The reasons for drinking coffee are many. Maybe it’s the vastness of the flavor potential that pulls you in, perhaps it’s the ritual you find so compelling, or maybe you just need a damn energy boost. For me all three are contained in a single morning’s Chemex. But if you’re one that prioritizes the caffeinated effect of your coffee, you may not want to do your brew the first thing in the morning.
The frankly unfortunate news comes via the Huffington Post, who states that for maximal caffeinated benefit, you should wait at least an hour after waking up to drink your coffee.
It’s not that caffeine isn’t effective in the morning. The issue, according to the article, is that drinking coffee immediately upon waking up will have the associated caffeinated jolt taking place at the same time—and competing with—your body’s natural energy spike.
Per the article, it’s all about the cortisol. Perhaps better known as the stress hormone, cortisol levels naturally spike in the mornings, and along with adrenaline, gives you pep and energy to take on the day via increases in blood sugar levels. Caffeine also causes spikes in blood sugar, so consuming caffeine when your body already has high cortisol levels doesn’t allow you to get the most out of either. And in some, the compound effects of the two can cause the dreaded jitters.
Instead, the article suggests waiting about an hour for that first cup of coffee. This will allow that alertness and focus via cortisol to reach its natural peak around 30 to 45 minutes after you wake up before letting the caffeine do its thing.
There may also be a psychological benefit to holding off on your morning coffee as well. Per licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) Peter Douglas, “Anticipation brought on by delay can heighten your senses and satisfaction with any substance, including caffeine… Once your morning cup of joe becomes a part of your routine, it’s predictable. Consistency is an agent of dullness.” I feel personally attacked.
Though perhaps the best argument for holding off on drinking your coffee is due to enhancing the enjoyment of it. As LCSW and holistic psychotherapist Alison Stone notes, it may be difficult to truly savor and enjoy your coffee if you’re slugging it down while “doing a million things and running out the door.” Waiting until you actually have a moment to focus on your coffee may allow to better appreciate it.
This is all well and good, but I’m still making and drinking my Chemex as soon as I wake up. I rather like my boring, predictable ritual—the finicky nature of the Chemex is provides more than enough unpredictability—and the five minutes in the early morning where dad is not legally allowed (I’m presuming) to answer any questions or turn on Netflix or anything else that distracts from that simple, centering moment of slowly and purposefully pouring water over coffee grounds. Then the first cup is about function, the second about flavor. It’s perfect in every way and I won’t let an entire wardrobe full of lab coats tell me otherwise.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.