Caffeine and Creativity: Why Architects Love Coffee

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Along with black clothes, round glasses and a perpetual lack of sleep, it is one of the profession’s greatest clichés: All architects love coffee.

Now seems as good a time as any to examine our collective love (or should that be addiction?) of this ubiquitous caffeinated beverage, one that currently sits beside countless drawing boards and laptops around the world.

The question is, why are architects so partial to coffee?

Image via PhotoCeramics (on Etsy)

According to blogger Kyle Van Pelt, coffee helps make us more creative, and while his article focuses on the benefits of coffee to writers, his words can also apply to those in architectural practice. According to Van Pelt, the reason behind our love for coffee is threefold:

1. Coffee gives you initiative

“I am pretty sure all of us have experienced the energy boost coffee provides,” says Van Pelt. “It’s the reason why most of us need a cup of coffee to get going in the morning. Not only does coffee help get you moving, it helps jump-start your brain so you overcome the first hurdle to unlocking your creative juices.

Ideas are vital to creativity. I’ve found ideas breed more ideas that eventually lead to creative breakthroughs. It is hard to generate this flow of ideas without any initiative.”

2. Coffee creates commitment

Van Pelt highlights the fact that drinking coffee gives you the persistence needed to work through many iterations of an idea, reducing the chance that you will give up before you hit upon the best solution. “Fatigue is the number one killer of focus in the world … Followed closely by Facebook,” declares Van Pelt. “Coffee can’t help your social media addiction, but the caffeine steaming in your mug postpones fatigue so [you] can commit to the task at hand. For creatives, this means pushing through the stage of coming up with bad ideas … The cool thing is, enough bad ideas eventually lead to a good one.”

3. Coffee inspires confidence

Since coffee inspires you to take the initiative and be committed to the task in hand, confidence naturally follows. “The biggest barrier to boundless creativity is self-doubt. When you think your ideas are silly or stupid you stop coming up with ideas or worse, do not even start at all,” says Van Pelt. “I am not saying coffee will make you Iron Man or Wonder Woman (which would be awesome!), but you absolutely will get out of your own head enough to create some awesome ideas.”

Image via iFunny

So, there you have it: the link between coffee and creativity explained. Of course, not all clichés are so well founded. Bob Borson of Malone Maxwell Borson Architects — creator of famed blog Life of an Architect — says of coffee:

“Despite the fact that I am an architect … I am not a coffee-drinker. When my classmates in college were going on coffee runs at 2 a.m. to Captain Quackenbush’s Intergalactic Dessert Company and Espresso Cafe, I didn’t go with the group to ‘fuel up,’ and as a result, I never did develop a taste for coffee in those formative years — without painting too clear an image, my stomach just couldn’t handle it and the ramifications were [ahem] unpleasant.”

This just in: It turns out not all architects love coffee. However, don’t let Bob’s rather colorful anecdote deter you — take your favorite mug, fill it with the good stuff and raise a toast to great architecture on this special day.

Top image via Sketch book (on Pinterest)

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