The Best Time to Drink Coffee – Timing Matters, People!

The Best Time to Drink Coffee – Timing Matters, People!

Did you know that caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world? Indeed, drinking coffee in the morning is a beloved ritual for many of us to kick-start our day. But is the early morning truly the best time to drink coffee? After all, coffee boosts our cortisol levels, which interacts with the natural cycle of this stress hormone. Understanding the biological mechanisms behind drinking this energizing brew and the best time to have coffee might be worth your while. If you do it right, coffee can be a great way to biohack your biorhythm. In this article, CARE spills the beans on the science around coffee drinking and will enlighten you about the best time to have your cuppa!

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE
Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach

Published in General Health
7 min read · Mar 06, 2024

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What Is the Best Time to Drink Coffee?

We’ll give it to you straight: The best time of the day to drink coffee is within the first two hours after you wake up, but you should at least wait 30–60 minutes before you have your first cup of coffee.

But why can’t you have your first cup of Joe directly after waking up?

Coffee and its primary psychoactive ingredient, caffeine, influence your cortisol production. When you drink coffee, the caffeine stimulates your central nervous system, prompting your adrenal glands to release cortisol. While this mechanism enhances your alertness and focus, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm. [1] [2]

Therefore, waiting 30–60 minutes for your first cup of coffee after waking up is recommended. This aligns with your natural cortisol levels that rise and fall during the day. A mid-to-late morning coffee aligns with the natural drop of your cortisol levels, so having your cup of coffee then makes sense. [3]

Regarding drinking coffee later in the day, your body releases a natural cortisol boost again around 12 pm — 1 pm. Therefore, you should drink coffee later in the afternoon between 1 pm and 5 pm. [3]

But how is our natural sleep-wake-cycle, the circadian rhythm, connected with coffee? We will explore this matter a little further.

What Impact Does Coffee Have On Your Circadian Rhythm?

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The human body operates on a 24-hour internal clock known as the circadian rhythm. This biological clock regulates various physiological processes in your body, including the sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, and body temperature. One key player in this intricate system is cortisol, often called the “stress hormone.” [3]

Approximately 30-45 minutes after you wake up, your cortisol levels peak since your body releases cortisol in the morning to give you the energy you need to start your day. [3]

Imagine cortisol like your body's built-in alarm clock, signaling it's time to rise and shine. This surge, known as the cortisol awakening response (CAR), is crucial to our daily biorhythm. As the day progresses, your levels of cortisol gradually decrease, reaching their lowest levels in the evening to prepare your body for restful sleep. [4] This is also part of the reason you shouldn’t drink coffee in the evening since it will disrupt and delay this natural cycle.

Considering the natural rise in cortisol levels upon waking, science suggests that the best time to enjoy your first cup of coffee is during the first two hours but no sooner than 30–45 minutes after waking. This morning cup aligns with the peak of your cortisol awakening response, enhancing the synergy between your body's natural alertness and the stimulating effects of caffeine. By synchronizing your coffee intake with this natural cortisol surge, you can optimize your morning routine, and experience heightened wakefulness and performance. [1] [3] [4]

The best time to drink your coffee, latte, or espresso in the morning is during this window since it allows you to seize the benefits of caffeine while minimizing potential disruptions to your circadian rhythm.

Why Should You Delay Drinking Coffee After Waking Up?

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Waiting 30–45 minutes before drinking your morning coffee is the best time to have caffeine since this period allows your body to capitalize on its natural cortisol awakening response. Caffeine consumption that aligns with the natural peak and gradual decline of your cortisol levels enhances the synergy between caffeine and your natural cortisol awakening response (CAR). [2]

The short delay ensures that the stimulating effects of your coffee align with your body's built-in wake-up mechanism, providing a more harmonious and energizing start to your day.

Coffee, Gastric Acid & Blood Pressure

We also want to give you another tip concerning your coffee consumption: drinking coffee on an empty stomach can increase your gastric acid, which might cause you discomfort. Therefore, drinking a glass of water after waking up and before drinking coffee can come in handy for enthusiastic coffee drinkers. [5]

Drinking coffee, particularly in the morning, can also have a temporary impact on your blood pressure due to the presence of caffeine. Caffeine leads to a short-term increase in your blood pressure by stimulating the release of certain hormones, such as adrenaline. This effect is known as the pressor response (an increase in systolic blood pressure (SBP) of at least 30 mmHg above the baseline). [6]

By incorporating some of these strategies into your coffee routine or adjusting it timewise, you can optimize the impact of your coffee, making it a more effective tool for boosting your alertness and performance.

But how much coffee is even safe?

How Much Coffee Can You Safely Drink?

It is a debate that persists for decades: How much caffeine is good for you? The amount of coffee you can safely consume varies from person to person based on individual aspects such as body weight, overall health, and sensitivity to caffeine. If you drink too much coffee, this can lead to jitters and disrupted energy levels.

However, the Food and Drug Administration guidelines suggest that moderate coffee consumption, roughly 4 to 5 cups per day, is generally considered safe for most adults. It's important to note that a “cup” typically contains around 8 ounces, and the caffeine content can vary depending on the type of coffee, brewing method, and your individual metallization of caffeine. [7]

Excessive caffeine intake, typically exceeding 400 milligrams per day, may lead to side effects such as insomnia, jitteriness, increased heart rate, and digestive issues. Pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions like high blood sugar or diabetes may also need to limit their caffeine intake further and consult with a nutritionist or dietitian. [7]

What Alternatives Are There to Get Caffeinated?

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Are you searching for alternatives to coffee? Some people experience a racing heart or restlessness after drinking coffee and would rather switch to an alternative. Spice up your sipping experience and explore the caffeinated wonders beyond the familiar coffee cup.

CARE has got you covered! Dive into a world beyond your usual cup of coffee and discover caffeinated alternatives to jazz up your morning routine!

Black & Green Tea – L-Theanin for the Win

For a slightly milder kick, black or green tea is a delightful option, offering a nuanced flavor profile compared to the boldness of coffee. Furthermore, some teas, like black and green tea, contain L-theanine. This amino acid eliminates the vasoconstrictive effect (narrowing of blood vessels) and behavioral effects of caffeine (racing heart, jitteriness, etc.). [8]

Unlike the rapid energy surge often associated with coffee, L-theanine works in tandem with caffeine to promote a more sustained and focused sense of alertness. This synergy helps avoid the jitteriness or sudden crashes that some people experience with coffee, providing a smoother and more enjoyable energy boost.

Matcha – Magical Green Tea Powder

Matcha, a finely ground powder of specially shade-grown green tea leaves, has gained popularity as a unique alternative to coffee. Rich in antioxidants, matcha provides a more sustained energy boost without the rapid spikes and crashes associated with coffee consumption. The presence of L-Theanin in matcha promotes calm alertness, balancing the stimulating effects of caffeine and fostering a state of focused relaxation. [9]

Unlike coffee, where the grounds are filtered out, you consume the whole tea leaf with matcha, maximizing the intake of nutrients and flavor. The chlorophyll content in matcha contributes to its vibrant green color and offers additional health benefits, aiding in detoxification and providing immune system support. [9]

CARE & Preventative Healthcare

Now you know that the best time to drink coffee after waking up is mid-morning, late morning, or early afternoon and at least 30–45 minutes after you wake. Basing your lifestyle choices on science allows you to biohack your health and optimize your well-being.

CARE is proud to be your trusted companion on your health journey. Our in-depth blood analysis lets you gain comprehensive insight into your health status. Biomarkers in your blood tell a tale about your momentary and potential future health. Your health should not be a variable – take it into your own hands and become a CARE member!

List of References

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE

Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach at CARE Zurich

About the author

Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!