Recurring Decimals…..

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Java alertness a myth ?

with 5 comments

So say British researchers:

That morning latte or espresso may not be the pick-me-up people think it is, a study has revealed. University of Bristol researchers say the caffeine eases withdrawal symptoms which build up overnight, but does not make people more alert than normal.

The work, presented to the British Nutrition Foundation conference, showed only people who have avoided coffee for a while will get a buzz from caffeine.

Professor Peter Rogers, a biological psychologist who led the research, told the BBC: "We do feel a boost from caffeine in the morning, but that’s probably due to a reversal of the withdrawal symptoms.

"That alertness you feel is you getting back to normal, rather than to an above normal level.

"That morning boost is what people think is useful about caffeine, but if that doesn’t happen, maybe it’s not that useful after all."


This is something I have suspected for a while, even though I am one those who needs a cup every weekday morning. However, I enjoy the morning brew more for the flavor of recently roasted, freshly ground, black drip/french press coffee (the best way to consume the stuff). Also it counterbalances nicely the breakfast milk and cereal . 

Of course, the people who sell the stuff aren’t buying into this research:

Zoe Wheeldon, of the British Coffee Association, said the research was interesting.

But she added: "There are two sides to the debate and a wealth of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption of four to five cups per day is perfectly safe for the general population and does have a beneficial effect on alertness and performance even in regular coffee drinkers."

Ok, I like coffee – but four to five cups is "moderate" !?

Other coffee-related posts here and here.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 6, 2007 at 11:20 am

Posted in Food, Trivia

5 Responses

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  1. Well, *may be* not the morning latte.. but what about coffee during the day? In any case, if it brings people back to “normal” faster then it is doing the job. Right?

    But yes.. 4-5 cups is supposed to be “moderate”!!

    Vivek Kumar

    March 6, 2007 at 1:13 pm

  2. Heck Ya! 4/5 is moderate and average for me …
    There was a recent study out that suggested coffee reduced liver damaged caused by alcohol.
    I am using that as my mantra to drink both liberally 🙂


    March 6, 2007 at 4:29 pm

  3. @Sakshi: It could be your average.. in fact, the average could be 40/50 also. But that does not imply moderate. In fact, Zoe Wheeldon’s comment itself is ambiguous because she should have defined “moderate” in terms of quantity of caffeine, not “cups of coffee”. Anyway, lets not get into arguments about cup sizes (pun not intended) and brew strengths 🙂

    Vivek Kumar

    March 6, 2007 at 5:33 pm

  4. @Vivek: I got the feeling that the research was more attention grabbing than anything else (it grabbed my attention!). If someone feels perked up from consuming coffee – that’s really all you need. Some people say that a cold shower in the morning makes them wake-up – I am sure I can design an experiment proving that cold water on skin has no effect on the metabolic rate 🙂
    And caffeine is certainly known to be a stimulant.

    @Sakshi: It probably has something to do with being a grad student – in my final couple of years, I was drinking 5-6 espresso shots a day; now that would keep me awake for the week. Of course, it helped that the lab I was collaborating with had a fine Italian hand-made espresso machine on the spot !

    I agree with Vivek that moderate is a vague term here – the brew strength needs to be defined.


    March 6, 2007 at 9:11 pm

  5. […] coffee related posts here, here and […]

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