What’s the Best Time to Drink Coffee?

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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If you're anything like me, your day can't (and won't) start without a solid cup of joe. But is the first thing in the morning the best time to drink coffee?

If you’re anything like me, your day can’t (and won’t) start without a solid cup of joe. But is the first thing in the morning the best time to drink coffee?

So many myths abound on this age-old debate. I’m sure this has left many java lovers confused about when they should be slamming down on their first cup.

Today, I’ll break it down for you. I’ll spill the beans (pun intended) on the best time to get that caffeine fix. Let’s do this!

How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body?

Coffee affects the body in several surprising ways. That’s why we love it so much!

When you first drink your morning mug of coffee, caffeine causes a lightning-fast spike in your blood pressure. A spike, I might add, that speeds up your heart rate and heightens energy levels, making it the perfect pre-workout aid.

Shortly, all these chemical changes elicit a sharp stimulation in your brain, what we call the “caffeine buzz.” But this isn’t the end of the story, oh no!

Research shows that caffeine also affects neurotransmitter receptors, specifically adenosine. This is the hormone that makes you drowsy and helps you fall asleep. On consuming coffee, caffeine swoops in and blocks these adenosine receptors. The lower adenosine levels disrupt the brain’s sleepy signals, making you more awake and alert.

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At the same time, caffeine gives dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine a little nudge. These elevated feel-good brain neurotransmitters improve your mood. You know the feeling – the one that makes you ace anything that comes your way!

Next, as caffeine is a mild diuretic, it affects how much and when you pee. The more coffee you drink, the more you pee!

Caffeine does this by accelerating the release of the hormone adrenaline. In turn, adrenaline prompts the kidneys to dilute their stores of water. Your body responds by excreting extra water through urine. In extreme cases, this can lead to dehydration.

While we’re on the subject, did you know that coffee also gets your bowels moving? Anyone who drinks coffee on the regular knows this.

Just how does it do so? Well, coffee contains acids that increase levels of the hormone gastrin. This hormone is responsible for your stomach’s involuntary spasms that move the bowels.

Incidentally, you’ll experience these stimulating effects with ordinary and decaf coffee. I guess that’s why so many people vouch for coffee’s health benefits!

Coffee and Circadian Rhythms

Well, the answer to whether coffee affects circadian rhythms is, yes. For starters, despite the many health benefits, there may be better times to drink coffee than first thing in the morning.

This is why: As you rouse from sleep, your body produces cortisol, part of what we call stress hormones. These cortisol levels peak within the first hour of waking up. And this increase gives you a natural energy boost, focusing your attention. If you’ve watched the movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, you’ll know just what I mean!

Now, here’s where things get interesting. Research shows that early morning coffee consumption negatively impacts cortisol production. In turn, this affects your body’s sleep patterns and circadian rhythm.

To add to this, how much coffee you drink may have other adverse consequences. Too much coffee or caffeinated energy drinks may cause restlessness, anxiety and poor sleep quality. Again, in this instance, caffeine interferes with the production of cortisol (stress hormones). And unless it’s decaf coffee, it also delays the production of melatonin (sleep hormones).

However, since each person has a unique circadian rhythm, it’s critical to experiment. See what suits your preferences and sleep habits the best, and adapt your coffee routine accordingly.

Coffee and Hormones

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Like other caffeinated beverages, coffee contains bioactive substances. These coffee compounds can impact biological processes, including hormone regulation.

Firstly, caffeine regulates the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, adenosine and cortisol. These hormones govern several bodily functions, including waking up, helping you fall asleep and improving your mood and focus.

Research also shows that caffeine may lower insulin sensitivity in healthy adults. In this instance, your cells won’t react to the hormone as much, improving your ability to regulate blood sugar, which may lead to weight loss.

As we’ve seen before, consuming more coffee than normal also affects sleep quality. The caffeine in coffee influences how and when your body produces the sleep hormone melatonin, disrupting your sleep schedule.

As a result, it’s crucial for coffee drinkers to limit their caffeine intake a few hours before bed. That or a decaf coffee should do the trick!

Should You Drink Coffee Right After Waking?

Now, should you consume that espresso in the morning? Is it really the best time to drink coffee? The association between caffeine levels and your circadian rhythm is rather complicated, so let me explain.

As I’ve said before, drinking your first cup of coffee as soon as you wake up interferes with the production of cortisol. Eventually, this increases your caffeine tolerance; you’ll need more and more coffee to get that buzz.

In short, research shows that it’s best to wait an hour after waking up – ideally between 9 and 11 a.m. – to indulge in that first cup of coffee. Doing so gives your body a chance to naturally do its thing with cortisol.

Besides, that first sip of joe will be even more satisfying when the time’s just right!

So, What’s the Best Time to Drink Coffee?

Ah, the age-old question that most people grapple with: When’s the ideal time to drink coffee? In my book, anytime is coffee time!

But for optimal health, I’d like to outline what health professionals recommend on the best time to drink coffee. I’ll also give you the reasons why.

To cut a long story short, here’s when you can safely go for that cuppa:

An Hour After Waking Up

A Cup of Coffee Sitting on a Bed

When is the best time to drink that morning coffee?

To understand this, we need to understand the sleep-wake cycle. Your circadian rhythm or sleep cycle is what determines when you wake up. As mentioned earlier, this is when your body produces the stress hormone cortisol, which improves alertness and gets you going.

This production peaks about an hour after you get up. In fact, most people experience a peak in cortisol levels between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. That’s why health professionals recommend taking your morning mug a few hours after waking up.

If you do consume coffee or any caffeinated beverage before this time, your body will still metabolize the caffeine intake. The downside is, you’ll develop a higher caffeine tolerance. This means you’ll need more and more caffeine with your morning coffee to achieve the same stimulating effects.

Early Afternoon

Now, let’s move on to later in the day. What’s the best time to drink coffee during the day? Before lunch? After lunch? Again, it all comes down to science.

Cortisol levels peak in the morning, around lunchtime (12-2 p.m.) and early evening (5.30-6.30 p.m.). Once more, the energy benefits of caffeine intake during these times will be little to none.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have that cup of joe. It just means you’ll increase your ability to tolerate coffee (caffeine) without enjoying any benefits. Alternatively, you could opt for maca coffee, which has no caffeine.

But if you must have caffeinated coffee, here’s my recommendation: Take your coffee break between 2-5 p.m. during the day. This way, you’ll get that jolt of caffeine and boost your energy levels while reaping maximum benefits.

That after-lunch or pre-dinner coffee doesn’t sound so bad after all!

Early Evening

Alcoholic Coffee Drinks Espresso Martini

“Coffee in the evening? Won’t coffee consumption this late interfere with my body clock and affect my ability to fall asleep?” I can literally hear you screaming this question!

Again, it all comes down to science and how much coffee you can tolerate as an individual.

Some people have “jitters” and fail to fall asleep drinking an espresso six hours before bedtime! Many, especially in Mediterranean cultures, where an after-dinner coffee is common, have no problem falling asleep an hour later.

So, what are the health recommendations here? When’s the best time to drink coffee in the evening and at night?

The deal is, your body experiences another cortisol peak between 5.30-6.30 p.m. Therefore, a coffee or any drink with a sizable caffeine content anywhere between 6.30-7.30 p.m. won’t negatively impact your sleep. It’ll also help you maintain your energy levels.

However, coffee consumption, as early as six hours before bedtime, will reduce your total sleep time by as much as one hour. The caffeine in your drink delays the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. In addition, caffeine makes it hard to achieve REM, the most restful stage of sleep.

It’s important to consider these facts before reaching for that after-dinner espresso, however tempting it may seem.

When to Avoid Drinking Coffee

While coffee is a magical brew that can work wonders for your mood and productivity, sometimes it’s best to give it a pass. In short, just like with pets, coffee is not for everyone and may have adverse effects if consumed.

So, who would be best served by opting out of drinking this aromatic and flavorful brew? Here are some scenarios when you should probably avoid coffee:

On An Empty Stomach

You ever wondered why doctors aren’t too crazy about you drinking coffee first thing in the morning? Well, it’s not all about cortisol production; it’s also about drinking coffee on an empty stomach!

Drinking coffee before you eat can cause a host of health problems, despite its weight loss credentials. Chief among these are heart palpitations, acid reflux, nausea and gastric distress.

To lessen these effects, doctors advise a small meal or snack before you consume coffee.

You’re Prone to Anxiety

Coffee has a high caffeine content. On drinking it, some people may experience heightened levels of anxiety. This can easily worsen into restlessness and irritability, which over time affects your immune system.

If you are prone to anxiety, reduce your coffee intake, opt for fermented coffee or stick to decaf coffee.

You’re Pregnant or Nursing

Schwangerschaft Kaffee und Koffein

Research also shows that caffeine intake during pregnancy or lactation may harm the fetus or infant.

Preemie births and, worse, miscarriages can result from an elevated caffeine intake. Additionally, caffeinated beverages may cause the baby’s heart rate to rise.

Overall, health professionals advise very little or no caffeine during this time. Better still, why not treat yourself to a lower-caffeine chai latte? It’s much safer!

You’re Dealing with Certain Chronic Health Issues 

Scientific studies have shown that caffeine intake leads to elevated levels of blood pressure, heart rate and stress. For people with cardiac issues, that’s not a good thing.

Furthermore, coffee can make it harder to fall and stay asleep, lowering sleep quality and worsening insomnia. To add to this, caffeine consumption can make gastrointestinal symptoms worse. Coffee’s acid (and caffeine itself) irritates the stomach lining. This leads to inflammation, which can aggravate stomach ulcers, IBS and Crohn’s disease.

The bottom line is: If you suffer from any of these chronic conditions, reduce or stay away from coffee altogether.

Final Thoughts on the Best Time to Drink Coffee

Cuban Coffee Recipe

I hope this post on the best time to drink coffee has been informative.

But here’s the bottom line: we’re all different, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to when you should drink that joe. It all boils down to genetics, personal preferences and daily exercise or physical activity levels.

So, whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, embrace the coffee routine that best suits you. To me, drinking coffee is not just about health but more about the ritual and joy of savoring every last aromatic drop!

Did I cover all the points on the best time to drink coffee? I hope I did! I look forward to discussing more about this topic in our comments section below!

Best Time to Drink Coffee FAQ

If you want to get the most out of your morning coffee, take your first cup between 9 and 11 am. By this time, cortisol levels slowly decline, giving you the maximum benefit from caffeine’s effects.

Most experts agree on consuming coffee 1-2 hours after waking up for the best benefits.

It’s better to drink coffee in the morning and limit caffeine intake to 6 hours before bedtime. Consuming coffee at night may affect your sleep schedule.

Waiting 90 minutes after waking up to drink your first cup of coffee is advisable. By then, adenosine levels will have risen slightly, improving your body’s caffeine reception.

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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