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Workplace productivity with coffee: regular week vs decaf week

Written by: on  September 4, 2013

Editor’s note: After water, coffee is the most consumed drink in the world – even here in Britain [YouGov Poll], coffee is sharing the office with tea.

The jury’s out on whether coffee decreases or increases productivity in the office. But do let us know if you find a legit workplace without any coffee presence – we can’t. For fun look at the caffeine fuelled 2.5 billion dollar video game company, Valve, and its approach to decaf in their new employee handbook:

valve coffee machine

Since there is no definitive study with statistical significance to show the correlation between coffee consumption and workplace output, we chatted with the team at Strong Vend to explore the relationship… – Filip

Enter Strong Vend:

Early last month, enviable workplace was approached by Strong Vend to showcase some research they had conducted about the extent to which coffee boosts productivity at work. To conduct this research, Strong Vend called on the help of Cyber-Duck, a fast-paced coffee guzzling digital agency to take part in the subjective research. The data for the experiment was obtained through daily surveys, over a two week period – a week with and a week without drinking coffee.

The results below show how participants rated their perceived productivity, anxiety, concentration, mood, motivation and performance on a scale of 1 to 5. Strong Vend reached the conclusion that drinking coffee helped to boost productivity and motivation of the Cyber-Duck workforce by a whopping 19%!

See the infographic below that charts how the consumption of coffee changed the working week…



History of Coffee

It is thought that coffee was first discovered high in the Ethiopian highlands. According to legend, Kaldi the goatherd noticed his goats were displaying unusually hyper-active behaviour and identified the cause to be consumption of red berries. Upon this realisation, Kaldi reported his discovery to a local monastery where the beans from the red berries were crushed down to form the basis of a drink – Coffee was born!

On this basis, coffee has been used as a stimulant drink dating back to 800AD. However, nowadays rather than being consumed to keep monks alert through evenings of prayer, coffee is a popular stimulant drunk in the workplace and many offices supply coffee to employees to enhance their productivity.  Coffee is in fact the world’s second most valuable traded commodity, highlighting the significant influence it has over our lives.

Our Research

The motivation behind this research was to discover how fundamental a coffee machine is to the average office in supporting their work rate. Strong Vend conducted the investigation to assess the benefits of having a coffee machine in the workplace by determining to what extent drinking coffee boosts productivity and is therefore a valid investment for office managers. The research looked to assess whether coffee acts as a stimulant by monitoring the coffee consumption of participants working in a digital agency.  By conducting such a test, Strong Vend were able to determine whether the consumption of coffee actually causes perceived greater alertness, motivation and concentration which all helps to improve performance and productivity levels.

Methodology and controls

Using the employees of digital agency Cyber-Duck, Strong Vend conducted office research by prohibiting participants from drinking coffee for a week and then permitting their usual dosage of coffee the following week. In the second week, whilst participants were permitted to drink coffee, they were required to disclose how many cups of coffee they had drunk, as this data would be compared to their usual dosage. In addition to the survey, participants were asked whether their habits had changed, and any observations were documented in the final report.

Strong Vend took measures to ensure no participants consumed coffee around the office. Users were allowed to consume other substitute stimulants so that any changes to the habits and productivity could be documented.


The results of all participants over the two week testing period can be found in the infographic we created above. These results were obtained from participants rating their workday according to these factors on a 1 to 5 scale (with 5 being the maximum available).

Noteworthy observations that were made over the testing period include an increase in tea consumption around the office, consumption of energy drinks to compensate for the lack of coffee and a participant dropping out for fear he would not be able to complete his workload without coffee.


The results demonstrate that drinking coffee does affect the work rate and that regular consumption of coffee increases the motivation, mood and overall productivity in the office. The internal research further supports this as it was noted that an increasing number of participants were drinking tea or energy drinks as substitutes for their coffee, to obtain a dose of caffeine. This implies that coffee drinking employees depend on beverage and its substitutes to maintain productivity.

Further Work

This research has the potential to be extended by investigating the effects of caffeine on participants in a more scientific, rather than subjective approach. Participants could be assessed by more quantitative measures of the effects of caffeine such as reaction times, heart rate, dilatation of pupils, levels of fatigue, focus and ability to process information and correlation with insomnia. The limitations of the research carried out by Cyber-Duck lay in having to work around the digital agency operating normal working weeks.


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