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Morning Coffee: The Only Thing Most People Can Agree On These Days
This article has been written by experts and fact-checked by experts, including licensed nutritionists, dietitians or medical professionals. The information in the article is based on scientific studies and research.
It is designed to be honest, unbiased and objective, and opinions from both sides of an argument are presented wherever there is disagreement.
The scientific references in this article (marked by 1, 2, 3, etc.) are clickable links to peer-reviewed research material on the subject being discussed.
“Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep” – Fran Drescher
“I orchestrate my mornings to the tune of coffee” – Harry Mahtar, pundit
“Ah, coffee. The sweet balm by which we shall accomplish today’s tasks.” – Holly Black, author
“Without my morning coffee, I’m just like a dried-up piece of goat.” – Johann Sebastian Bach
No one needs confirmation from “coffee quotes” or “good morning quotes,” or the ubiquitous coffee memes on Instagram and Twitter, to understand the value of that first cup of coffee in the morning. It may be the only thing – from New York to Nebraska, from Los Angeles to Louisiana – that unites us in today’s fractious world.
How Many People Drink Coffee in the Morning?
Regular coffee drinkers probably can’t understand how anyone could wake up until they’ve had their morning coffee, and it’s easy to see why. Statistics from the National Coffee Association (NCA) show that 62% of American adults drink coffee every day, and 90% of those coffee drinkers have their first cup with breakfast
Some have their own coffee grinder, a coffee or espresso machine, or a fancy French press at home. Others prefer to pick up an espresso, latte or iced coffee at Starbucks or their local coffee shop. (We shouldn’t leave out another popular option, instant coffee.)
Morning is obviously not the only time Americans (and countless others around the world) enjoy their coffee. The NCA statistics show that coffee drinkers’ average daily consumption is more than three cups per day; obviously, many rely on it for a quick pick-me up during the day.
But why is morning coffee so special?
Benefits of a Morning Cup of Coffee
One reason that coffee lovers crave that morning cup of joe: coffee smells so darned good. Ground coffee beans contain about 800 different compounds, with scents ranging from spicy and sweet, to floral, fruity and smoky. There’s even one compound, furfurylthiol, which scientists say contributes its own unique “coffee aroma.” For most of us, the combination of scents heightens our anticipation and our appetite, delivering the clear message that it’s coffee time.
The primary benefits of coffee in the morning, though, stem from the fact that caffeine is a powerful stimulant. (It’s actually the most commonly-used psychoactive drug in the world.) For that reason, coffee really does wake you up. And it works in an interesting way.
The body regularly releases molecules known as adenosine, which attach to adenosine receptors in the brain and regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Adenosine tells the body to get tired; more and more of it is released during the day.
However, caffeine molecules look and act very much like adenosine. When you consume caffeine, it attaches to the adenosine receptors – and blocks adenosine from delivering it’s “you are getting sleepy” messages. So in reality, caffeine doesn’t wake you up. It stops you from being tired.
Adenosine plays another important role in the brain: it regulates “feel-good” and “fight or flight” hormones like serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline, and keeps us from getting too amped during the day. But when caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors, there’s nothing to prevent the hormones from running wild – explaining the energy boost we get from a cup of coffee (or any other caffeinated beverage).
Finally, studies have shown that caffeine may enhance important brain functions like alertness, memory performance and information processing. When you combine being “more awake” with extra energy and better cognitive performance, you’ve got the magic that a morning cup of coffee delivers at the start of the day.
Herbal tea and hot chocolate may taste good, but they’re simply not going to kick-start your body and brain like coffee does.
How Do You Take Your Morning Coffee?
When you make your coffee (or have your barista make it for you), you’re most likely to add cream, sugar or both. Surveys show that only 35% of coffee drinkers prefer to drink their brew black, despite the fact that you can’t fully appreciate the taste of the best coffee beans when they’re watered down or sweetened.
Naturally, “cream and sugar” doesn’t mean what it used to. Since the mid-20th century, an enormous number of people have substituted artificial creamers and sweeteners for the more traditional additives, even though most of those creamers and sweeteners aren’t very good for you.
Many coffee drinkers have found a terrific alternative, thanks to the growing interest in keto dieting. Those following a ketogenic eating plan often enjoy a concoction called “bulletproof coffee” (also known as butter coffee) with their breakfast. It contains MCT coconut oil (which encourages fat burning on keto), grass-fed butter or ghee (which add healthy fat that’s important on the diet) – and the latest sugar substitute to hit the market: monk fruit sweetener.
Monk fruit extract is a completely natural, non-nutritive sweetener with no health risks or noticeable side effects. In fact, it contributes some attractive health benefits because it’s rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Monk fruit sweetener contains no calories and no carbs, and it may even help reduce blood sugar levels.
Monk fruit extract is more expensive than other natural and artificial sweeteners, and it has to be used in its pure form which can be difficult to find, even on Amazon. There’s another way to realize its benefits, though.
Super Coffee is a ready-to-drink version of bulletproof coffee that contains monk fruit extract, MCT oil and added protein; it’s available in several flavors, plus espresso and cold brew varieties. Super Coffee is healthy, it tastes delicious, and it’s an outstanding way to enjoy your morning coffee without the calories and energy crashes that “cream and sugar” inadvertently contribute to a delicious cup of morning joe.