• Deya Bhattacharya

Coffee The Right Way: How To Get A Healthy Caffeine Fix

I don't know about you, but I refuse to start my day without a good, hot cup of Joe.

It's such a saviour, isn't it. Calms you down, preps you up, jolts your brain into action, pulls you out of drowsy slumps and tastes fantastic too. And yes, I know there's a big movement towards clean eating and cutting out caffeine, but I'm afraid I (and most other freelancers/creatives/entrepreneurs/working folks) love coffee and its magical effects too much. #sorrynotsorry

Now everyone has their own coffee drinking pattern. The type of coffee, the drink size, how often they drink it. What's important, however, is to tweak your coffee routine so that it's sustainable over long periods of time. Let's not forget that too much coffee can be a royal pain (tremors, anyone?), and you don't want to overdo it to the point where you stop drinking it altogether (someone I knew used to drink two litres of filter coffee every day during her college years and then gave it up altogether after six months). Caffeine's amazing - as long as you're mindful about how much you're having and when.

I've experimented a lot with coffee over the years, and I've always tended to drink too much. Now that my metabolism is slowing down (sigh) I've been forced to cut back - so all the tips I'm about to share are things I've actually tried out and found effective. On that note, here's how you can optimise your coffee intake today - from one coffee-holic to another.

Stick to a standard brew.

When I'm checking out new places on my days off, I like experimenting with different coffees. But on a regular work day, it's always better to stick to what you know is good. This way you avoid the gut-punch of ordering a coffee right before you start work only to realise that it smells bad and tastes worse. My usual brews are instant coffee at home and cappuccinos if I'm at a cafe or co-working spaces, maybe sometimes a flat white if I need something stronger, no fixings and no flavours. Figure out what works for you, depending on where you work and what's available, and stick to it.

Make it last as long as you can.

You know the feeling you get when you're working intently and raise your cup to your lips and take a sip, only to realise you're sucking in air? Not fun. And to stave off that moment as much as possible, drink your coffee slowly and allow each sip to roll over your tongue and fill your mouth with that rich coffee goodness. Yes, I know coffee gets cold - but guess what? You can always ask the barista to heat it up, or do it yourself in a microwave. Pro tip - if heating it yourself, wait till the coffee is just scalding hot before pulling it out. That extra heat will refresh the flavour and make you feel like you're sipping a brand-new drink. Bingo.

Have a cup soon after lunch.

If you have a day job, you know all about the post-lunch fatigue. If you work independently, you know that mid-day blank phase where you're on the verge of binge-watching Netflix any minute. Having a cup of coffee can get you out of that rut and prep you up in time for the next work sitting. Oh, and if you have a meeting after lunch? That coffee is mandatory if you want to avoid falling asleep while your boss is talking. Trust me. I've been there.

Never have two cups of coffee in the same sitting.

This might sound crazy coming from me, but I cannot stress this enough. Unless you're having an all-milk latte, DO NOT have two cups of coffee in the same sitting. You will have a headache, and you will find it hard to work. This is something you may not believe at first, because you're on a caffeine high after the first cup and you order another one just top it up. But trust me when I say, it's not worth it. Ideally you should keep at least a 3-4 hour gap between each cup you consume, so that your system has time to settle down.

If you must have coffee at night, have a half portion.

I'm not going to be a preacher and tell you that you shouldn't have coffee at night, because we all know that we need caffeine if there's an urgent project to finish and you have just one night. I will say, however, that you should have less than you'd normally have. This works for two reasons. One - with less caffeine intake, you're less likely to mess up your sleep cycle (I can't count the number of times I've messed up mine because I had a big mug of coffee at 11 PM). Two - the adrenaline rush of knowing you're almost out of time will keep you up anyway.

Don't drink it when you don't want to.

I know, I know. You have a habit of drinking coffee at 3 PM, you're gonna do so no matter what. But think about it. If there's only a limited amount of coffee you can safely consume every day, wouldn't you rather save it up for when you really want it? I've made the mistake of 'coffee for the sake of it', and believe me - I regretted it each time. So nowadays I listen to what my body wants and get my coffee accordingly. Of course, there are times when you can't help it - let's say you'll be on the road or in a meeting all evening, and now is your last chance to grab a cup. But when you have the option, always keep your coffee for when you want (or need) it the most.

What are your experiences with coffee routines? I'd love to know!

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