Close your eyes for a moment and picture a freshly brewed cup of java. What comes to mind? The intoxicating scent of coffee beans? The feelings of relaxation, happiness, and contentment? Or maybe you visualize waking up and starting your day with a boost of energy and alertness, hunkering down on that new assignment or project in the office with extra focus and concentration. Coffee is essentially the lifeline of the American workforce.
According to Zagat, 82 percent of Americans consume 2.1 cups of coffee daily, with consumption increasing with age. It is not only a commonly accepted staple of our culture, but has also become so closely tied to our work ethic. We crave it because of its positive effects on our cognitive functioning and productivity, which can only improve our success on the job. Not many of us need an excuse to drink coffee (let’s face it, we already adore it).
Since National Coffee Day is on October 1, there are multiple health benefits that are quite valuable to your work environment.
Improves Physical Health and Helps Protect Against Disease
Coffee contains special antioxidants that help protect against common diseases. According to a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study, drinking four or five cups of coffee daily has proven to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease by nearly 50 percent! This is in comparison to consuming zero or small amounts of caffeine. In addition, coffee has been shown to protect against Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while also contributing to lower rates of depression among women. Drinking a moderate amount of coffee daily (usually considered 2-5 cups), has been linked to positive health results, as outlined in a New York Times article. Research found that drinking coffee has been linked directly with:
- Lower risk of stroke
- Reduced risk of heart failure
- Lower risk of liver cancer
- Reduced inflammation and disease
- Eliminates free radicals
- Lower cognitive decline
- Protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease
- Decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes (affirming other study)
Healthier employees are the bottom line for a successful business. They are in the office more, spend less in health insurance costs and are consistently more productive, contributing to a steady workflow.
When we’re having a crazy day at the office, just the thought of coffee can be comforting, knowing we have an aid to help us tackle everything and power through the day. Perhaps there is even a more scientific explanation for this feeling than we realize. The anti-inflammatory agents found in the oil in coffee (kahweol and cafestol) have been linked to protecting the brain from stress-inducing hormones. More specifically, coffee protects the brain from oxidative stress and DNA damage.
Creates Social Opportunities
Equally satisfying, the notion of “taking a coffee break” offers employees the opportunity to socialize with their coworkers, which helps them to relax and de-stress while conversing about work or non-work related topics. This short mental break fosters engagement and a sense of well-being, which ensures that they can return to work with renewed focus and energy. A supporting 2010 study at MIT proved that employees who take coffee breaks together showcased improved productivity all around. Thus, coffee drinkers at work tend to be happier in their jobs.
Creates An Open Office Culture
Similarly, creating a common area for coffee and/or embracing coffee as a part of company culture can create a work environment that is open and engaged. It can foster new connections as it offers a forum to break down social barriers. It can also help new hires meet co-workers. Since the average worker has about three cups of coffee per day, there will be multiple opportunities for employees to interact with each other. This will foster a more cohesive, team environment. According to Psychology Today, a study found that coffee breaks can create cohesion and initiate close bonds with co-workers. Ultimately, team morale will improve as employees will look forward to their daily coffee ritual, open conversations and will feel more positive about the overall work day.
Boosts Alertness, Energy and Productivity
Perhaps the most popular reason we all enjoy a cup of coffee is because of its natural stimulating component, caffeine. How many of us do not even feel like we are fully awake until we’ve had our morning cup of coffee? Caffeinated coffee provides the central nervous system with a boost to make you feel alert, energized, more focused and in turn helps you become more productive throughout the day. It’s important to note, however, that everyone has varying tolerance levels when it comes to caffeine intake. The general suggested limit is up to 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is roughly four cups of brewed coffee a day. No one wants to get to the point where they feel jittery, so know what works for you and as always, moderation is key.
Learn New Material Faster
Another positive byproduct of caffeine is its potential to improve short-term memory and problem solving. Employees can therefore more easily absorb and retain new information, learning things faster as their focus and concentration are tuned up. A PLOS ONE study found that consuming at least 200 milligrams of caffeine (about 2 cups), helps the brain analyze information better. A second study at Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that coffee can positively affect memory, in which coffee was shown to decrease forgetfulness for over 24 hours. It also showed that people who supplemented studying with caffeine consumption, remembered more information. That’s a win-win.
The act of drinking coffee or getting coffee with other people, as well as sitting in coffee shops themselves can be such an outlet for individual and/or team creativity. Since coffee makes us more alert by stimulating the brain, it allows for us to mentally explore deeper and find new creative solutions. It also creates organic casual social interactions that remove professional barriers, allowing for natural and free conversations to develop. These conversations can be beneficial to the dissemination of new ideas, discovering new approaches to problem solving, and collaborating as a team on projects. Coffee shops themselves offer an environment rich with ambient background noise, which has also been linked to enhanced creativity.
Now that you have a list of the positive health benefits of coffee, rest assured that you never have to feel guilty again about your love for java. Keep in mind, that while coffee may be healthy (most studies are based on black coffee), that’s not necessarily true when high amounts of sugar and fat are added to the mix to create coffee-based beverages. Now that that’s settled, go inhale, taste, and relish your cup of coffee.
Danielle is a contributing content writer for Fitspot. She is a former journalist and professional opera singer. Danielle is passionate about whole body wellness and understands the critical role optimal health plays in having the immunity, energy and stamina to excel on stage and off! Running, hiking and yoga are her favorite activities. Danielle resides in New York City and is always on the hunt for the best new coffee spot.