The Best Time of Day to Drink Coffee

3Fifty-four percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink an average of three nine-ounce cups of coffee each day. Coffee is arguably the most popular hot (or cold) drink in the world today. It is as intoxicating now as it was in that distant ninth century date when it was accidentally discovered by a lonely goatherd in the hills of Ethiopia.

The Science of Drinking Coffee

Sixty percent of American coffee drinkers enjoy their caffeine jolt at the beginning of the day with breakfast. However, recent studies have questioned the wisdom of this morning ritual.

Most coffee drinkers claim they cannot start their day without the caffeine spike from their morning cup of java. For a majority of people, cortisol levels peak within one hour after waking up from a full night’s sleep.

This hormone is related to stress as well as alertness. Many people also eat breakfast typically within an hour of getting out of bed. So having your cup of coffee with breakfast when you are already most alert (since your cortisol levels are at their peak) neutralizes the potential alertness boost that caffeine delivers.

Based on these findings, the best time to take coffee would be when cortisol levels are flagging or at their lowest – typically three to four hours after waking up. This would normally be somewhere between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. for many people. Perhaps it is no coincidence this is the usual time for a coffee break in a normal work day.

The Art of Drinking Coffee

On the other hand, coffee lovers maintain that the best time to drink coffee is whatever time of the day they feel like doing so, cortisol levels be damned! And who can blame them?

Not counting the caffeine jolt it delivers, good coffee is an aromatic elixir that soothes and calms even as it reinvigorates and enlivens the senses.

More than 1.4 billion cups of coffee are consumed all over the world every single day, with 45 percent (or over 400 million) cups in the United States alone. Clearly, not all those cups are consumed merely to help bridge the gap between cortisol spikes in the human nervous system.

Hot or cold, with cream or black, in a corner café or in their own kitchens, coffee lovers will savor and enjoy their favorite cup of joe any way they can at any time of the day or night – solid scientific research notwithstanding.

J. Martinez is the owner of J. Martinez & Company Fine Coffees, selling gourmet estate and single-origin coffees from all over the world, including Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee and Hawaii Kona coffee. Learn more about Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee at

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