Want a Nobel Prize? – Drink more err Tea / Coffee

For me, this time of year is one for reflection and a slight pause when I start to consider what data I need to collect / collate so that when exam season is over, I have everything at hand for my SLT analysis. All too often, I see HoDs scrabbling round two days before a meeting with the head teacher, looking for numbers to show that boys outperform girls. Far better to collect / organise data upfront so that your analysis is a smoother, less fraught experience.

As I drank my 9th cup of coffee, my wife exclaimed that “It’ll make you ill" - or words to that effect, I retorted that “coffee makes me think better" – a statement that I’ve used before, but never really thought through. So, off to find some data.

Data on coffee consumption per capita is available all over the web – but what to use as a measure of “thinking better"? Did I mean reaction speed? Mathematical ability? Literary prowess? Then it dawned on me – how I remember those student nights sat in a kitchen, putting the world to rights – all fuelled by a cup of coffee. So, naturally the measure of “thinking better" I chose to use was the Nobel Prize.


  • Drinking more coffee increases the number of Nobel Prizes a country “wins"
  • The relationship is exponential – a small increase in coffee consumption can dramatically increase the number of Nobel Prizes

In the UK – the tea effect?

We all know tha in the UK – tea is still the beverage of choice – and indeed the UK has earned significantly more Nobel Prizes than our coffee consumption would predict. Based on coffee alone, we would expect to earn some 2 to 3 Nobels prizes per 10 Million of the population – but we achieve some 19 per 10 Million. Is this down to the excessive tea consumption of us in the UK? (The same could be said for Switzerland)


With a consumption of 12 kg/capita, Finland should be bringing home 30 Nobel Prizes per capita – but only succeed in 7 - why does coffee not work it’s magic in Finland?

The impact on education

As an educator, analysing data for SLT and my Self Evaluations, the conclusions are unclear:

  • Should we: drink more coffee to capitalise on the coffee effect seen elsewhere
  • Should we: drink less coffee and force our learners to drink tea as clearly this doesn’t apply to us
  • Should we: create a beverage PLC where we investigate the impact of drinks on outcomes
  • Should we: investigate with our family of schools the impact of poverty on coffee brand selection – does Gold Blend beat Maxwell House?
  • Should we: look for boy / girl differentials as girls are bound to drink less coffee than boys?
The impact on me

…. sorry off for a coffee.

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