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Coffee–The Best Drink for Workplace Success?

Grabbing a cup of coffee on the way to work may be part of your morning ritual-but is it actually boosting your on-the-job performance?

Singapore may not be known as one of the world’s top coffee consumers (36th on the global list, averaging just 0.38 cups per day), but an impressive 62% of Singaporeans say they regularly consume coffee–almost double the number who regularly drink bottled water (36%)! Whether you’re someone who only occasionally partakes–or are questioning the benefits of your coffee habits–you may want to consider these surprising ways in which coffee can impact your success at work.

Drinking Coffee Boosts Trust, Fosters Group Decision-Making

Grabbing coffee on the go, perhaps as you rush to work, is certainly convenient–but there are a few drawbacks. Unless you’re carpooling or commuting with a friend, chances are you’re concentrating more on the day ahead than the people around you. Interestingly enough, you can benefit far more if you wait an hour or two, and have your first cup at work.

Drinking coffee can actually improve the quality of your contribution in team meetings, and boost overall group dynamic

To being with, coffee consumption is linked to higher quality of participation–and positivity–in group activities. A recent study conducted by UC Davis Graduate School of Management found that drinking caffeinated coffee not only boosted individual, task-related performance but also improved overall engagement within a team. In addition, research has also found that similar consumption habits may foster greater trust and cooperation. Given these findings, it may be worth drinking coffee with colleagues before or during your next big meeting!

Coffee Breaks at Work Can Boost Overall Productivity

Singapore has long been considered one of the ‘hardest working countries in the world.’ Given the drive to get ahead, you may feel pressured to shorten, or even avoid, taking breaks during the workday. This could actually be counterintuitive. Taking breaks during the workday has been shown to improve focus, enhance creativity and allow your brain to consolidate information. Because coffee can also boost alertness and fend off fatigue, taking a coffee break is an excellent way to make the most of this respite.

Caffeine Boosts Stamina, Coffee (As a Whole) Guards Body & Mind

Caffeine is a stimulant–this is pretty well-known. Drinking as little as ⅓ a Tall Starbucks coffee (about ~40mg caffeine) has enough ‘kick’ to measurably improve your mental acuity (alertness, vigilance and reaction time) and physical stamina (muscle strength, endurance, time-to-exhaustion). These are arguably great benefits if you’re working long hours or if your role involves significant exertion. In fact, healthcare administrators and physicians are amongst the heaviest coffee drinkers, which makes sense as both roles require long hours and sustained focus.

Coffee has merits beyond caffeine, however, making it a better choice than alternatives like energy drinks or soda. First of all, it’s virtually calorie free and is far more natural. Beyond this, it’s been shown to decrease the likelihood of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, heart failure–the list goes on. These attributes aren’t directly linked to caffeine; research suggests that the compounds within coffee itself interacts with caffeine to produce a positive impact. While these features may not lead to an immediate boost in your job performance, your body will thank you down the line–coffee has been shown to slow cognitive decline, and coffee drinkers also tend to live longer.

Coffee Doesn’t Need to Be Expensive

Drinking coffee generally seems like a good idea. Research has continued to show how coffee can potentially help you work better with others, improve productivity, and even boost your long-term health. However, there is one more thing to consider: cost.

Drinking coffee comes at a cost–literally. In 2016, Singapore was even named the 20th most expensive city for coffee, at S$3.30/cup on average. As of 2019, the cost of a Tall hot brewed coffee at Starbucks is S$3.80. If you’re picking up coffee at this rate once daily, for an entire work week, you’ll spend an incredible S$76.0/month! While you can earn cashback by paying with a credit card, you’ll hardly offset such expense.

Ordering Starbucks is by far more expensive than picking up coffee at a hawker stall or brewing your own at home

However, coffee can be quite affordable. In fact, many offices have their own coffee machines. If your office doesn’t, you could pool money with your co-workers to buy one–there are several ways to save on such a purchase. You can also buy coffee at hawker centres (about S$1) or brew your own at home (capsules average less than S$1). However, to enjoy the full benefits of coffee, it’s best to bring these to work.

Final Word: Everything in Moderation

Coffee certainly has its benefits–but as mentioned earlier, you can enjoy the physical perks by drinking less than a “small” serving size. In addition, many of coffee’s advantages are driven by taking coffee breaks to connect with others, rather than just caffeine. Excess coffee intake can actually detract from on-the-job performance by causing anxiety, insomnia and other adverse symptoms. So, as always, moderation is key. And, if you’re looking for an alternative, consider tea–you’ll still get a caffeine bump and have the opportunity to take a stroll with your colleagues.

Carrie Arndt

Carrie is a Senior Analyst at ValueChampion, helping consumers find the best credit cards and other financial products based on quantitative and qualitative analysis. She previously led consumer studies worldwide as a Senior Research Executive at MMR Research, and led development & operations and BellaVetro. She attended Duke University and Penn State University, graduating with a degree in Political Science and Government. Her work has been featured on a variety of major media such as Yahoo Finance, Asia One, Buro, Zuu Online and more.

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