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THE TRUTH ABOUT COFFEE

By Clare Jupp, People Development Director

Worldwide 2 billion cups of coffee are drunk every 24 hours. 55 million of those cups are consumed in Britain. Research suggests (honestly) that one third of people would rather run down a busy street naked than give up coffee for a year.

 

Having come across these facts recently, it made me think just how important our coffee culture is at Brightstar. The coffee machine is loved by all and probably one of the most welcomed yet most simple ‘perks of the job’.

 

Surely it must be rare nowadays for businesses not to have a coffee machine: it’s an essential and expected perk. Several studies that I have come across have even shown that drinking coffee is one of the most important parts of the work day, and an impressive amount of people claim they could simply not live without it. According to a survey conducted by Staples, 84% of workers drink coffee every day and feel like their day has not started until they have had their first cup. This sounds like me, although I have my first one en route to work and then the second upon arrival: it’s simply become part of my work routine.

 

However, if you think that having a coffee machine in the office ticks the box fully as a well-received perk, think again. The machine in itself is not always enough. There are several reasons why it is important for workplaces to offer not just coffee, but good coffee.

 

Indeed, whilst research shows that offering free coffee makes people feel cared for and increases the levels of satisfaction in the workplace, research also shows that over 50% of employees who drink coffee at the office are not satisfied with the standard of the provision. At Brightstar we took feedback on board about the quality of the coffee machine and we took the time and effort to research and source a really decent machine that creates all manner of combinations and delights. Everyone has a personal favourite and the team have got to understand that the CEO enjoys ‘a turbo’ (it’s his own personal combo recipe). The coffee machine is the first port of call for most team members on a daily basis; it is located to facilitate the opportunity for a quick catch up and is sorely missed when it’s unwell.

 

Whilst no one would deny that we are certainly in the era of the coffee culture, are we in absolute agreement about the benefits or negatives about coffee?

I’m painting a positive picture so far, but is the coffee culture storming Britain (and Brightstar) bad for our health? We all understand the addiction of caffeine and the negative effects on the body, but I’ve actually found so much positive research about coffee too (that’s wasn’t conducted by Nescafe before you ask).

 

The caffeine affects your brain in several ways and of course has the ability to keep you alert. Coffee seemingly makes us feel better and less sleepy, but how this actually works is a mystery to some. I have found out that caffeine acts on the brain in two main ways: it increases dopamine levels and it blocks adenosine receptors. Dopamine is commonly referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter because it is responsible for feeling pleasure and other positive feelings. On the other hand, adenosine receptors are responsible for making us feel tired and sleepy. Caffeine molecules have a similar structure as adenosine and when it locks these receptors, it “tricks” them into thinking that we’ve had enough sleep.

 

The lesser-known benefits of coffee include increased memory and recollection: a study conducted by a group of researchers from John Hopkins University showed that caffeine enhances memory consolidation for up to 24 hours after consumption. This means that if you drink coffee right after learning something, you will remember it more clearly the next day. Another study by Norwegian scientists concluded that drinking coffee can help ease pain associated with desk work. In fact, the subjects who drank coffee before performing office tasks registered significantly lower pain levels in the neck, back, wrists and arms.

 

If you’re not convinced by the research and the physical and mental benefits that I have mentioned, are you convinced by the research on the social benefits of drinking coffee? Furthermore, a Danish researcher conducted a study on how coffee breaks help workers cope with workplace stress. The study concluded that the ability to gather in front of a coffee machine helped overworked employees form ‘coping communities’, which greatly helped them cope with stress. Another study conducted in Hong Kong found that drinking caffeinated coffee enhanced co-operative behaviour. Moreover, people who drank coffee expressed of negative feelings more openly, which led to seeking support from other people and therefore bonding.

 

In conclusion, whether or not you’re convinced by the alleged positive effects of drinking coffee, we cannot deny that coffee is a relatively inexpensive but hugely appreciated staff perk and is very much part of modern office design and business culture in the current era…