Is there an optimal time to drink coffee?

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We, at Commonwealth Joe (CWJ), are no stranger to our morning cup of (cold) brew, and a majority of the U.S. population can say the same. In fact, 85% of Americans drink caffeine daily, with coffee being the largest contributor. We drink coffee for many reasons - for some, it’s the need for a well-crafted cappuccino on your way to work or the feeling of jet fuel running through your veins before a late night at the office. Regardless of your personal reasons for drinking coffee, a common outcome desired from a morning cup of joe is productivity and alertness. Surprisingly though, research studies have concluded that the optimal time to drink coffee is actually not when most people are consuming it. Using aggregate data collected from CWJ’s Kegerator Vending Machines (KVM), we sought to uncover whether our Nitro Cold Brew consumers (our office included) share the same morning consumption habits as the rest of America, and if so, does this mean we’ve been drinking coffee wrong all along?

Earlier this year, Commonwealth Joe launched a new product - the Kegerator Vending Machine. The tech, created by Smart Beverage Technologies, has catapulted CWJ into the Beverage Tech industry classification. Reason being, the KVM is a self-serve, self-pour vending kiosk serving craft beverages, like CWJ Nitro Cold Brew coffee, on tap. By transferring the cost of the beverage to the consumer, more spaces, like convention centers or residential apartment complexes, have the option of offering the amenity to their guests and residents at little or no cost to the business. More than the accessibility to the craft beverages that the KVMs provide, the units’ smart vending capabilities allow Commonwealth Joe to monitor inventory and gas levels, internal and external fridge temperature, and sales transactions, all in real-time. For the purpose of this blog post, we uncovered what our KVM sales data told us about peak consumption times.

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Before discussing our findings, we wanted to clarify a few assumptions we made when analyzing the data. For one, the time of the year we observed was primarily during fall and winter, which could mean that our findings would have been different if the study was done during the spring and summer months. Second, we assume that a consumer's cup of Nitro Cold Brew is his or her first cup of coffee for the day. Lastly, we assume that the consumer is only drinking Nitro Cold Brew and not an alternative coffee drink, such as hot coffee.

For several months, we monitored over 15,000 sales transactions across various KVM units placed primarily in the DC Metro Area. Our analysis revealed that, on average, peak consumption of Nitro Cold Brew happened during the 9AM hour, with a dramatic drop in consumption during the 10AM hour. To take it further, we looked at average peak consumption time each weekday and found that on Monday, Thursday, and Friday, peak consumption time was during the 9AM hour, while on Tuesday and Wednesday, peak consumption was during the 8AM hour. Across all weekdays, consumptions levels remained constant, leading us to believe that a cup of Nitro Cold Brew coffee is part of the morning routine for many of our end users.

In line with the findings of our study, most people who drink coffee have their first cup at 8:30 AM. However, research has shown that this may actually not be the best time to drink caffeine, and that to maximize the effectiveness of caffeine, it should be consumed between the hours of 10AM - Noon or 2PM - 5PM. This is because our body naturally produces cortisol, the ‘alert hormone’ that supports our flight or fight response, three times a day, with the first peak being as soon as you wake up. In fact, it is reported that consuming caffeine during peak cortisol production levels can increase your tolerance to caffeine over time, leading your body to produce less cortisol and relying on the caffeine to boost your blood glucose levels. In addition, once cortisol and caffeine levels fall, consuming coffee early in the morning can leave you more tired later on.

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Though there are several studies that show that drinking coffee shortly after waking up is not the optimal time to consume caffeine, many would argue that they drink their morning coffee for reasons other than peak alertness. For many, including us, coffee is a daily ritual - it is an activity that signifies the start of your day, and we believe that the time at which you consume coffee should be whenever fits your lifestyle and routine best. Whether you decide to shift your early AM cup to a mid-morning pick me up or disregard these studies completely, we can at least all agree that a cup of Nitro at some point in the day is a necessity.

For more information on the type of consumption data that can be monitored with a Commonwealth Joe KVM, reach out to marketing@commonwealthjoe.com or visit KegVending.com.

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