TIME Diet/Nutrition

Why Your Coffee Addiction Isn’t So Bad for You

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Go ahead and pour yourself another cup

Knocking back a daily cup of joe (or several) delivers more than a jolt of energy. That morning brew comes with a host of health benefits, according to research. Here’s how coffee can benefit your body and your brain.

1. Coffee may decrease your risk of depression. Drinking four or more cups per day could decrease the risk of depression in women, according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health. The study examined the coffee habits and depression rates of 50,739 women over 10 years. Coffee drinkers had a 20 percent lower chance of developing depression later in life. Drinking two to four cups daily also appears to lower the risk of suicide by 50%, according to another Harvard study.

2. Coffee might help prevent skin cancer. Drinking four or more cups of coffee daily may lower your risk of cutaneous melanoma, the leading cause of skin-cancer death in the U.S., by 20 percent, according to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers followed nearly 450,000 cancer-free participants over 10 years. Overall, those who drank more saw less cutaneous melanoma. Four daily cups of coffee can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, according to previous studies.

3. Smelling coffee can bust stress. When rats smelled coffee beans, genes connected with healthful antioxidants and stress-reduction were activated, according to researchers from Seoul National University in South Korea. No, you’re not a rat—even if you’re in the rat race—but the stress-busting benefits may be one reason your morning latte smells so delicious.

4. Coffee might help fight obesity. A compound found in coffee, chlorogenic acid (CGA), could help ward off obesity-related diseases, according to researchers at the University of Georgia. In a study of mice, CGA prevented weight gain, reduced inflammation, helped maintain normal blood-sugar levels, and kept livers healthy. Gradually increasing your coffee consumption can also lead to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to previous research.

5. Coffee may prevent Parkinson’s disease. Men who did not drink coffee were two to three times more likely to develop the disease than men who drank four ounces to four cups per day, according to a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association. Though there are treatments to slow the progression of Parkinson’s, which targets the body’s nervous system and causes tremors, there’s no cure, so prevention is key.

6. Coffee could boost your workout. Caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which raises overall endurance, because your body doesn’t have to burn carbs so fast, The New York Times reports. Weightlifters who drank caffeine before their workouts stayed energized longer than those who did not, according to another small study.

7. Coffee may help your hearing. Regularly consuming caffeine may help prevent tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ear. Women who drank one and a half cups of coffee a day were 15% more likely to develop tinnitus than those who drank four to six cups, according to a study of 65,000 women published in the American Journal of Medicine.

8. Coffee could lead to a healthier liver. Drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee may lower liver enzymes associated with inflammation, according to a 28,000-person study conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute. Participants who drank at least three cups of coffee per day showed lower levels of the potentially harmful enzymes than those who did not drink coffee.

9. Coffee might help you live longer. Drinking two to six (or more) cups of coffee per day could lower the risk of dying by 10 percent for men and 15 percent for women, according to a study of over 200,000 men and 170,000 women (ages 50 to 71) in The New England Journal of Medicine. (The data was adjusted to discount the effects of unhealthy habits, such as smoking, since regular coffee drinkers also tended to be regular drinkers and meat-eaters.)

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

How to Roast Your Own Coffee at Home

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Follow these simple instructions on how to roast your own beans

Once you master the art of the pour-over, the next step in coffee nerdery is to start roasting your own beans. But it’s the sort of thing that can sound intimidating at first. Lots of coffee drinkers may have never even seen green, unroasted coffee beans. Others might assume you need a dedicated roasting machine that can run over $1,000. You don’t. You don’t even need to spend $30.

Coffee fiend Ruth Brown’s new book, Coffee Nerd: How to Have Your Coffee and Drink It Too, has everything you could want to know about coffee, from its history to tasting notes to which espresso drinks you should care about (and which you absolutely should not).

It also has incredibly simple instructions on how to roast your own beans using equipment you almost certainly have on hand: an oven (preferably gas) and a baking sheet.

Just beware of the coffee-roasting rabbit hole. You might turn into a fanatic. As Ruth points out, “If regular coffee nerds were Trekkies, homeroasters would be the people who write Star Trek fan fiction.”

Here’s how to do it.

Gas Oven Roasting — From Coffee Nerd

You need a small amount of green beans (1 pound typically costs between $5 and $10), a perforated baking pan (if you don’t have one, a kitchenware store or your great-aunt will) and a metal colander. You might also want to crack open a window or 10 for this—there will be smoke.

1. Preheat the oven to 500° (or 450°, if it is a convection oven).

2. Spread a single layer of beans across the pan (only the perforated part of it).

3. When the oven is ready, place the pan onto the middle shelf.

4. You should start to hear the first crack somewhere around 7 minutes (maybe more in a convection oven), and you should be able to see that the beans are turning brown.

5. Wait at least a couple more minutes, then either take the tray out (use oven mitts!) or wait a few more minutes until the beans are almost at the color you desire (they will continue to roast for a bit after you take them out, so don’t wait too long).

6. Dump the beans into your colander. Stand over a sink or go outdoors, and shake them around. This will cool them down and get rid of the chaff (the little bits of parchment that didn’t get removed at the mill), which can get pretty messy. The faster you can cool your beans off, the better.

If your interest is piqued, Ruth recommends ordering green beans from Sweet Maria’s and Roastmasters. And to find out what else she has to say about coffee, you can find Coffee Nerd here.

This article originally appeared on FWx.com.

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MONEY Fast Food

McDonald’s Restaurant Owners Want to Banish These Menu Items

A customer carries McCafe cups and a bag of food
A customer carries McCafe cups and a bag of food inside a McDonald's restaurant in Oak Brook, Illinois. Tim Boyle—Bloomberg via Getty Images

If McDonald's franchisees have their way, some coffees, wraps, and Happy Meal options will disappear from menus.

By some account, 2014 is shaping up as McDonald’s worst year in three decades. Sales in the U.S. have grown an average of 5.6% annually over the last 30 years, according to industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News, yet it looks like domestic sales will have actually declined in 2014, marking the first time this has happened over that span.

In recent years, McDonald’s has been relentless in efforts to attract new customers—younger ones especially—and they’ve been adding menu items and customization options left and right in pursuit of that goal. It’s hard to determine the degree to which these efforts have been successful. What is clear, however, is that the menu has expanded to the point that it’s slowed down operations and arguably hurt profits. McDonald’s acknowledged as much last month when the fast food giant announced it would be removing some items from the menu in 2015.

The fact that the menu has become unwieldy is not news to McDonald’s restaurant owners and managers. They’ve been complaining for years that, among other issues, there are too many seasonal items and too many dollar menu options for restaurants to keep business humming along. These are supposed to be “fast” food operations, remember, and drive-thru wait times have consistently gotten slower in recent years.

But what parts of the McDonald’s menu should be done away with? Janney Capital Markets restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski recently polled a few dozen McDonald’s franchisees about the menu items they’d most like to see disappear, and the owners—whose comments were published anonymously at Burger Business and MarketWatch—weren’t shy about voicing their opinions about the menu, as well as how the company has been doing as a whole.

“Operator morale is at the lowest I’ve seen in over 20 years,” one owner said. “Sales decreases are the new norm. Nothing exciting on the horizon. It looks like we’ll be down all year,” reads another comment. Still another chimed in:

“From an operator’s perspective, the financial future looks grim. Operations are overly complex. … A silly marketing campaign. Customers who are leaving us because even they can’t figure out what we are trying to be anymore.”

And another, specifically regarding the topic of scaling back the menu:

“Significant menu simplification is not happening as far as I can tell. Any operator could have, and many did, say that this needed to happen two years ago.”

As for specific menu items that they’d like to see targeted for termination or at least downsized, these stand out:

Happy Meal Options
Fast food kids’ meals have been bashed as unhealthy for years, and sales have fallen both because of the health factor and because ordering off the dollar menu is often a better value. To address these concerns, McDonald’s has drastically expanded Happy Meal options to include more fruits and vegetables and toy choices. At the same time, all the variations have created huge headaches for restaurants, because customers are confused and take an extra long time to place orders, and because it’s more difficult for employees to get the orders right. “Downsize Happy Meal choices,” one franchise owner said, flatly. “Happy Meals are a chore to ring up with all the options,” said another. “Perhaps corporate should make a decision on what a Happy Meal is and stop with complicating the choices.”

During the Great Recession, McDonald’s saw a big opening into the coffee market, what with the potential for consumers to scale back on pricey Starbucks while still getting their “gourmet” caffeine fix. Hence the rise of McDonald’s McCafe line, and the larger quick-serve coffee wars, which now include McDonald’s periodically giving away coffee to draw in customers. Somewhere along the line, some franchisees have come to think of McCafe items—and espresso in particular—as too time-consuming to make and not profitable enough to keep on the menu. “Eliminate espresso drinks but keep the rest of McCafé,” one owner said.

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out a few months ago, the Premium McWrap is a “showstopper” for restaurants because it comes with two choices of chicken, three options for sauces, and can’t be prepared in advance. So it’s no surprise owners would love to see this item removed from menus, or at least have the variations winnowed down significantly. “Downsize Premium McWraps down to one or two,” one owner suggested. “They take so long to make we already hope nobody orders them.”

Read next: Here’s How McDonald’s Makes Its French Fries

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

There’s Now Coffee to Help You Fall Asleep

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A new product mixes coffee with a sleep-inducing herb

Imagine brewing coffee as a nightcap. That’s what Deland Jessop says he and his wife have begun to do with Counting Sheep Coffee—a new product designed to allow coffee lovers to drink a cup before bed without being kept awake for hours.

“Instead of a glass of wine, we’ll brew up a cup of coffee instead,” said Jessop, who launched the company in 2013.

When his wife complained that she couldn’t enjoy coffee after 3 p.m., Jessop turned his home into a makeshift lab to search for a possible solution. After experimenting with a variety of herbs and supplements, he says he stumbled upon valerian—a plant that has been used as a mild sedative in Europe for centuries. He mixed it with decaf to mask the pungent smell, and sleep coffee was born.

Jessop notes that Counting Sheep Coffee is a food product, not a drug to help with sleep. Valerian is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a food ingredient.

Experts don’t know exactly why the plant such a potent sleep-inducer, but there’s little known risk of side effects (other than the obvious drowsiness), says University of California San Francisco associate professor Stephen Bent. “In the studies that have been done, it’s been show to be safe,” he says. “It has a long traditional history of being used to induce sleep.”

The product first appeared at Bed, Bath & Beyond in 2013, and is now sold in several regional supermarkets.

TIME Cancer

This Drink Could Protect You From Skin Cancer

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The sun is the biggest culprit in causing skin cancer, but there’s a beverage that may thwart some of the tumor-causing effects of ultraviolet rays

You may grab a cup (or two) of coffee every morning to help you wake up and face the day, but you may also be doing your skin a favor. Researchers in a new paper released January 20 say that coffee can protect against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Melanoma is triggered by damage to skin cells’ DNA caused by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds; these mutations prompt the cells to grow abnormally and spread to other tissues in the body, where it can be fatal. But in a report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Erikka Loftfield from the National Cancer Institute and her colleagues found that people who drank more than four cups of coffee a day on average had a 20% lower risk of developing melanoma over 10 years.

Loftfield’s group looked at food and cancer information from more than 447,000 people enrolled in a National Institutes of Health-AARP study who answered a 124-item food questionnaire and allowed the scientists access to their medical records. Even after the team adjusted for the potential effects of age, smoking, alcohol use and family history of cancer, the connection between high coffee consumption and lower risk of melanoma remained significant. The researchers even factored in the potential effect of casual sun exposure by looking at the average July ultraviolet readings where the participants lived.

The association only held for caffeinated coffee—not for decaf—and Loftfield’s group says there’s sound biological reason for that. Coffee contains numerous compounds, including polyphenols and caffeine, that keep cancer-fighting processes that are triggered by UV light under control. The roasting process of coffee beans also releases vitamin derivatives that protect against UV damage in mice. There’s also intriguing evidence that caffeine may act as a molecular sunscreen, absorbing UV rays and therefore protecting DNA from damage.

The group says that their results need to be repeated and confirmed, and that it’s too early yet to change your coffee habits to protect yourself from skin cancer. But the findings support the idea that there might be more you can do to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays than only slathering your body in sunscreen. It’s okay to enjoy a few cups of joe (as long as it’s in the shade).

Read next: This Kind of Tea Lowers Blood Pressure Naturally

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

Yes, Caffeine Withdrawal Is a Real Thing

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Science says that caffeine comes with some real perks

Ever had a time when you really needed a cup of coffee? Some days, the urge can be so strong that everything seems off until you have a hot cup of Joe in your hands.

Well, you’re not alone. Even pro athletes like Serena Williams find it hard to fight the siren call of caffeine. The tennis star made her love for coffee known during a recent match at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Western Australia.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine

Despite being the World No. 1 in women’s singles, Williams wasn’t doing too hot in her match representing the U.S. She dropped the first set 0-6 to Italy’s Flavia Pennetta.

Williams asked an official if she could order an espresso during the break between sets, SI.com reports. The request seemed silly, even to the pro herself, but the quick pick-me-up turned out to be a major game-changer.

Williams went on to dominate the next two sets 6-3 and 6-0, winning the match for the U.S. The athlete blamed a combination of jet lag and missing out on a cup of coffee as the reason for her slow start.

According to HopmanCup.com, Williams told reporters, “I am a coffee drinker. I didn’t have mine this morning and I was just feeling it, so I just had to get some coffee into me.”

HEALTH.COM: The Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast

Props to Williams for pulling off a win, but it does make you wonder just how much people really need their coffee.

“Caffeine withdrawal isn’t necessarily about addiction—it’s really more about your body adapting to having caffeine in your system, then reacting when the substance isn’t there,” says Health‘s contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. So if you’ve been a life-long coffee drinker, skipping your regular cup could bring on symptoms like headaches, fatigue, decreased alertness, and mood changes, she says.

“It’s more likely to happen if you [regularly] consume 500 milligrams of caffeine or more,” Sass says. “But it can happen with less if caffeine has been a daily habit.” Keep in mind 8 ounces of brewed coffee can have up to 200 milligrams of caffeine, Sass adds, while 1 ounce of Williams’ drink, the espresso, is on the lighter side with up to 75 milligrams.

HEALTH.COM: How to Burn Calories at Breakfast

That said, there are upsides to making coffee part of your routine, especially for athletes like Williams.

“Caffeine may help boost athletic performance by increasing muscle strength and physical endurance while decreasing feelings of fatigue,” says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Having caffeine during activity may give that second wind.”

Before big athletic events, it’s important to stick to what’s worked during your training routine, Moore says. If that means having a cup of coffee, then by all means do it.

HEALTH.COM: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

Just enjoy caffeine in moderation—Sass says the recommendation for enhancing athletic performance is up to 6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, which is about 400 milligrams per day for a 150-pound woman. And don’t use the beverage as a quick fix for fatigue when other issues like stress or diet are to blame.

“The real keys are listening to your body, and being honest with yourself about why you’re reaching for a cup of coffee (or two),” she says.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: The Science Behind Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee

MONEY Fast Food

Fast Food Is Going to War Over These Three Menu Items

Burger King, Las Vegas airport, Nevada
Kumar Sriskandan—Alamy

Chicken nugget deals are incredibly cheap at fast food restaurants right now, and coffee promotions are cheaper still. Competition over breakfast sandwiches is white hot too.

Fast food’s biggest players will always compete over burgers, low-price value menu deals, and limited-time-only items that pop up seasonally. (Speaking of which, it’s getting close to Shamrock Shake time at McDonald’s.) Lately, though, the competition has gotten particularly focused, and particularly tough, concerning these three menu categories.

Chicken Nuggets
This week, Burger King kicked off a fierce nugget competition, offering a 10-piece chicken nugget order for just $1.49, roughly half the usual menu price. Or rather, it reintroduced the deal, which it also launched onto the scene for a limited period last fall. At the time, Burger King described the 15¢ nugget promotion “an aggressive deal rivaling anything our competition has ever done.”

That competition notably includes McDonald’s, which periodically offers a promotional deal at most locations of 20 nuggets for $4.99 and 50 for $9.99. The latter breaks down to a cost of 20¢ per nugget.

(NOTE: 20-piece and 50-piece nugget orders are intended to be shared, not consumed by a single customer in one sitting. One 40-year-old Daily Beast writer can attest to this after voluntarily taking on the highly inadvisable, 2,375-calorie challenge of eating 50 McDonald’s nuggets by himself. Inevitably, the task involved a run for the bathroom mid-challenge, perhaps because “digestive enzymes may be making me hallucinate, or maybe the salt and fat overload is draining my endorphins dry.”)

Most fast-food promotional offers are created with the purpose of driving traffic into restaurants early and often. So it especially makes sense for quick-serve restaurants to pump up promotions on items that customers crave at all hours of the day. In today’s world, there’s no better item than coffee, which people will drink morning, afternoon, and night, and which comes with the added bonus of being pretty darn cheap to brew. Hence, the ongoing free coffee promotions at McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts dueling for customers in certain parts of the country.

Coffee deals are hot right now at convenience stores for largely the same reasons: They draw in customers, which is a much tougher sell in the winter because it’s cold and folks tend to want to stay home or at least not get out of their cars. Cumberland Farms, for instance, is heavily promoting its coffee, which sells for 99¢ in any size, while 7-Eleven has a changing roster of deals including two donuts and a coffee for $2 and buy six coffees and the seventh is free for customers using its app.

Breakfast Sandwiches
The battle for fast food breakfast customers got heated in early 2014 with the introduction of Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco, and it hasn’t really cooled off. A big reason why fast food giants are duking it out over breakfast with particular ferocity is that for years breakfast has been the only meal time that has experienced regular growth at quick-serve restaurants, which offer convenient, on-the-go foods to help on-the-go Americans start their day.

This is why Taco Bell jumped into the breakfast scene nationally last year, and why other players such as Chick-fil-A, Taco John’s, and White Castle expanded or began exploring breakfast menus too. In almost all cases, breakfast items focus on the sandwich because it is hand-held and can be eaten easily behind the wheel—a feature that’s especially important during breakfast hours, when the typical customer is trying to get somewhere while fueling up for the day. The latest entrant into the breakfast sandwich wars is the French Toaster, an egg-cheese-and-meat mix bookended by two pieces of French toast from Sonic. A MarketWatch story declared that “the new battleground in the world of fast food is the breakfast sandwich,” and that the portability of the French Toaster and other breakfast sandwiches is essential for their success.

TIME Food & Drink

The Science Behind Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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2012 U.S. Barista Champion Katie Carguilo spills the beans on her choice method

The Right Equipment
Carguilo likes the clean, robust taste that comes from a manual dripper, since it filters out oil and sediment. And she’s not alone. As basic as it is, the pour-over has become the latest thing at gourmet coffee shops. Cone-shaped drippers work fine, but Carguilo prefers the flat base of the Kalita Wave (shown at right, $38; filters, $13 for 100). “The grounds lie evenly, so the water saturates them equally,” says Carguilo.

The Right Water
If you don’t like the flavor of your tap water, use filtered or bottled.

Fresh Grounds
Grind beans within a half hour of brewing. A burr grinder is ideal but pricey ($50 or more). It creates uniform grounds and prevents the coffee from ending up too weak or too bitter. For a manual dripper, medium size (similar to raw sugar granules) is best. (Learn how to choose the best gourmet coffee beans.)

Magic Ratio
To brew 16 ounces of coffee (two big cups), use 5 tablespoons (or 28 grams) of coffee and 16 ounces of water.

Master the Pour-Over
Total brew time: 3 to 5 minutes

1. As your kettle heats, place a dripper lined with a paper filter on a mug or a carafe. Rinse the filter with hot water to get rid of paper dust and to preheat the cone.

2. Place ground coffee in the dampened filter.

3. After the water boils, wait 10 seconds for it to settle. Slowly pour just enough hot water (in a circular motion) to saturate all the grounds.

4. Pause 30 seconds to let the coffee “bloom.” It will bubble and soften.

5. Pour again, raising the water level to an inch above the grounds. Wait a few moments until
the water trickles through the dripper. Repeat this process of “pulse pouring,” which helps prevent overflow, until you have your desired amount of brewed coffee.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME advice

How to Master the ‘Coffee Interview’

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Whether you’re seeking advice or giving it, you’re probably no stranger to the question “Can I take you for coffee and pick your brain?” Here, some rules for handling informational one-on-ones considerately, efficiently, and with aplomb

Be specific.
When you e-mail people for coffee, let them know exactly how they can help. “Don’t mass e-mail everyone you can think of,” says Tara Goodfellow, the managing director of Athena Educational Consultants and a former career-development instructor. “That’s like sending a letter that says, ‘To the current resident of…’ ” You might ask for, say, an objective review of your résumé or information about changing departments within your shared industry. You might want to hear about a particular person’s career path or his or her company. Don’t ask for a job (though you might well be looking for one). Meetings like this are for sharing information and establishing a connection.

Make it easy for the other person to say yes.
Suggest a location near his or her office. Indicate that you won’t take up a lot of time. Most experts agree that 30 minutes is reasonable. Holly Wolf, the chief marketing officer of Conestoga Bank, says that she appreciates being presented with a few possible dates and times. That way, she doesn’t have to think too much about scheduling.

Mind your manners.
Just because it’s coffee doesn’t mean it’s casual. “Don’t arrive looking like you just came from the gym,” says Wolf. “The less well you know me, the more professionally you should dress.” Order something simple so you can focus on the conversation, says James N. Kinney, the founder of Kinney Group Creative. “Let the other person get the double-foam mess.” And at least attempt to pay for both drinks, even though the more senior person will often pick up the tab. Send a hand-written thank-you note right away. Says Wolf: “E-mail is OK. Handwritten? I’m over the moon.”

Listen more than you talk.
In advance, research your coffee-mate and his or her company. “Don’t ask anything you can discover online,” says Goodfellow. You’re there to glean wisdom, not to sell yourself, so pay attention and relax.

If you’re on the other side of the Starbucks table.
Are you the busy professional with little time for chitchat whom people turn to for coffee-fueled advice? You could probably use some tips, too. Even if you enjoy helping others, these sessions can sometimes feel fruitless or even irritating, as they burn through precious time. Increase their chances of success by being selective and asking for a little advance work. Before committing to coffee, lawyer Nina Ries, of the Ries Law Group, looks for a commonality (friend, alma mater), considers whether or not she has meaningful insights to offer, then passes the ball back with the question, “How do you think I might be able to help you?” This forces the asker to focus her request (just in case she hasn’t read this article).

Similarly, Leigh Steere, a cofounder of the research and consulting firm Managing People Better, asks for a few sentences describing the topics people want to explore. Gabe Lozano, the CEO and a cofounder of the social-media platform LockerDome, doesn’t mess around. He gauges seriousness by offering a specific 30-minute slot either late at night (8 to 11 p.m.) or early on a weekend morning (before 9 a.m.). “If they don’t take it, I assume it’s not an important meeting for them,” says Lozano. You can also protect your time by instead offering a 15-minute phone call or virtual meeting (via Skype, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, or WebEx).

If you’re a person who just can’t say no (or who likes a good system), designate a specific slot—say, the first Tuesday morning of each month—for coffee meetings. Schedule sessions only at this time, and when it fills up, offer meetings for the following month.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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MONEY freebies

Free Coffee on Mondays at McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts

McCafe coffee
Mark Lennihan—AP

Case of the Mondays? At least there's free coffee to perk up your day.

In select parts of the country, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts are trying to draw in customers and boost business by promising a free caffeine fix on the dreariest day of the work week. Both fast food chains have kicked off the new year with promotions giving away free coffee on Mondays. They’re limited-time offers, and the deal isn’t available in all markets, but in the case of many McDonald’s locations, customers can expect free coffee every single Monday throughout the entirety of 2015.

For instance, McDonald’s restaurants in the greater Washington, D.C., region, which includes parts of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia, are giving away one free small coffee per customer—hot or iced, no purchase required, even for drive-thru visits—on every Monday this year. A spokesperson for McDonald’s told us the company is aware of locations in the following areas that are giving away free coffee on Mondays:

Washington, D.C.
Johnstown-Altoona, Pennsylvania
Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Virginia
Indianapolis/Lafayette, Indiana
South Bend/Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Cincinnati, Ohio
Austin, Texas

Each region determines the particulars of its coffee giveaway, and not all are making the promotion available for a full 12 months. In central Indiana, for instance, free coffee Mondays extend only through June 1.

And why isn’t the free coffee promotion available nationwide, like McDonald’s did for two-week stints a couple of times in 2014? Apparently McDonald’s in many parts of the country feel like it’s not in their best interests to give away coffee. “The markets determine what is best for their customers and customize their offers accordingly,” the McDonald’s spokesperson explained.

Likewise, Dunkin’ Donuts appears to be strategically limiting its coffee giveaway to areas where business could use a bump locally—specifically, the Midwest. Understandably, customers in the Northeast, where DD blankets the landscape, are out of luck and must continue paying for their coffee.

A representative for Dunkin’ Donuts confirmed that, among other locations, DDs in the following cities are giving away one free coffee per customer on Mondays, through January 19 only:

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa
Topeka, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Rochester, Minnesota
Kansas City, Missouri
Lincoln, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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