I like a good cup of coffee. Especially when I have a task at hand that needs my full attention like study for an exam. I was always worried that consuming coffee during my studies would impact my health or performance and was just a tool to keep me awake.

So does coffee help you study or even enhance your memory? Coffee or more specific the Caffeine inside does indeed help you to study. It enhances your focus, keeps you alert, brings you in a good mood and even improves your short-term memory. 

So when using study aids there are certain tips to follow about when to have your coffee and how much is too much. I also took a look at the question of whether the type of coffee does make a difference or whether your favorite java should be “enhanced” with other ingredients.

What research has found about the coffee study relationship

The John Hopkins Researchers conducted an experiment where some people had been given a Caffeine pill and others had received a placebo. The group with the stimulant had greater success in completing a memory task than the others. Another study has shown learning something new causes our brain cells to break their DNA strands.  A German group of scientists found out that Caffeine apparently helps to repair these damages much faster. Besides all the memory benefits coffee surprisingly has most people still use it to stay focused and awake. But like with many other stimulants people react differently to the amount of caffeine. Too much coffee can make you experience the jitters, nausea, tiredness, and it will impact a good night sleep which is as crucial for your studies as being focused and alert.

How much coffee is too much

People react differently to coffee. I did a self-experiment and drank 1 cup of coffee every hour until I experienced noticeable side effects. Until the fifth cup of coffee everything was fine but then I started to feel some kind of nervousness. The focus benefit I had gained before was gone. I was more alert than I wanted and a bit shaky which eventually brought down my mood – I still could retain what I had learned that day.  So what does science say? For an adult, the recommended amount is about 400mg caffeine per day. That is about four cups of brewed coffee.

Is there a difference in what kind of coffee I drink?

What makes coffee so useful for your study is the caffeine inside. So I was wondering which type of coffee provides me with the biggest shot. I found several comparison tables and not very surprisingly espresso ranked very high on that list. The only higher values were found in some exotic brands which I had honestly never heard before. Since they are not readily available everywhere and quite pricey I ruled them out because for long study periods it is just too troublesome to provide for your daily caffeine intake. You can check these out on Amazon if you want to boost your study experience even further:

I just ordered Deathwish Coffee to see if that really makes a difference… together with this mug. Love it!

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I think I rather stay with espresso if I need to kickstart my study. The problem with espresso is that because it is usually consumed in very small amounts it can only beat a normal brew when you have a double. 

Put some coconut oil in your coffee

Never heard of it? Me neither but my wife just told me she found this neat little trick when she tried to find something for her hair. I thought she was kidding me but my research found that coconut oil contains a kind of fat called medium-chain triacylglycerols or MCTs. Not only are MCTs linked to weight loss but studies have shown that they suppress hunger. So the reason why you should put a teaspoon of coconut oil in your coffee to improve your study is that it keeps you from getting distracted by cravings or hunger during your study time which further improves your focus. If this is not your taste in the related questions area at the end I put an Amazon link for coconut oil caffeine pills – seems there is a pill for everything.

Good night sleep vs late night coffee

I am an early bird so this problem does not affect me that much but many of my friends like to do “late night study”. The problem is when you try to keep yourself alert and awake with coffee your sleep quality is impacted. The general recommendation is that you should stop drinking coffee 6 hours before bedtime. From my experience, I can clearly say that having a good sleep is essential for study success. Coffee might boost your memory and performance but when it is used as a tool to make your day longer it does more harm than it is useful. Especially when you after a long evening with coffee get up early and try to “wake up” with even more coffee. This is the reason why planning ahead for an exam and having a reasonable study time per day combined with enough and good sleep is essential. If you need more time to study I suggest you read my article about sleep improvement. This is a game changer because you actually don’t need a specific amount of hours per night but rather a high quality sleep. 

Related questions

I don’t like coffee, what else can I drink? There are quite a number of other drinks that contain caffeine that you can choose from. Here is a short list including their caffeine level (for comparison, one cup of brewed coffee has around 95mg caffeine)

  • Tea (50mg)
  • Energy drinks (150mg – 175mg)
  • Coke (35mg – 50mg)

Except for tea, all the other drinks have of course sugar or other ingredients that influence your health and your weight.

Are there any snacks that contain caffeine? Yes, if you don’t want to drink that much during the day and do not care about some sugar you can also eat the following snacks (30-60mg of caffeine). 

Are there any pills available? Yes of course. These pills are helpful if you are on Keto like I am and don’t want the extra sugar from snacks. I personally think that the act of drinking a coffee from a mug, holding it, feeling with the heat (especially in winter) and having the smell of a fresh brew beats every pill. Still, take a look at these examples from Amazon that give you the benefits of caffeine without the disadvantages of coffee or snacks:

Final thoughts: When I started to research this topic I didn’t expect that coffee had changed its reputation that much especially when it comes to studying. This will definitely change the way I drink coffee. My next coffee break will be much more relaxed. I already put a small coffee machine on my desk next to my Deathwish mug. So here is my final advice:

A new research has shown that the best time to drink a coffee is freaking right now.

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Michael Borgers

I’m the author of “How to Sell your Photos Online” and “The Secret of Passing your HSK Chinese Level 1 Exam”. I created a cross-platform App to pass exams, several websites, and I sell photos on Microstock websites. In summary, I’m a passionate passive income freelancer who gave up his 9-5 Job at Hewlett-Packard years ago.

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