Direct above view of roasted coffee beans, white coffee cup with black coffee, dark brown colored napkin with one white spoon full with blended coffee on dark brown background.

How Coffee Impacts Student Performance

How Coffee Impacts Student Performance

College students have a lot on their plates. From class lectures to exams and all of the notetaking in between, their brains work hard throughout the day. Academic responsibilities can take a toll on energy levels, hindering students’ abilities to focus in class, retain important information and perform well on exams and assignments. However, you can support students and enhance your university with a gourmet coffee bar that will give them a local coffee shop experience.

Coffee can significantly boost academic performance by increasing energy levels, improving focus and enhancing cognitive abilities. This delectable beverage can fuel students and help them achieve their most demanding goals. According to coffee drinking statistics, approximately 92% of college students report drinking coffee on a regular basis.

The Science of Coffee

When a person drinks coffee, caffeine prevents them from feeling tired. This is because it blocks adenosine, a substance the body naturally makes, from triggering fatigue. It also interacts with dopamine, the brain’s mood-regulating neurotransmitter, to stimulate the parts of the nervous system regulated by the hypothalamus and improve cognitive function. When coffee blocks the body’s A1 receptor, it prevents drowsiness. When it blocks the A2A receptor, it increases dopamine levels, which stimulates the brain and enhances a person’s mood.

Coffee’s caffeine effects usually last for four to six hours. The enzyme, Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) helps the body metabolize caffeine, and how well a person’s body produces this enzyme determines how quickly their body digests caffeine. Over time, the A2A receptor desensitizes and reduces the body’s euphoric and mood-enhancing reaction.

The body’s decreased reaction to caffeine is called tolerance. Since the A1 receptor doesn’t desensitize over time like the A2A receptor, coffee’s awakening effect typically remains the same. This is why people will usually experience coffee’s mood-boosting and awakening effect only if they aren’t used to drinking it, but people who regularly drink coffee will only experience its awakening effect.

Caffeine tolerance is insurmountable, which means that a person can continuously increase their coffee intake, but its euphoric effects will eventually plateau and stop no matter how much extra coffee they drink. However, a person can fade their tolerance and maximize caffeine’s benefits by weaning themselves off of it for a while before drinking it again.

Coffee Can Give You More Energy

Since coffee blocks the body’s substance that triggers drowsiness, it makes people feel more energetic. It improves mental alertness and increases reaction time. Coffee causes the brain’s neurons to fire more rapidly than usual, which makes the brain operate faster. Since coffee alters the mind, it’s technically a type of drug. However, it’s much safer than actual drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall. Since coffee increases energy, it’s incredibly helpful for students pulling late-night study sessions or taking early morning classes.

Coffee Can Help You Focus

Coffee Can Help You Focus

Coffee can increase focus, but how well it increases an individual’s focus depends on their unique physiology. A person can effectively focus when their dopamine levels remain within a specific margin, and caffeine can increase dopamine signals in the brain. Most people have adequate dopamine levels already, which means that coffee can push their dopamine levels too high and hinder concentration. Other people have low dopamine levels and concentrate better with caffeine. This is often true for people who have ADHD.

Caffeine dependence can also affect how well coffee increases focus. When people gradually become dependent on coffee, it can push their normal dopamine levels lower when they’re not drinking coffee. When they do drink coffee, their dopamine levels return to their normal levels, creating the impression that the coffee improves their focus.

When it comes to caffeine and studying, coffee may help students focus and study more efficiently. Since it makes people more alert and can increase dopamine levels, it’s a great beverage to have while reading lengthy textbooks or reviewing lecture notes.

Coffee Can Improve Your Short-Term Memory

Coffee can boost memory. Studies have shown that individuals remember more information after drinking coffee. However, studies on this topic have had mixed results. Some researchers claim that coffee has no effect on memory while others claim that it significantly affects short-term and long-term memory.

Brain entropy is the number of neural states the brain is able to access. Greater entropy indicates a higher information processing capacity while low entropy indicates repetitive and orderly brain function, the type of function that occurs while we sleep. Caffeine in coffee can increase resting brain entropy, which improves the brain’s ability to process information.

Johns Hopkins University researchers conducted a study on caffeine and its effect on memory. During this study, they evaluated individuals who did not regularly use caffeinated substances. They gave some participants a placebo, but they gave other participants a 200-milligram caffeine tablet five minutes after the individuals viewed several images. The following day, the participants viewed the images again, but some images were new and some were similar but slightly different to the previous day’s images.

Out of the participant group, more individuals who took the caffeine tablets were able to identify the different and similar images than the participants who took a placebo. Differentiating between images that are similar and only slightly different is more difficult than simply identifying images that are significantly different. The participants’ ability to identify the differences between similar images is called pattern separation, and it indicates a deeper memory retention level.

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Long-Term Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Coffee’s short-term effects on memory, focus and energy are beneficial, but coffee can also benefit long-term health. Coffee is a source of antioxidants such as polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals, which can damage DNA and proteins. This is why coffee can protect people from aging and many health conditions.

Oxidative stress contributes to harmful health conditions, but antioxidants can disarm free radicals and help the body defend itself against them. People consume 79% of their dietary antioxidants from beverages because many individuals tend to consume more antioxidant-rich beverages than food. Coffee’s antioxidants can help protect against the following diseases and conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Depression

While coffee cannot completely protect against these health conditions, coffee drinkers generally have a lower risk of developing them. Researchers have connected coffee to a 20-30% lower premature death risk and found that coffee can lead to a longer lifespan.

Don’t Go Overboard

Don't Go Overboard

Coffee works best in moderation, so it’s important that people avoid consuming too much coffee. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 400 milligrams or less of caffeine per day, which equals about four or five cups. Drinking too much caffeine can cause the following side effects:

  • Tension headaches
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Nervousness
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Shaking

The FDA recommends moderating caffeine intake and limiting it to early hours since drinking it at night can disrupt sleep patterns. Moderating coffee intake is a healthy way to reap its benefits. One or two cups per day can boost memory, focus, energy and mood, but this depends on a person’s caffeine tolerance. Some individuals may require four or five cups to feel energized, but they should limit their intake to five cups or fewer per day. Students can boost their health by combining coffee with the following additions:

  • Cinnamon: Adding a pinch of cinnamon to coffee adds extra antioxidants that can protect the brain and heart, boost the immune system and lower cancer risk.
  • Mushrooms: Mushroom powder containing Cordyceps mushrooms or Reishi can add immune-boosting, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects to coffee. Mushroom powder can also aid digestion and help to prevent cancer and liver disease.
  • Ginger: Sprinkling some freshly grated ginger in coffee can aid digestion, reduce muscle pain, treat nausea and lower cholesterol.
  • Maca: Adding a couple of teaspoons of maca to coffee can help balance hormones, increase energy levels and improve athletic performance. It also contains protein, vitamin C and over 20 amino acids.
  • Turmeric: Pairing turmeric with a pinch of black pepper and adding it to a cup of coffee can aid digestion, support liver detoxification and reduce depression symptoms.
  • Cacao: Adding raw, organic cacao to coffee can lower blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, boost mood and treat depression symptoms.

Adding these nutritious additives to coffee can enhance its health benefits. It’s also important that individuals remember to drink coffee as part of a balanced diet. Drinking too much coffee combined with an unhealthy diet can cause unfavorable side effects, but drinking a moderate amount of coffee combined with healthy foods and plenty of water can boost health, mood, focus and energy levels.

The Best Way to Drink Coffee

Mastering the art of coffee consumption is important if students want to reap the most benefits. Coffee can boost a person’s focus, energy levels, mood and cognitive performance. Imagine walking into your morning class in a happy mood, taking fantastic notes and acing your next exam. Coffee can fuel your efforts to reach this goal if you drink it effectively. To gain the most benefits from your coffee consumption, consider the following coffee drinking tips:

Consume Coffee Early in the Day

Consume Coffee Early in the Day

Avoid using coffee to fuel late-night study sessions and instead use it to fuel your mornings. Visit your university’s coffee bar before your first class of the day to boost your energy and focus.

Since drinking coffee later in the day can disrupt sleeping patterns, you should avoid drinking it in the late afternoon and evening. The body can take four to six hours to metabolize half of the caffeine you consume, so even drinking it with dinner or for a late afternoon energy boost can hinder your sleep schedule and keep you awake at night.

Caffeine and studying can be a great combination, but using caffeine to stay up late studying can negatively affect your academic performance. Sleep deprivation will likely catch up to you the following morning, and losing sleep can reduce your ability to perform well on exams, complete assignments and retain information. While late-night study sessions may be tempting, you will gain better results if you drink coffee in the mornings and study throughout the day so you can get adequate sleep at night. Sleep is important for good health, so it’s important to make sure your coffee intake supports your daytime energy levels without disrupting your sleep.

Limit Coffee Intake to Your Most Important Tasks

Avoid drinking coffee habitually because this can increase your caffeine tolerance and reduce its positive effects over time. Try to drink coffee before your most important tasks of the day. For example, if you have a long class in the middle of the morning, drink a cup of coffee before you enter the lecture room to increase your alertness.

If you need to write a paper on a Saturday, grab a cup of coffee from your university’s coffee bar in the morning and use it to fuel your focus and creative writing skills. Rather than absentmindedly filling every day with multiple cups of coffee, try to give each cup a specific purpose and limit your coffee consumption to the tasks that will require your best focus and energy. This will allow you to gain the most benefit from your coffee.

Maintain Your Caffeine Tolerance

Drinking coffee regularly and often will build your caffeine tolerance and limit the benefits you take from it. The more coffee you drink for an energy boost, the more you will need each day to feel the same energy. A person with a lower caffeine tolerance will benefit more from a single cup of coffee than a person with a high coffee tolerance. However, don’t fret if you’ve already built a high tolerance to coffee. You can easily reverse this with some simple caffeine intake maintenance.

Try to drink coffee only when you need an energy or focus boost, and maintain your caffeine tolerance by occasionally resetting it. To reset your caffeine tolerance, avoid coffee for an extended period of time. Spend a week or two not drinking coffee or taper your coffee intake over time. If you rely on coffee to focus on your studies, try resetting your caffeine tolerance while you’re on a summer or holiday break.

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Coffee is a rich, delectable beverage that increases energy and improves cognitive function. A cup of coffee can fuel students as they take on class lectures, lengthy research papers and challenging exams to reach their academic goals. Universities that provide coffee services for college students can significantly boost academic performance that reflects positively on their institution.

Boost your students’ moods, energy levels and focus with a coffee bar full of gourmet coffee selections. Create a local coffee shop experience on campus with a caf by American Dining Creations. With innovative equipment, authentic marketing, quality design and a wide variety of gourmet coffee options, we can help you design a coffee bar layout that will optimize the student experience on campus. Contact American Dining Creations to start creating a coffee bar experience for your college today

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