When Is the Best Time of Day to Drink Coffee in Order to Boost Productivity?

Coffee lovers will tell you that every time of day is the best time to drink coffee; however experts say that there is an ideal time to sip a cup of joe in order to really reap the benefits of that caffeine boost. "If you are someone who has average tolerance to caffeine, then after having coffee, whether it's in the morning or afternoon, you should feel more alert and focused for the next one to six hours," said Tamar Samuels, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Culina Health. "You can be strategic about when you have your caffeine depending on when you need to feel most alert throughout the day."

woman working on laptop with coffee cup Credit: Maryna Andriichenko / Getty Images

While some studies have shown that morning is generally the best time to drink a cup of coffee, experts say that you should grab a cup of joe 30 minutes before you need to complete an important task, such as taking an exam, giving a presentation, or sitting in on an important meeting. "As a rule of thumb, the closer to consumption, the more alert and focused you will feel," Samuels said. "People who are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine should limit their consumption to the mornings to prevent sleep disturbances, anxiety, rapid heart rate and other symptoms of having too much caffeine."

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However, you should test out drinking coffee at different times throughout the day to determine what works best for your productivity and workflow. Consider whether or not coffee has a negative effect on you when consumed later in the day, such as after dinner and before bed.

Scientists also say that biologically, our cortisol hormone levels peak between 8 to 9 a.m., noon to 1 p.m., and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Therefore, coffee should be consumed between these windows—such as between 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. "I would say that mid-morning or early afternoon is probably the best time to drink coffee," certified dietitian-nutritionist Lisa Lisiewski told CNBC. "That's when your cortisol levels are at their lowest and you actually benefit from the stimulant itself." Drinking a caffeinated beverage, such as coffee, at a time when your cortisol levels are at their highest may not actually have much of an effect after all.

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