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Can the Smell of Coffee Make You More Productive?

A woman inhales the scent of coffee from a mug.

Some people can’t start their day without a cup or two of coffee. Others need it as a pick-me-up in the afternoon. But, could just the smell of coffee be all you need to be more productive?

It might just be a placebo effect, but coffee’s smell might actually work.

Coffee is a powerful stimulant. The average cup of joe has 95 milligrams of caffeine — plenty to help you “wake up” and feel energized for a few hours. But, if you’re one of those people who feel sluggish in the afternoon and you reach for another cup after lunch, smelling your coffee instead could be just as effective.

Research has shown that the smell of coffee can have a strong impact on performance. Oddly enough, the smell of coffee doesn’t really change anything in our bodies. However, we perceive that coffee gives us energy.

Smell is closely attached to memory. When you smell coffee, you think back to how it helps you wake up in the morning. Because of this, smelling coffee beans or a freshly-brewed cup can increase brain activity and make you feel energized and focused without having to take a sip.

Essentially, you’re tricking your brain into thinking you’re having something caffeinated. Doing so helps you feel more alert, which can help your productivity either at work or at home. And the great part about this placebo effect is that it works even if you fully realize you’re playing a trick on your brain.

So, the next time you’re feeling unmotivated, don’t pour yourself another cup of coffee. Instead, try smelling some coffee beans instead. You might be surprised by how energized you feel!

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