First Beer, Then Coffee

You sit down, pen to paper, ready for a good brainstorm. There is a problem at hand, and you’re going to solve it. You’ve come up with a string of ideas that include ridiculous things like a two way petting zoo and events that have to do with fan boats (both of which came about in a real life brainstorm). You realize you’re not hitting the sweet spot yet and you’re ready to resort to a creative juice to get your ideas flowing, but what will it be? Caffeine or alcohol?

As many people do, I often start my day with caffeine and end it with a beer. But did you know that these beverages are scientifically proven to affect your creativity in different ways?

According to an article by Mikael Cho, a beer or two will aid in your creative brainstorming process and a coffee will give you the kick you need to get it done.

We often are distracted by other worries when we are trying to concentrate. Much like when you are trying to remember the movie that one actor was in. The second you stop thinking about it, the movie will come to you. Idea generation works the same way. As Don Draper said, “Think about it deeply, then forget it… then the idea will jump up in your face.” When we become less worried about the things going on around us, it is easier for us to come up with ideas, and lucky for us, alcohol makes us do just that.

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Let’s get a little sciencey. We’re all looking for that “Ah ha!” moment where we feel we have had a breakthrough. This is something that actually happens in our brain after our front brain thinking has relaxed and you can move to the back of the brain where deeper connections are made. Alcohol is not the only thing that can help us achieve this. Once we are relaxed, we’re able to access this deep thinking which is why many people have their best ideas in the shower, on walks, or laying in bed.

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On the other end we have coffee. While most people caffeinate themselves one way or another throughout their day (or multiple times a day), coffee may not be the optimal choice for a brainstorming session. Numerous caffeine studies prove that coffee will increase performance but will not affect your idea generation as alcohol does. After you have decided on an idea, coffee will aid in your execution, as it only takes five minutes for coffee to trick your brain into thinking you are not tired.

The bottom line: when facing the decision of caffiene or alcohol, remember; beer for ideas, coffee will get it done.

But don’t get too crazy. Keep both drinks in moderation. I know from experience that sipping wine and brainstorming will come up with a winning idea, but polishing off a bottle of wine is just a party. The same goes for coffee. Too strong of a buzz will give you the shakes and a chatter mouth, which will lead to nothing getting done.

Today’s lesson: first beer, then coffee.

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