The Acceptable Addiction: Coffee


Castle making coffee

Reading an article on coffee early this morning by Oliver Burkeman about the link between coffee and creativity I felt like everything in my life was a lie - as a non-coffee addict. I'm one of those lucky people who will drink a cup of coffee and fall asleep straight away, oh golly.

It used to work well enough a few years ago when I started drinking coffee when I was on my internship in 2010, or I thought the act of buying coffee in itself allowed me to stay awake for the rest of the day even if I let it go stone cold on my desk. There was some sort of placebo effect going on to it. But early last year no matter how much coffee I consumed or the fact that I had to walk upstairs to buy it and then return to my desk - none of it had any impact. Not even Red Bull or V worked on me.

But I digress. The article basically reinforces almost everything Ruben ever told me about coffee apart from the decaf part and his need to be in coffee shops, so I can only really conclude that maybe I've just been doing it wrong. But hey, I guess not everything is for everyone.

So a few dot points:

  • Coffee doesn't give you energy, it just delays the point where you feel tired, so your mind-state becomes one of narrow focus and 'hyper-vigilance'.
  • The act of getting coffee relaxes our focus and allows for the 'mind-wandering' that is effective for creative insights and imaginative solutions.
  • Ambient noise, such as the background buzz of a coffee shop, will prompt more creativity than a quiet setting.
  • If people think they are drinking full-caf coffee, they will become sharper at certain tasks even if they're drinking decaf.

As my manager used to say... "If it's not working, you're not drinking enough of it!" Well, I'd like to avoid the coffee-induced heart attack if it's all the same!