Seems a silly question, doesn’t it? Yet it’s not an unreasonable conclusion to draw from the findings of some recent research. We already know various health benefits of coffee, and we know that it’s been linked with alertness and enhanced focus, but a study conducted at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, in the USA, revealed results which indicate that even the smell of coffee could have business benefits by improving staff performance.
The researchers, led by Stevens School of Business professor Adriana Madzharov, took 114 students and split them into two groups. Each group was asked to complete 10 algebra questions from the analytical section of a computer adaptive test known as the Graduate Management Adaptive Test, the GMAT. The only difference between the two groups is that one answered their questions in a room fed with the smell of coffee. The other performed their test in a room with no discernible smell.
The students in the room which smelled of coffee achieved significantly higher scores. Of course, the smell of coffee contains no caffeine – the ingredient regarded as responsible for the usual benefits of cognitive function. This suggests that there’s something of a placebo effect to the smell of coffee – that people associate the smell with being more alert and getting better results, which affects their actual performance.
In a follow-up to test that theory, the professor surveyed 200 more people – who hadn’t been involved in the first test – asking questions about their beliefs about a number of smells and whether they affected performance. It turns out that people believed they’d be more energetic and alert when surrounded by the smell of coffee, rather than when there’s no smell or if the smell was, say, floral. Professor Madzharov’s next plan is to research the effect of the smell of coffee on other types of performance; is there any reason it should affect analytical skills, like maths, any more than creative or verbal reasoning skills?
The coffee-scented boost to your business
It’s interesting stuff, and it’s yet another reason why having a good coffee machine for staff makes good commercial sense (we’ve talked about the benefits of a coffee machine in the office and highlighted the advantages of a bean-to-cup machine for businesses previously).
Because if this research is right, then when one colleague brings a delicious latte from the office bean-to-cup coffee machine, the smell alone could boost the way everyone else in the room performs. To lease a coffee machine for your business, give us a call on 0800 840 9023 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.