On a recent trip to Arizona, while sipping a smooth french pressed dark roast from the comfort of my brother’s couch, sunshine pouring in the window and onto my new nephew Tripp’s inquisitive little face, I came across an interesting blog that posed the question:
“Which drink (coffee or beer) makes you more creative?”
I was hooked to read this one through, being that these two beverages are the lifeblood that fuel my ever threatened productivity levels. And after reading, I felt compelled to write a little myself.
I stepped up my interest in beer when I started brewing back in college. Growing up I loved science projects, and brewing is a fun experiment that ends in beer, so that’s awesome! So far I’ve done an amber ale, a cinnamon vanilla stout, a grapefruit pale ale, a nutty brown ale and a coffee stout. There was a time when my future looked like it had a micro-brewery in it. But other aspirations took hold and my would-be brewing company fell to the back-burner. Still, it’s a fun hobby, and I love great beer.
I don’t think I started appreciating good coffee until I really began to travel. This goes for the way we learn to appreciate many things in life. Exposure to new experiences and traveling in general can heighten so many existent pleasures by continuously expanding your horizons.
During my stay in New Zealand I started to love espresso and black coffee. Since then, I’ve been a coffee nut and it all came to a head while on my Between The Peaks expedition. We worked on 2 different coffee plantations in Central America and there, I learned what fresh coffee is. I learned what a difference it makes to grind up fresh whole beans for your morning cup. Or for your ninth cup at 4pm.
To cut straight to the point, I freaking love coffee and beer. But when is the right time to grab one vs the other? The answer to this question is less obvious than coffee in the morning and beer anytime after 12pm!
BEER BRINGS BRIGHT IDEAS
Reason being? After a couple of drinks you care less about what’s happening around you. Alcohol makes you think less about your surroundings and opens your mind to more freely link unconnected ideas. Decreased working memory equals better problem solving skills.
This is proven in an interesting experiment by Dave Birss in which 2 teams of advertising folk are split into the sober group and the drinkers. They are presented a challenge and compete on who can come up with the most, and the best, ideas in a given amount of time. The drinkers end up winning.
Yes, alcohol makes you creative. No big surprise when you think of all the artists, musicians, poets, writers, etc. over time who have had famously problematic drinking problems. So, of course don’t take it to the extremes, but a couple of beers usually does mean better ideas!
WITH COFFEE COMES THE FOCUS
Now that the ideas have undergone inception, what’s next? How do you bring them to life? How do you make them better? Expand on them? For me it generally starts with a big cup of coffee and a notepad or my laptop. The effects of caffeine can be felt within 5 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee and may stick around for a couple of hours. You know what this feels like. It’s the feeling of alertness and energy. It’s the “okay now I’m ready to get shit done” feeling. It’s a wonderful thing the productivity these little magic beans can bring.
TO ANSWER THE QUESTION…
Which drink makes you more creative? Both coffee and beer play their role in creativity. But go for the beer during a brainstorming and idea generating session, and when it comes time to get things done, choose coffee. Coffee can be the spark to make ideas better and find the creative focus to build out the processes that turn great ideas into impactful realities.
Speaking of coffee, my brother Chris and I recently embarked on an adventure in fueling creativity. We’re importing limited quantities of beans from an organic coffee plantation in Honduras. The sales support Leadership Mission International, promoting higher education opportunities and entrepreneurial growth for women in Honduras. Check out: http://caffe.ronz.io
Post inspired by an original article from Mikael Cho
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