A strong cup of coffee does nothing to increase alertness in the morning, boffins have claimed.

Research in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology suggested people that routinely drink coffee and other caffeinated drinks develop a tolerance to the stimulatory effects of the drug and simply feel better because they are reversing the effects of caffeine withdrawal.

“Our study shows that we don’t gain an advantage from consuming caffeine,” Peter Rogers, who oversaw the study at the University of Bristol. “Although we feel alerted by it, this is caffeine just bringing us back to normal.”

He added: “On the other hand, while caffeine can increase anxiety, tolerance means that for most caffeine consumers this effect is negligible.”

But the British Coffee Association looked to pour cold water on the claims.

“There is an overwhelming wealth of evidence showing that caffeine does increase alertness levels by acting as a stimulant on the central nervous system by prompting the release of adrenaline," said BCA executive director Dr Euan Paul.

"This affect is not only found with subjects in a low state of alertness, such as night-time shift workers or those who wake-up early in the morning, but is additionally found in subjects who already have a high state of alertness. Further research is required to look at how the results of this new study may affect the wider population."

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