenosine.
Caffeine blocks your brain’s adenosine receptors, which tricks your brain into thinking that it’s not sleepy. Additionally, the caffeine in coffee boosts your brain’s energy levels.
4. Increased Creativity
Coffee, the act of getting coffee with other people, and even coffee shops themselves can have a positive effect on your creativity. Research from MIT supports the notion that coffee can help creativity in both individual and group settings.
Sitting down over coffee can break down social and professional barriers, which leads to more casual and free conversations. Individually, we know that coffee makes us more alert, which can stimulate your brain and lead to increased creativity.
As for coffee shops, the ambient noise they produce can also aid creativity. According to a Journal of Consumer Research study, low-level sound makes it tougher for the brain to process information, which can lead to more creative problem-solving.
5. Learn New Things Faster
There is new evidence that the caffeine in coffee can actually aid comprehension and learning. A study by the journal PLOS One discovered that 200 milligrams of caffeine prods the brain to identify words and phrases more quickly.
A different study found that college students who took 200 milligrams of caffeine could better recall words from six lists of 15 words each. This study also revealed that drinking coffee led to improved short-term memory and an increased ability to problem-solve.
Regular coffee consumption may even improve mental functioning overall as we wage. Researchers at the University of Barcelona found that caffeinated beverages when consumed with glucose, aid cognitive functions.
The researchers said that this consumption can improve “cognitive performance in terms of sustained attention and working memory.” Effectively this means that drinking coffee at work can actually improve your performance.
Disadvantages of Coffee
1. Disrupts Sleep
Caffeine, whether you believe it or not, does have an effect on your sleep. Caffeine has a six-hour half-life. This means that it takes a full 24 hours for caffeine to completely work itself out of your system.
So, if you drink coffee after noon, it will still be around 50 percent strength when you go to bed. This caffeine can then affect the amount and quality of sleep you get. According to The Globe and Mail, a lack of sleep, in turn, affects your self-control, focus, memory, and information processing speed.
Disrupting your sleep with caffeine can result in a vicious cycle of poor sleep, increased caffeine intake, and then even less sleep. If you don’t eventually repay this sleep debt, you will begin to feel the effects of sleep deprivation more and more.
2. Boosts Adrenaline
Caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline. In small doses adrenaline can improve energy and focus. Too much adrenaline; though, can increase anxiety or panic. If you’re prone to anxiety or panic attacks, coffee could trigger these episodes.
If you’re under a lot of stress at work, drinking coffee could actually exacerbate this stress and lead to poor decision making. When your adrenaline is triggered, your brain can sidestep rational thinking in favor of a quicker response.
Responding quickly is usually a good thing. Still, when you’re making emotional decisions rather than rational ones, chances are that you’ll make a lot of poor ones.
3. Creates a Dependency
Caffeine is an addictive substance, and your brain can become physically dependent on it. Similarly, your body becomes more and more tolerant to caffeine over time and consumption.
So, if you drink coffee regularly and then stop, it could wreak havoc on your body and mind. As with any other drug, once you’ve built an addiction you will go through symptoms of withdrawal if stop using it.
According to Travis Bradberry, research from Johns Hopkins Medical School demonstrates “that performance increases due to caffeine intake are the results of caffeine drinkers experiencing a short-term reversal of caffeine withdrawal.”
Providing coffee at work can be a true asset to your firm, but should be monitored carefully. Moderation, like almost anything, is the key to coffee consumption. So don’t throw that Keurig machine away.
The difference between a productive employee and an office zombie could be that cup of java.