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Coffee vs. beer: which drink makes you more creative?

Mikael Cho
May 29, 2013 · 8 min read

What is creativity really?

From a scientific perspective, creativity is your ability to think of something original from connections made between pre-existing ideas in your brain.

Your brain on coffee

Every coffee drinker is familiar with the feelings after drinking a fresh cup of java.

Source: The Oatmeal

Coffee is like a bottle rocket

The peak effect of caffeine on your body happens between 15 minutes and 2 hours after you consume it.

Why there are lots of famous drunk artists, but no famous drunk accountants

While caffeine pulls a number on your brain to make you feel like you have more energy, alcohol has its own way of influencing your creativity.

Alcohol produces better ideas

In an interesting study on the topic of alcohol and its effects on creativity, author Dave Birss brought together a group of 18 advertising creative directors and split them into two teams.

A creative prescription: The optimal way to drink coffee and beer

Both coffee and beer (in moderation) have shown to be helpful when you’re working on certain types of tasks, however, you shouldn’t drink either when you need to do detail-oriented or analytical projects like your finances.

Beer for the idea

The best time to have a beer (or two) would be when you’re searching for an initial idea. Because alcohol helps decrease your working memory (making you feel relaxed and less worried about what’s going on around you), you’ll have more brain power dedicated to making deeper connections.

Coffee for the execution

Coffee meanwhile, doesn’t necessarily help you access more creative parts of your brain like a couple pints of beer.

Always in moderation

If you decide to drink coffee or beer while you’re working, stick to no more than 2 drinks per sitting and try not to do this more than once or twice per week to prevent dependency.


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The Startup

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Mikael Cho

Written by

Founder/CEO @unsplash @mikaelcho

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +479K people. Follow to join our community.