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There’s been a big question in the past about whether or not coffee enhances your cognitive abilities or your memory. Given that so many people rely on the caffeine to either give them a jump-start or to keep going when they otherwise would be flagging, it’s fair to say that there’s a bit of curiosity around this topic. 

We’ve looked into this aspect of imbibing a hot cup of Joe, and this is what this article is all about. So, let’s dive right in…

Does Drinking Caffeinated Coffee in the Morning Improve Memory Performance?

A research paper from the Frontiers in Psychology performed some testing of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages in young adults (mainly students). Specifically, the authors examined whether memory recall was improved for young adults drinking caffeinated coffee drinks in the morning or the afternoon. 

The researchers found a strong connection between drinking caffeinated coffee drinks in the morning and improved memory recall even in younger people who had sub-6 hours of sleep the night before instead of a more normal 7-8 hours. They also observed a 30 percent improvement when drinking caffeinated drinks in the early afternoon instead, which was not as significant but still noticeable.

Also, researchers looked at whether exercise or stretching for a few minutes was enough to get the brain awake enough for the memory to be improved. They found that while participants felt more awake, they did not enjoy better memory effects from exercising or stretching out. 

Does Drinking Caffeinated Coffee Help the Over 65s?

The researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona looked at the over 65 age group to see how caffeine affected their memory recall. The paper from 2002 indicated that ingesting caffeinated drinks in the morning gave a considerable boost to memory performance which then tapped off as the morning ended and the afternoon progressed.

It was also found that decaffeinated drinks resulted in a steady drop in memory performance throughout the daytime hours. This re-confirmed the fact that coffee itself isn’t the cause of the memory improvements per se. 

Is Long-term Memory the Real Benefactor?

Other researchers at Johns Hopkins University examined whether 200mg of caffeine (the average American consumes 300mg per day) was enough to improve memory. What they discovered was that taking in a caffeinated drink an hour before and testing short-term memory an hour later didn’t have much of a positive effect. Only increasing the caffeine levels would do that. 

However, the story with long-term memory at the 200mg level confirmed that the recall of events in the past was significantly stronger. In some respects, the real winner was being able to remember facts learned previously as opposed to remembering clearly what happened in the last hour. From a study or work standpoint, that’s far more likely to be of practical benefit in the real world.

What Coffee Blend is Best?

It was found that the type of coffee consumed did not change how the memory works. The presence of caffeine, rather than either the flavor or blend made the difference, but the higher the milligram level, the greater the difference. This is great news for all coffee drinkers, whether they use granules, beans, or capsules. If you’re looking to up your coffee intensity for maximum effect, you can find various strengths and flavors at sites like Gourmesso, and you can even buy guilt-free as they're Fairtrade certified. A win-win for everyone concerned. 

Whether you’re a student or holding down a job, the research is clear. Both short-term and especially long-term memory is aided when drinking caffeinated coffee, and the more the better. Getting close to a 200mg hit of caffeine by drinking several cups provides the best bang for your buck.