A Versatile Brain Tonic: How Coffee Stirs Up Creativity

A cup of black coffee beside a pile of books on creativity

At this point, we all know what sets coffee apart from other beverages, besides its distinct taste, it is in fact its overall ability to keep us awake and energized that help us get through the day intact. The rapid development of civilization along with the higher demands of the workforce goes hand in hand with the normalization of caffeine that is most likely in the form of coffee. With this utilitarian reason in mind, it follows why having coffee usually means serious business.

Noticeably, we rarely feel the need to consume this useful beverage during recreational activities. While this is probably for the reason that we do not tend to be lethargic during enjoyable times, have you ever wondered how the effects attributed to coffee can promote not just one’s productivity, but her creativity as well? Also, as to how it is valued by people that rely on creativity consequently not having conventional jobs or simply put, the artists and creatives?

Just as any form of art or artistic activity elevates our way of living and seeing the world, no doubt, the creative process requires a number of stimulations. Fortunately, we’re here to explain how getting a cup of coffee is easily one of the most effective.

Creativity and the coffee buzz

An artist’s creativity is arguably one of the main components of his capital. The way she is able to think outside the box and come up with novel ideas to execute is certainly something she lives off of. Nonetheless, creativity, unlike our typical cognitive faculties, does not simply arise in an ordinary and static state.

While it was only recently that Scientists have taken up the task of studying creativity, their findings so far implies that an aspect of being creative is having the ability make deeper connections and interrelations of ideas and even seemingly irrelevant things that are out there. And so, this kind ofdivergent thinking[1] inevitably needs spontaneity, or a trigger that will set off a radical and far reaching domino effect.

This is where coffee comes in; it is typically overlooked that coffee not only keeps us awake, but also gives us a distinct buzz. What we’re talking about is not simply just a boost in our energy; coffee actually allows us to have a heightened state of mind as well. This is probably why some people even call it a brain tonic[2].

Undeniably, the right amount of coffee sharpens the mind (this is backed up by numerous studies even claiming that it can even prevent the onset of mental disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease) and allows the mind to reach a point of clarity and transparency of thought.

Thus, what naturally comes with this is the mind’s ability to break down its typical barriers and push itself to go the distance with its ideas—to be more open and less frigid with its thought processes. In the case of creativity, it easily fits that much needed trigger that is able to get our creative juices flowing.

Getting in the zone 

If the science behind it wasn’t enough to convince you about coffee’s efficiency and versatility, let us tackle the sociological aspect of the coffee experience and creativity. Surprisingly, even before all the studies regarding the benefits of coffee materialized, it has long been imbedded in the routines of well-known artists and intellectuals. In Mason Currey’s book “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work[3]”, it is safe to say that the most common word you can find in nearly all of the rituals brought up is none other than coffee.

From Beethoven, to Franz Kafka to David Lynch and many more, most of the artists mentioned in the book automatically made room to marvel over a cup or so (Philosopher Voltaire even reportedly had 40-50 cups a day) in their day to day struggle to make their creative visions come to life. It probably also wasn’t a coincidence that the goat herder, Kaldi, who was said to have first discovered the marvelous effects of the coffee plant was also a poet as it was said that poetry and song spilled out of him. He felt that he would never be tired or grouchy again. [4]

In a nutshell, when we look at the experience of having coffee — the very act of it, its smell, what it stands for and really just the overall tone that it sets, whether you’re having it at home, or at the coffee shop — we can come to realize that drinking coffee tends to playfully nudge us or rather, inspire us to make something out of the moment, the day and even of ourselves. All of this, it does in a warm, comforting and yet, exciting manner — unlike the way one is typically pressured to do something. In a natural way, coffee makes room in us and helps us get in the zone to articulate. Figuratively speaking, as we stir its mixture, it in turn stirs up something in us that, like what happened to Kaldi, is just waiting to be poured out.

True enough, David Lynch agreed in one of his interviews that coffee has inspired a lot of his works and he certainly wasn’t mistaken when he said that it is indeed “part of the art life.”[5]