Some offices smell like coffee shops. And there is a good reason for that – coffee might just be the key to workplace happiness. But why do we have this caffeine obsession? Well, let’s have a look…
“Good ideas start with brainstorming. Great ideas start with coffee.” – Unknown
The ingredient in coffee that makes us love it so much is, of course, caffeine. A cup of brewed coffee contains about 70-140mg of caffeine, where a cup of instant coffee contains about 30-60mg of caffeine. This depends on the type of coffee and the strength or serving size.
Our caffeine obsession
But why do we love coffee so much? Maybe this can shed some light on the workings of the magical coffee bean:
Coffee wakes us up
Our brains release a chemical called adenosine that causes us to feel sleepy. Caffeine interferes with your brain’s ability to respond to adenosine by blocking the receptors it’s supposed to bind to. Caffeine and adenosine have similar molecular structures which makes this possible. When your brain isn’t taking up the adenosine, you don’t feel sleepy anymore. Coffee can have its first effects just 10 minutes after you had your cup and can last for about 4 hours.
Coffee makes us happy
Caffeine stimulates your brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that makes you experience feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Some people reckon that you don’t get physically addicted to caffeine, but rather that you get behaviourally addicted to the happiness coffee produces. However, regular coffee consumption does cause some biochemical adjustments in your brain and mimics the effect of marijuana and cocaine. It also produces withdrawal symptoms like headaches and irritability when going off it cold-turkey.
Coffee calms us down
The calming effect of coffee might be thanks to the extra dopamine released in your brain. But it might also be that, because you are dependent on coffee, you feel irritable when you don’t have your coffee. Coffee withdrawal causes irritability and anger, so if you’re used to your cup of coffee, don’t skip your cup.
Coffee fights the blues
It might literally be able to help with depression. Two characteristics of depression are the inability to feel pleasure and the lack of motivation. By stimulating the dopamine release and blocking the adenosine from binding to their receptors, caffeine achieves this. However, there is a new hypothesis that depression is caused by inflammation in the brain and that the antioxidants in coffee may alleviate this kind of inflammation. Plus, acute sleep deprivation has also recently been found to be helpful in treating depression. Having a cup of coffee to keep you awake a little longer at night once in a while might not be the worst idea.
Everybody loves coffee!
Well, almost everybody, at least. And we’re not talking about instant coffee. A well-brewed cup of quality ground coffee is a cost-effective way to improve company morale and show your employees that they’re valued. It can help them feel happy, motivated, less stressed, and more productive at the office.
… but, love your body more
Although moderate coffee consumption has some health benefits, consuming too much coffee coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet, and chronically elevated stress levels can do more harm than good. Pay attention to how your body reacts to coffee. If it makes you feel shaky and irritable with increased pain and other physical distress after just a short while, rather give the coffee a pass.