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Caffiene versus Sleep - The Showdown

Posted on: December 29, 2015     |     0 comments
Caffiene versus Sleep - The Showdown

We all know how it begins in this industry, that first coffee at work is a necessity! There's possibly been one at the house before leaving, one on the way, maybe not a hot coffee, chilled latte, frappacino? Even an energy drink. Anything to get things going after not much sleep after a busy service the night before. 


Getting home late is just an occupational hazard. Drinking in excess of 8-10 cups of coffee is too, daily. If not coffee, tea, energy drinks, draught coke. It's a vicious cycle. Get to work early without caffeine, can't function. Lack of sleep caused by too much caffeine which needs to be compensated for somehow, usually more caffeine rather than a day off and round and round we go. 


It's not always a bad thing. Chefs are creative by nature. When working a busy service, minds are trained towards putting out the best possible dishes. When the stoves flame off, imaginations fire up! "That pigeon might be better with something pickled in there, just to push the earthiness through with some acidity". It's a natural reaction, a natural curiosity but it often happens at the expense of much needed sleep. After up to 16 hours in a high heat, high pressure environment with little or no rest, sleep should be what's required but it so often falls down the list of priorities.


Then the morning rolls around and it's a case of "need coffee, make brain work" (just me?). It's almost as if there was a drug, that was safe*(ish) and legal that would allow for people to be more productive when they aren't running at 100%, caffeine would surely fit the bill. And we're hooked.


I've known chefs to come into work at 10am with a 6 pack of a well known energy drink, and be 4 down by 12 noon, not including coffee alongside.


Coffee I can understand. It's a complex, deeply personal thing to some people. Espresso, Ristretto, Cappuccino, Latte, Flat White - the usual suspects. All done by different methods, different milks at different dilutions, sugars, how many? What kind? When should the milk be added? Some peoples specific coffee orders would run out of space on a Venti cup! 


While there's no solution to what could possibly change to make the kitchen that bit happier, removing caffeine wouldn't be a viable solution, if anything it would cause chaos. Generally speaking, caffeine is almost fully absorbed after 45 minutes and the effects last for up to 6 hours peaking around the 3 hour mark, so that 6pm coffee when you're 10 hours into the day could still be lingering come midnight.


What is your method of getting through a day in the kitchen? Leave your comments below.

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