Shower Coffee: An Experiment

When I say that I love coffee, I don't mean it a basic way in that I follow the flavors as they change with the season.

I drink it black, dirty even, without a trace of pumpkin spice to taint the integrity of a tenderly roasted bean. Call this level of respect camaraderie for a fellow Colombian import, or blame it on my time abroad in a country where caffeine consumption is outlined in a code of cultural chivalry. 

Coffee is a fourth language that I list on my resume as having mastered with fluency — that is until my friend, Lydia, uttered this foreign term:

Shower Coffee: Coffee consumed in the shower.

*In Lydia's opinion, the most controversial aspect of her brother's routine is that he sets his mug down in an inner corner of the shower.  

Lydia explained that Shower Coffee is a ritual that her younger brother, Liam, practices devoutly. He turns on the shower, brews a cup of coffee, and brings it inside to enjoy in the name of uber-efficiency.* 

While most would leave their follow-up questions at, "But, why?", my mind whirred, percolating a blend of amateur scientific hypotheses. 

Shove me in a locker, but I'm a bit of a nerd in the area where neuroscience and creativity intersect. Furthermore, an affinity for coffee inspired independent research on its intake and its effects on the brain where productivity is concerned.

*Note: It appears that no one knows where this expression came from, but here are two interesting theories.

It turns out that are scientifically optimized times throughout the day in which you should have your cup of Joe*. See, our bodies function on a 24-hour hormonal clock called the circadian rhythm that regulates your human instincts such as eating, sleeping, and watching Netflix.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is a main player in this cycle. Your body is naturally caffeinated when corty cort comes out to play, but becomes essentially useless when he's away. Fortunately, caffeine increases levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the happy parts of your brain to compensate for a natural dip in cortisol. That said, you want to strategically schedule your morning mug when cortisol levels are at their lowest.

According to this fun infographic from I Love Coffee, these times fall between 9:30-11:30 AM and 1:30-5:00 PM.

Wanna know another weird thing that positively affects dopamine levels? 

SHOWERS.

Are you starting to pick up what I'm puttin' down?

When you "sing" Sam Smith ballads in your personal aquatic concert venue, your mind is relaxed and distracted from that annoying thing called life that exists outside. This causes an incubation period in which your subconscious can quietly answer all of the problems eating away at your mind grapes. Jonah Lehrer, author of my one of my favorite books on creativity, 'Imagine', suggests,

For many people, it’s the most relaxing part of the day.’ It’s not until we’re being massaged by warm water, unable to check our e-mail, that we’re finally able to hear the quiet voices in the backs of our heads telling us about the insight. The answers have been there all along–we just weren’t listening.

Gently pour Shower Coffee over this vat of useless knowledge and your result is a graduate thesis in beverage pretension. I'm interested to find out what Liam's lifehack could mean in terms of creativity if coffee inhibits its power while showers boost it into overdrive.

Since I suck at actual science, I sought out the help of a 'For Dummies' manual to help me design an experiment that would be copasetic with the scientific method. Flashbacks of high school chemistry class blinded my eyes as I became reacquanted with the terms 'control', 'independent variable', and 'dependent variable'.

Testing at 9:30 AM (the time that cortisol checks out), Coffee (A cup of freshly ground Italian roast percolated in a french press), and my adorable face mug 

CONTROLS 
(The things that will remain the same throughout all trials)

Coffee sans shower, Shower sans coffee, and in an epic finale, Shower Coffee

INDEPENDENT VARIABLES
(The things that affect the outcome)

Creativity

DEPENDENT VARIABLE
(The thing that we are trying to measure)

This is where things get a little tricky. How does one measure something as abstract as creativity?  There is an official screening called the Torrence Test of Creativitybut alas, I am not Bill Nye. I am much more akin to Kanye West and can recite the words to Gold Digger with encyclopedic precision. That said, when I discovered that there was a study that measured creativity using freestyle rap, the Method (Man) to my madness was immediately iced-out in stone. 

THE EXPERIMENT

DAY 1: I will perform a ten-second freestyle rap on Snapchat (@TheOliveEye) at 9:30 AM without coffee or being inside of the shower. 

DAY 2: I will spit rhymes at 9:45 AM, fifteen minutes after diving into my morning coffee.  

DAY 3: At 9:30 AM, I will hop in the shower and freestyle once again on Snapchat. Don't get any ideas you pervs — my parents will see this, so the video will DEFINITELY be SFW.  

DAY 4: SHOWER COFFEE AT 9:45 AM.  

The key evaluates to measure the creativity of my verses will reflect those of the official study, including wordplay, rhyme, novel words, and intricacy of rhythms.

I plan to begin my experiment on Monday, May 4th, but only thing missing is material to inspire dank improvisational prose. I can't blindly suggest topics to myself, so would you mind helping a brotha' out?

Add me on Snapchat (@TheOliveEye) to receive an alert from my laboratory when I begin my trial for the day. At that time, send me any word or picture and I will randomly select one to riff on. 

Can we get jiggy with this nasty funk fo shizzle, my dizzle rizzles? 

Right. Well, I suppose I'll just go give myself a swirlie while you learn how to make an Italian espresso.

ANALYZE & DISCUSS: 

What are your initial hypotheses?
Does anyone else observe Shower Coffee?
Do I have too much free time on my hands? (Yes.)