Caffeine and Cocoa: The Keys to Success

By Alexander Pan

Researchers from Clarkson University have shown that the consumption of both cocoa and caffeine increase attention, motivation to perform cognitive work, and energy while reducing anxiety and fatigue. From a biological standpoint, the cocoa increases cerebral blood flow, which in turn increases cognitive function and attention. Although caffeine increases anxiety, the combination of the cocoa and the caffeine reduces the anxiety effects produced by the caffeine. 

In a controlled experiment, test subjects drank brewed cocoa, cocoa with caffeine, caffeine without cocoa, and a placebo, which contained neither cocoa nor caffeine. The researchers conducted tests to examine both cognitive function and mood behavior. Sample tests included the letter recognition of X’s and A’s, identification of sequential odd numbers, and timed math problems. The results underscore the benefit of drinking caffeine and cocoa in order to sustain attention in the workplace or in the classroom. Interestingly, the Hershey Company sponsored the research in order to improve their chocolate products. Now, customers can look forward to buying enhanced Hershey products to increase their productivity during the day. Researcher Boolani inquires that his next step would be to examine the effect of natural versus synthetic caffeine on cognitive function. Ultimately, such research may lead to a much happier consumer base for Hershey’s Chocolate. 


Ali Boolani, Jacob B. Lindheimer, Bryan D. Loy, Stephen Crozier, Patrick J. O’Connor. Acute effects of brewed cocoa consumption on attention, motivation to perform cognitive work and feelings of anxiety, energy and fatigue: a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover experiment. BMC Nutrition, 2017; 3 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s40795-016-0117-z

Clarkson University. (2017, March 3). A hot cup of attention tempered with chocolate, please. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 12, 2017 from