How to Drink Coffee for the Maximum Impact

By Michael Martin  |  Jan 28, 2016
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Coffee for breakfast. Coffee for lunch. Coffee for snacks. Coffee for dinner. Coffee for dessert.

Although there are days we want to drink coffee morning, noon, and night, there are scientifically proven ways to drink coffee to get the maximum impact. Research has proven when, how much and even where you should be . Here’s how to get the most out of every cup:

Don’t drink coffee first thing in the morning.

You read that right. Stumbling to the kitchen and immediately reaching for a cup of ambition is not the best way to charge up. Why? Our levels of the hormone cortisol are highest right after we wake. The body releases cortisol in response to stress to get you moving. Caffeine inhibits cortisol. So you’re just exchanging caffeine for what your body’s doing naturally, your tolerance to caffeine increases and you have to keep chasing the dragon to get a sufficient fix.

Drink it these times.

According to a 2009 study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the best times to drink coffee are between 10am and noon and 2pm and 5pm. That’s when your natural cortisol levels are lower.

At this temperature. 

For trivia purposes, the ideal temperature of a cup of coffee is between 180 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Coffee Association. More practically: They advise never letting it sit on a burner for more than 15 minutes, unless you like it burnt.

Have this much of it.

There were the days when coffee was considered almost as much of a vice as alcohol, suspected of doing everything from boosting blood pressure to causing the Big C. Now we know the opposite is true — consumption of coffee has been linked to a lower risk of several cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, coronary artery disease and Type 2 diabetes. It protects the liver against the effects of drinking. It helps you burn fat when downed right before a workout. The magic number varies; some studies looked at people who drank 2-3 cups regularly, some as many as 6. The bottom line: Drink as much as you want! According to a 2015 study published by the National Institutes of Health, it could even help extend your life by up to 15%. (That’s what they saw in nonsmokers who drank 3.1 to 5 cups a day; those who drank 1.1 to 3 cups daily had an 8% lower mortality risk.)

Know when to say when.

Unless you want to spend that elongated lifespan wired, don’t drink coffee too close to bedtime. Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine recommends putting down the mug 4 to 6 hours before you turn in.

Get the most bang for your buck.

According to Caffeine Informer, the chain with the highest-caf coffee is Starbucks: A 16-oz Grande has 330 mg of caffeine, compared with 302 mg in a similar size at Dunkin’ Donuts and 280 at Tim Horton’s. The chain to skip if you want a serious jolt: McDonalds, which has only 145 mg in a Medium.

How to drink it.

The most efficient way, of course, is as espresso (75 mg of caffeine per shot) or brewed straight. But if you need a little something-something else, go for an Americano or a Flat White, which have 50% more caffeine than a latte, cappuccino or a mocha.

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