Slower Coffee, Faster Brain

Is a warm, full-bodied cup of coffee the brain juice that good mornings are made of? I say yes.

The muffled eruption of the ground roast in the percolator, the aroma of the beans, their fragrance blooming from Guatemala or Ethiopia; a piece of that far away land in your local coffee shop and brought to you in the form of an 8 oz. cup of caffeine. Shouldn’t we experience that perfect cup of java in that cup you hold so dear?

More than likely what happens in your kitchen and in coffee shops from Manhattan to Melbourne is quite the opposite. The beep of the alarm clock has you waking less like a scene from a Disney movie and more like a scene from The Fast and The Furious. With a push of a few buttons and a pour in your thermos, you’re off to the races. Perhaps you don’t even make coffee at home – you order your large frothacino to go, lid and all, from a drive-thru franchisee. You’re busy, right? There’s no chance to take the time to enjoy your $6 coffee-flavored sugar festival.

The herd mentality.

Too often we are part of a herd. Lining up in our cars to order whatever the newest trend is, not knowing where the roast is from because we drown it in fake cream and faker sugar and factory-flavored syrups. What once was a hearty roast has been transformed into a watered-down sucrose rush. One by one we pay out the window of our cars and are onto the next thing; not taking time to enjoy our morning or our coffee.

Dopamine or serotonin?

The writer Seth Godin, talks about the happiness and pleasure gap. Pleasure is short-term, taken not given, and runs because of dopamine. Happiness is long-term. It’s generous, it’s giving and it works on serotonin. Let that sink in for second. The rush to get through a coffee is just one example of short-term pleasure. It is exemplified in the immediate satisfaction of getting your coffee and getting to work. The coffee experience becomes about the queue and the lid being on right and the traffic getting out of the car park. We wear the fact that we got in and out of Starbucks in 3 minutes flat as some kind of Chai infused badge of honor. Happiness requires patience, focus and mindfulness. When is the last time an effort was made to get up early and enjoy that cup, the newspaper or a good book before the start of your day versus the short-term dopamine effect that big brand coffee shops dish out alongside their overpriced wares?

So, what can be done to combat the rush? If I asked my best clients, they’d say “you have time for what you make time for.” Coffee is a great way to get on the path to mindfulness and appreciating the day that lies ahead, so I’m giving you three big tips.

  1. Make time, not excuses

My number one tip is to make time. If you truly want to make the most of your morning and the most of that cup, relish it. Be it at your home or at the café around the corner, make time for yourself. The reality of a smooth morning lies in a smooth evening. I’ve written about that in my post How I Get More Done Than You. If you need a wake-up call, let me know. I’ve never met a morning alarm that I can’t outperform (you’ve been warned).

  1. Learn more about what you love

Guatemalan versus Ethiopian – what are the differences? Instead of letting your coffee fate be decided for you, find out where that roast is from. What goes into harvesting the beans? Ask questions, owners love to talk about their roasts and their pour-overs so ask and get into your coffee. Remember what that feels like? To be into something?

  1. Invest in a cafetière

OK, fine, it’s called a French Press here in the states but how fancy will you sound when you drop cafetière into the comments section on your profile? Two proper scoops of fine-grained coffee, add boiling water and you have yourself a cup that you made with beans you ground (if you have a grinder extra points to you!) and the taste will make you feel like a full human again. So, if you’re looking for a way to be mindful in the morning, a good cup of coffee is the perfect excuse.

You, but more fabulous than usual.

The relief I see in clients when they finally “see” the morning they wish for is astounding. If there’s one part of the day that I work on with clients more than any other – it’s mornings. And my advice is simple: stop the morning rush. The magic is in the morning.

Your morning is unique, despite you habitually treating it like Groundhog Day. Treat yourself like you would treat your very best friend. What would you tell them if they were rushing through life, not enjoying the little things? “Take a seat, Falconer, relax a little!” you might say. Give yourself a slower coffee and I guarantee you’ll be thanking me for your faster brain. I dare you. Savor your cup of organic, Guatemalan roast and settle into your fabulous self.

Look around you. See those sheep rushing by? That’s not you anymore.

If you’re still not sure, let’s do a coffee date sometime. I’ll show you what complete attention looks like.


Coffee photo courtesy of Cynthia Malone.



About me

Boyd Falconer

Boyd Falconer

People have described Boyd Falconer as a secret weapon for navigating success. He specializes in coaching executives, entrepreneurs, athletes and celebrities.

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