As a drink that so many of us love, it's easy to geek out on coffee. But what do you really know about your favorite drink? Here are seven facts about coffee that maybe weren't on your radar, and you can now use as party trivia.
1. Your body doesn't need coffee first thing in the morning.
Because of your body's natural clock (aka the circadian clock), you naturally produce cortisol — a hormone linked to alertness — when you wake up. That means that if you add coffee to the mix, the caffeine actually isn't doing anything for you. Want the best effects of the caffeine? Wait until late morning, when the cortisol levels have dropped.
2. It's not actually the caffeine you crave. It's the caffeine's effect on adenosine.
Ever thought about why coffee makes you feel the way it does? It all has to do with what's happening in your brain. As your brain is active, and the neurons are firing, these neurons produce the by-product adenosine. Your nervous system monitors the levels of adenosine, and when you start getting to high levels of it, the brain slows down, which makes you sleepy or at least slow down on what you're doing. But caffeine attaches to your adenosine receptors, and when it does, your brain can't detect the adenosine levels, so it keeps going at top speed.
Which means that caffeine isn't getting you jacked up; it's actually putting the brakes on the thing that naturally slows you down.
3. Honeybees are really into coffee, too.
There's the buzz of a bee and the buzz of caffeine, but as it turns out, the two have a link. It has been shown that caffeine both attracts honeybees — kind of like a drug — and that it has a positive impact on their longterm memory.
4. Astronauts have a special cup so they can drink coffee in space.
Most of us never think about gravity, but if you didn't have any to keep your coffee in your cup, you probably would. Scientists at Portland State University have been working on a special cup so astronauts don't have to drink their coffee out of a bag. But the zero-gravity coffee cups don't come cheap; they cost $500 to print in a 3-D printer.
5. Caffeine naps are real (and effective).
Want to get the most out of your afternoon nap? Then drink some coffee before you go to sleep. Researchers have found that a cup of coffee followed by a 15-minute nap leads to people feeling extra alert.
6. The background noise in a cafe is good for you.
Ambient noise has been shown to positively influence creativity, so if you feel like you're incredibly productive in coffee shops, this might be a reason why. But if you can't go to a cafe, you can still create this feel at home. The site Coffitivy recreates the ambient noise that you're used to hearing in a cafe, the clanking of espresso cups and all, which you can stream right through your headphones.
7. Coffee spills more easily than beer.
Ever tried to serve a cup very full of black coffee? It's hard to keep it from spilling over the edges. But what about a full pint? As it turns out, scientists have shown that beer doesn't spill as easily as coffee because of the foam content. Which means that your cappuccino is going to slosh less than a cup of black filter.