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Restore Energy

Does Coffee Really Improve Work Performance? [Experiment + Infographic]

Written by Ieva Sipola
Ieva helps tech startups access big markets and is a passionate advocate of alternative work formats.
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It’s hard to imagine an office without a coffee machine. If you recall the morning atmosphere in a standard pre-pandemic office environment, you’d probably think of several colleagues standing around a coffee machine chatting or heading to a meeting with a coffee mug in their hand.

For most, this is not their first coffee of the day. The majority of people reach for a cup of the energizing brew soon after they open their eyes in the morning – 65% of all coffee is consumed during breakfast hours.[1]

Coffee is not only a cult drink but also an industry with millions of jobs worldwide related to its production, distribution, and serving. With 64% of Americans drinking at least one cup of joe per day,[2] coffee has become a staple of everyday work life – be it in the office or in a remote work setting.

The Experiment: Coffee Machine + Productivity Tracker

Even the smell of coffee stimulates energetic and productive vibes. But how much of the coffee phenomenon is just our imagination and self-suggestion? And how substantial is the scientific part behind it?

That’s what we set out to find out with an office experiment (conducted before the pandemic and the remote work wave). We used the Draugiem Group as a sample base – an office space with approximately 150 employees of different tech-based companies. As all the people in this office use DeskTime productivity tracking software and almost all of them drink coffee, we decided to explore how coffee impacts their performance.


We connected the office coffee machine to a telemetry device[3] that counted the number of coffees made and at which times during the day. Later we cross-referenced the peak coffee consumption times with the spikes in work performance from the DeskTime software. The experiment lasted for a week.

The Results: Wake up and Smell the Coffee!

In one day, an average of 215 coffees are consumed within the Draugiem Group office. With just over 100 employees, that averages out to about two coffees per employee. But what did we learn when cross-referencing coffee drinking stats with data from productivity tracking software?

First of all, we confirmed that coffee does increase the overall work performance of office workers. Productivity levels soared for most of the people right after drinking coffee, peak consumption times being around 9am, and then again roughly at 12:30am.

However, the productivity upsurge didn’t last long.

Within 2.5 hours after coffee consumption, employee work performance levels went as low as they possibly could – even lower than before workers set out to make their coffees. This means that coffee could provide only a temporary productivity boost.

Does Science Agree?

Scientists have long-since touted the benefits of coffee – the energy boost thanks to caffeine, the antioxidants that stave off the damage caused by free radicals. However, coffee has also been known to have negative effects – dehydration, insomnia, and addiction, to name a few.

The results of our experiment are in line with what scientists say about coffee’s impact on productivity. Caffeine has been proven to provide a short-term increase in cognitive performance after being ingested. 200mg of coffee has been found to help identify words and phrases faster.[4]


However, this effect wears off in time. Our findings support that, in fact, the post-caffeine slump is inevitable and a tangible thing. And rather than returning to your beginning position of productivity, you dip far below your default caffeine-less self.

Coffee can be seen as a temporary solution for reducing the feeling of tiredness and enhancing brain performance.[5] However, similar to nicotine addiction, caffeine addicts are rarely brought back to their average comfort & energy levels after the initial boost dies down. Instead, their energy – and productivity – levels keep falling until the next cup of coffee saves the day.

How Coffee Impacts Your Productivity [Infographic]

This infographic will help you understand how coffee works and how it impacts your productivity.

Does Coffee Really Improve Work Performance? [Experiment + Infographic]

    How to Consume Caffine Smartly and Improve Work Performance

    We credit caffeine to start our day, often citing it as a driving force behind our ability to work. No wonder coffee has become the most pervasive drug throughout America, with 25% of coffee drinkers identifying as addicted to coffee.[6]

    That said, there’s no harm in drinking coffee if you do it smartly and with moderation. Follow these tips to benefit from your relationship with caffeine:

    1. Study your own productivity routine and choose to drink coffee at times when you feel you need it most.

    Record the times when you drink coffee and note the effects that it has on you. If you feel more alert and productive, how long does this effect last? If a couple of hours later you feel lower than ever, does the next cup of coffee bring instant recovery?

    Also, choose to drink coffee between 10 and 11:30 AM and between 2 and 5 PM, when your cortisol levels dip naturally. Your body will most appreciate a caffeine boost at these times.


    To improve your memory, drink a cup of coffee right after a learning event (not before).

    2. Substitute coffee drinking with a walk or exercise.

    There are many other ways to boost your productivity apart from drinking coffee. For example, a study of 10% most productive employees found that 52 minutes of focused work and 17 minutes of breaking is one of the most productive workday patterns.[7] There are also many office exercises that help your brain relax and reload while bringing many health benefits to your body.

    3. Switch to beverages that contain smaller amounts of caffeine.

    Tea is a good example and it offer plenty of benefits. You may want to consider green tea, oolong tea, or early grey tea.

    4. Next time you’re in a good mood, take a cup of joe to prolong that feeling.

    It is proven that coffee stimulates the release of dopamine that produces euphoria and pleasant feelings.

    Whatever your coffee-drinking habits, be careful not to find yourself inside a daily vicious circle pumped by caffeine!

    More About Coffee And Productivity

    Featured photo credit: BRUNO EMMANUELLE via unsplash.com


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