Unlike many entrepreneurs, I didn't drink coffee through schooling, nor in young adulthood, and it didn't keep me going during business all nighters and crunch times (adrenaline did that). No, I didn't fall in love with coffee until well into my grown-up life when I began appreciating the bitter, robust flavor. Thankfully, it was just before taking on a 3 am schedule, but the energy boost has always been a perk, not a reason.
Culturally we usually have coffee first thing in the morning, but I realized that it was much more powerful and effective when I had it later in the day--like 11 am. The days went smoother and I focused better. Now science is backing it up, though there are many reasons to hold off on that first cup of java.
Your body doesn't need coffee early
Your body begins pumping cortisol when you wake up in the morning, kind of like a smelling salt to help you rise and shine. The boost happens between 8 am--9 am, followed by other boosts midday and in late afternoon. Drinking coffee first thing in the morning is like adding lighter fluid to an already-growing fire: You quickly burn extra bright and burn out just as fast.
However, drinking a cup between 9:30 am--11:30 am provides an energy bridge between your early cortisol rises. Around 11 am is my sweet spot. It is also important to put the science in context: 8 am was once the perfect time for me to have coffee, but that was when I was waking up at 3:15 am, so 8 am was my midday cup.
Coffee can mask your true entrepreneurial feelings
For a caffeine-sensitive person like myself, coffee can make one feel like everything is coming together: You're being super productive, ideas are coming easily and business is going in the right direction! All the above may or may not be true, but I want to feel that way because of the passion for my business or the rewards of a hard-earned strategy, not because a bean is making me feel brilliant.
As a stimulant, coffee can make us excited about awful ideas, abrasive about our opinions and unable to settle down (or perhaps that's just me!). It can bring out the opposite skills we need to be the best entrepreneur we can be. The potential issue is compounded when we drink it when our bodies are already revving up for the day. Overdoing the coffee first thing in the morning can have us starting the day making bad decisions.
It breaks up your day
The 3 pm drag is real, particularly after a heavy lunch, but late morning is often when we really begin to slow down from the rush. The average work day starts with a 6 am jolt of the alarm, the body shock of shower water, the dash for the train or car, the social stimulation of people or traffic and the productivity burst with the intent of catching up or getting things done early in the day. In other words, you're running a sprint until lunch is on the horizon. No wonder we slow down at lunch and need a nap around 2ish.
The 11 am coffee creates a natural break in the day--the transition from sunrise to sunset. I take it a step further and make it a physical transition by making my coffee by hand with a French press. It takes about five minutes, grinding the beans, pouring in the hot water and pushing down the stopper. For me, it is like a meditation on what I already got done today and what I will get done later. It is a thoughtful pause.
When do you have your best cup of coffee?