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The Best Time of Day to Drink Coffee: Science and Habit

For many of us, the smell of freshly brewed coffee is the only alarm clock we need. A morning without a hot cup of Joe is dreadfully unimaginable, yet we sometimes end up debating - what's the best time of day to indulge our caffeine cravings?

Drawing from scientific research and understanding human habit, we will plunge into the enchanting pool of coffee culture and find out when you should best set your coffee timer.

## The Science Behind It

Brewing this answer is a hormone called cortisol- the 'stress hormone'. Produced by our body, cortisol helps us stay awake and alert. The fascinating part? Your body's cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day, peaking primarily between 8-9 AM, midday between 12-1 PM, and during the early evening around 5.30-6.30 PM in a pattern known as the 'cortisol awakening response'.

When your cortisol is peaking, naturally, your alertness is at its peak as well. Consuming coffee during this time will not add much to your alertness and might even lead to developing a tolerance to caffeine, making your essential espressos less effective over time.

So science suggests sipping on your beloved cup of coffee during the periods your cortisol is dipping, to maximize the caffeine effectiveness. Taking these dips into consideration and the time it takes for coffee to brew and cool down, the best times would likely be between 9.30-11.30 AM, and 1.30-5.00 PM.

## Habit Influences

Despite the science, we humans are complex creatures with deeply ingrained habits. Morning coffee routines hold a cherished spot in our heart, acting as a comforting ritual to kick-start the day. It's often less about the pure physical effects of caffeine and more about the psychological comfort and routine these rituals offer.

For those with the morning habit, consuming a small amount of coffee upon waking and saving the majority for the low-cortisol windows can be an excellent compromise.

If evening coffee is your ritual, tread carefully. Remember, it takes about 6 hours for half of the caffeine to leave your system. Consuming coffee too late in the day might hamper your sleep.

## Personal Factors

Every individual's caffeine metabolism is different and depends on factors like genetics, age, pregnancy, and even whether you're a smoker. Considering these factors, the 'best' time for coffee will always vary from person to person, despite the general cortisol pattern.

Listen to your body. Do you feel overly jittery after your morning cup, or does an afternoon espresso leave you wired at night? Adjust your coffee schedule accordingly.

In essence, the 'best' time truly combines a blend of understanding the science, considering your personal lifestyle factors, respecting your habits while carefully listening to your body’s unique language.

Experts advise moderation with a daily intake of no more than 400mg of caffeine (about four 8oz cups of coffee for an average adult). Starting your day with coffee is undoubtedly a pleasure many of us wouldn't trade, but by trying to avoid your cortisol peaks, you might find your coffee ritual becomes an even more effective tool in managing your day-to-day life.

Now, who’s up for a beautifully brewed compromise? It's coffee o'clock somewhere!

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