Why Coffee and Donuts? Facts You Should Know

Why Coffee and Donuts

You could be an iron-willed person, who’s just had an omelet and herbal tea for breakfast. Yet, once you pass that coffee and donut shop en route to work, you suddenly feel that urge to stop your car. You get out, and lovingly pick a chocolate-covered donut and your favorite latte. Why do coffee and donuts go together so well?

The quick answer is that both coffee and donuts have addictive properties. Coffee has caffeine in it, and donuts have lots of sugar. Our bodies are hard-wired to crave both of these nutrients, which makes the combo extremely enticing. Popular culture has also touted coffee and donuts as a habitual combo.

Half an hour later, you’d be at your office, indulging in the guilty pleasure of coffee and donuts. The kick you get out of this snack is undeniable, and it actually makes the day seem easier. You look around you, and at least five other coworkers are having various forms of coffee and donuts.

There’s a lot that goes into why our bodies crave sugar and caffeine as well as why coffee and donuts are a part of popular culture. Read on to get the full scoop about this!

The Science of It All

Coffee with donut

Consumer reports show that More than 50% of Americans above the age of 18 drink coffee on a daily basis. These 150 million adults, usually take 3 cups a day, on average. And 65% of all that coffee is consumed in the morning hours. Mostly with a donut.

Author Note: According to another interesting market study, 42% of all breakfasts in the US contain coffee. And along with that, about 15% come with a donut. Clearly, the connection between these two is very real and unshakable. But why coffee and donuts?

Scientists are often intrigued by such behavioral patterns. It’s always a question of whether we are ‘wired’ to crave certain substances? Or is it social priming, that sets these habits into people?

According to Gary L. Wenk, Ph.D., who is a professor of psychology, neuroscience, molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University, we’re wired for craving coffee and donuts. He explains this well in Psychology Today, and also in his book Your Brain on Food.

The neurons in our brains live on glucose, which is the simplest form of sugar. That’s how they use up energy to stay viable and communicate different signals to and from the brain. If these neurons are derived from sugar for a few minutes, they’d die.

The Survival Instinct

This survival instinct fires up a red alert when your sugar level becomes low. For example, early morning, after you’ve used up the sugar in your body while sleeping. Also, at the end of a long and exhausting day.

Stress creates a similar state of sugar depletion, so we might experience an ice cream craving after a breakup. Chocolate is known to go with frustration.

An abundance of sugar in the brain creates acetylcholine. Which is a chemical that helps in learning, focusing, coordinated-movement, and being in a good mood. Continuously adding sugar to your system and using up acetylcholine doesn’t really increase mental functionality.

Another chemical is produced along the way which is adenosine. This substance shuts down the acetylcholine flow. And one way that overrides this blockage, is taking in some caffeine. This takes care of the intrusive adenosine, and frees up the acetylcholine for more mental heavy lifting.

The caffeine-sugar combo thus seems to be the antidote to the human condition. Our brains discovered the easiest fix to drive biology to its limits. But is that correct or healthy?

Like all good things, moderation is key. A food addiction isn’t wise, but an occasional cup of coffee with a glazed donut is too good to forego.

The duet definitely comes in handy when we need to supplement our energy reserves, or to get a bit more focus on something of importance. Destressing and getting into an upbeat mood is not too bad either.

Does the Coffee and Donut Snack Help You to Perform Better?

Here’s an interesting stat about the way coffee makes people feel. Most men believe that coffee helps them to get the job done, and most women feel that it helps them to destress. It’s worth noting that the difference isn’t too drastic, and there’s plenty of overlap.

The moral of the story is that coffee is believed to enhance performance, for both men and women.

Does the sugary addition of a donut help with that? Without a doubt it does. The brain runs on pure sugar, and there are many factors that compete for a person’s sugar reserves. Stress burns plenty of sugar. Not to mention how muscle work eats up the sugar storage.

What is left then for the required brain work? Not much, and the brain automatically turns on the urge to buy that coffee and donut snack. And once it goes into the system, the newly found sugar, plus the boost of caffeine turn Clark Kent into Superman!

Is There a Downside for Consuming Coffee and Donuts?

Black coffee in a white mug and two donuts on a plate.

There is always “too  much of a good thing”. And if you keep on consuming large amounts of caffeine and sugar, you’d find that this doesn’t provide you with ever increasing energy. Actually, the deep drop after the sugar high is legendary.

The coffee and donut power duet seems to work best when you need a slight boost. If you haven’t slept for days on end, a bucket full of coffee would be helpless in front of that brain fog. And if you’ve already had five cups of Americano and a family box of assorted donuts, more of the same would only punish your stomach.

Author Note: The brain also doesn’t care too much about the rest of the body. It wouldn’t always make you choose the right things. It just wants a caffeine and sugar fix. So you might want to exercise some discipline with that rogue body part. Especially, if you have specific health and wellbeing goals.

Here are some cases where coffee and donuts have a potential downside:

  • Trying to lose weight.
  • Having health issues that would be affected by sugar or caffeine.
  • Burning the midnight oil too many nights already.
  • Having consumed a lot of sugar in a single day.
  • Eating high-calorie food more than once in this week.
  • Not doing enough physical exercise.
  • Knowing that there’s a family history with Diabetes.
  • Being prone to sugar or caffeine addiction.
  • Struggling with insomnia.

Does Any Coffee Go With Any Donut?

If you’re new to the coffee drinking world, or you just need a caffeine/sugar fix, then yes. Any coffee will be great with any donut. It’s just like with pizza, there’s no such thing as a ‘bad pizza’, except maybe for Hawaiian. Anyways, back to coffee!

For all the coffee lovers out there, most probably there’d be a favorite brown beverage, and a particular donut. A taste that really brings out the magic hidden inside the coffee cup.

In addition to the usual combos we all know and love, here are some of the best coffee-donut duets that you might want to try.

Light Roast coffee with Double Chocolate

This is easy on the coffee and heavy on the chocolate. This is certainly a mood-lifting snack. The kind that you’d order after a meeting, an exam, or a terrible date. It’s also a great late afternoon pick-me-up.

Americano and Maple Donuts

This duo sounds a bit showy, and that’s perfectly OK. Sometimes, we need a bit of glam in our lives, and if a snack would provide that, so why not?

It’s also a nice gift to that special someone. It’s a popular flavor, both on the coffee and the donut sides, but it also has charisma. An extra special something.

Dark Roast Coffee with Boston Creme Donuts

A wooden office and a high-power meeting require a drink that matches the settings. Dark roast coffee is a macho flavor, which goes nicely with the Armani, Tom Ford, and Prada suits. The Boston Creme serves class, relaxation, and joy on a platter. Another successfully closed deal!

Four sprinkle donuts and a cup of coffee

You might be wondering now what’s the most popular donut flavor in America? The result is quite predictable to some, and highly surprising to others.

Author Note: The classic glazed donut tops the list easily as the favorite flavor! It’s simple, pure, and familiar. Commonly referred to as ‘vanilla’, the sheer lack of complexity of that dessert seems to do the trick for many palates.

The next best thing, is also a straightforward uncomplicated selection. The chocolate glazed donuts are among the quickest to go in any donut box assortment.

As for matches made in heaven, if you’ve ever tried a chocolate glazed donut with a mocha latte, then you know what I’m alluring to. If you haven’t, then you might want to get that due one winter afternoon. Total bliss!

These were the hot stuff, so what about the less appealing flavors? This is actually no surprise at all. The lemon cream donuts seem to a ‘special taste’. Clearly, there are some folks who prefer it, or at least like to see it alongside the other varieties.

But the tanginess of the lemon defies the point of feeling determined, de-stressed, or happy. That’s the raison d’etre of pure sugar and chocolate donuts. The fluff and ruffles of sprinkles, creme, fancy fillings, and shape variations, is still in demand. It’s a personalized taste though.

In Conclusion

If you ever wondered before why coffee and donuts? Well, now you know the science behind it. It’s hard to resist the easy boost of energy and the mellow mood that comes with this duo. We’re all constantly overwhelmed by work and life, and these simple pleasures seem to make everything seem better.

As long as there are no good reasons to stay away from coffee and sugar, it’s totally fine to enjoy a cup with a donut occasionally. And maybe even try a few exotic combinations!

Stay caffeinated friends!

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