Depends what you need the caffeine to do for you.
The Case for Drinking Coffee Quickly
If you need a big, short term energy and productivity boost and aren’t worried about staying energized for a longer period—by all means, slam that coffee down.
Unlike a lot of other “stimulating substances,” you don’t have to sit around and wait a long time for caffeine to start working.
When you take a sip of coffee (or any caffeinated beverage), the effects of the caffeine start kicking in—improving focus, increasing your energy, decreasing sleepiness, and helping your general productivity quickly.
If this is all you need—if you need to “ace” a meeting and you can then pretty much go home and call it a day—there’s nothing wrong with downing a coffee as fast as you can safely drink it.
Plus, you obviously get the best flavor and temperature when you drink your coffee sooner rather than later. No one likes coming back to a half inch of room temperature coffee from a cup they made an hour ago.
The Case for Sipping Coffee Slowly
If you drink coffee over a longer time period, the caffeine will be released into your system more slowly. It’ll also make it less likely that you’ll feel an undesirable caffeine “crash.”
Drinking a cup of coffee slowly lets your body take its time processing the caffeine. You’ll feel your energy level slowly ramping up—gently.
Meanwhile, your body will be slowly clearing it out of your system.
Naturally, this results in less of an initial jolt, but it also reduces any potential crash later on.
Now, I know we don’t all have the luxury of sipping our coffee at exactly the speed we desire.
And obviously, this is all a bit easier in a profession where you sit at some sort of desk rather than say, working in the ER. But in many professions, it’s possible to be just a little mindful about pacing our coffee consumption to extend the caffeine’s effects so they don’t run out and leave us tired later on.
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The Case for Moderation
As you’re probably already thinking, there’s the possibility for a happy medium here.
Why drink your coffee faster or slower when you can drink it at a rate that feels “normal” for you?
Well, because caffeine is a tool.
If you’re not using it that way, you’re missing out on one of the central benefits of drinking coffee.
Yes, in a perfect, medium-paced world, it’s ideal to drink your coffee at a standard clip. But how often are we pressed for time—or staring right into the face of a long workday that we need to stay energized and productive for?
The good news is that no matter how quickly or slowly you drink coffee, it’s still coffee.
But if you have specific needs for how your caffeine should affect you to help you out the most on a given day, well… now you know what you can do to make it work for you.
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