Is It Healthy to Study in Bed?

Is It Healthy to Study in Bed?
Photo: iStock

With extracurriculars, academics and a social life to maintain, goal-oriented students have to squeeze time from their hectic schedules to get homework done. The result? Lots of studying, writing and reading happens while lying or lounging in bed. Though many parents insist children study only at a desk, they may be surprised to hear what experts think about where and when it’s best to review and learn. We gathered informed opinions from experts in education psychology, sleep medicine and ergonomics.

Doing the Homework

As a debate about homework escalates nationwide, a perhaps less-discussed issue is where this home-studying takes place. Among those who recognize that much of it happens in bed are industrial engineers and furniture designers. Over the years they have come up with across-the-bed tables that angle laptops for proper typing, reading pillows that cradle the neck, back and arms, even hard-sided lap pillows for resting a laptop on.

These can all help bed-studiers be more comfortable. However, Atul Malhotra, a physician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, with a focus on sleep medicine, notes: “Lying down or sitting upright doesn’t impact your brain function—your posture doesn’t matter.”

The only widely known study specifically on students doing homework in bed versus at a desk was published in May 1968. Of the 100 or so college students they surveyed—admittedly at a time when studying was quite different than the screen-based work now—the researchers at the University of California, Davis, found no difference in grade-point average between those who worked at their desk and those who studied in bed.

“The assumption that there is a single type of study environment optimal for all students appears unwarranted,” the authors concluded.

One concern is that being cozy in bed typically brings on sleepiness, which may compromise a student’s ability to retain information, says Harris Cooper, a social psychologist with a specialty in education at Duke University. But he adds that figuring out how you learn and study most effectively at a young age isn’t a bad thing.

“If they are getting their work done and it is of quality, then knowing what environments work for them will prepare them to be lifelong learners in various locations,” Dr. Cooper says. The professor of psychology and neuroscience suggests parents and students track progress over time to see if they are, indeed, producing as good work in bed as at a desk.

Losing the Last Page

When someone reads a book just before falling asleep, and puts the bookmark on page 89, it’s common not to recall in the morning what happened on page 88, Dr. Malhotra says.

“That which happened right before you sleep doesn’t register, so many people have to re-read page 88—but they will remember page 87,” he says. He doesn’t take issue with one of his daughters who studies in bed with music on. But he suggests that anyone who does homework on the comforter at night go back a few pages or at least 10 minutes’ worth of work in the morning and redo and review it. Also, if you have to read and retain something important, don’t read it just before sleeping, as the few minutes just before sleep aren’t optimal for memory retention.

“Read it, then brush your teeth, then go to sleep,” he says. He also doesn’t mind a little morning lie-in coupled with studying. “You’re often free from distractions in bed in the morning, before the day’s chaos begins,” he says. If you find comfort in bed when the sun comes up, that might be a good opportunity to learn and retain new information.

Getting to Neutral

Standing with arms relaxed at your side is considered the “neutral” posture, with no stress put on any particular part of your body, says ergonomics specialist Janice Fletcher at UC San Diego Health, an academic medical center.

She makes sure people get close to neutral while working at their desks, adjusting keyboards so that the elbows are slightly wider than at right angles, and wrists are either straight or slightly bent downward, “never flexed in the ‘tell it to the hand’ position,” she says. She also places monitors so the neck is neither flexed nor extended. Perhaps surprisingly, the second-most neutral posture is lying in bed flat on your back, though not much studying can be accomplished in that position, she admits.

Ms. Fletcher is fine with people studying in bed, though she suggests that rather than just plopping onto a mattress to do homework, students should plan a little.

The best posture for reading in bed, she says, is sitting up with your back against the headboard and pillows under your arms to raise the reading material to eye level.

“That way you don’t have to bend your neck to view the book or device,” she says. Find a flat surface for writing or supporting a computer on your lap, and use a soft light to prevent a glare that may harm the eyes. For homework involving lots of paper and books, a desk might be a better choice, but bed-studying can be done effectively. “Make yourself as neutral as possible” by sitting similarly to the way you would if you were at a desk, with the help of cushioning, she says.

“If you’re at neutral, you’re more comfortable,” Ms. Fletcher says, “and I would guess you’d be less distracted because you wouldn’t be thinking about your discomfort.”

‘We Just Need to Create a Moment’: Art Market Looks to L.A.

Cayetano Ferrer, ‘End Credits on Hollywood.’ The arrival of Frieze Los Angeles this week is stirring up L.A.’s ambitions to become a global art-market hub like New York, London and Hong Kong.
Cayetano Ferrer, ‘End Credits on Hollywood.’ The arrival of Frieze Los Angeles this week is stirring up L.A.’s ambitions to become a global art-market hub like New York, London and Hong Kong. Photo: Cayetano Ferrer/Hammer Museum/LAXART

Is Los Angeles ready for its art market close-up?

A new contemporary-art fair, Frieze Los Angeles, kicks off Thursday on a movie studio’s back lot, and its arrival is stirring up the city’s ambitions to become a global art-market hub like New York, London and Hong Kong.

Los Angeles has been building a thriving art scene for decades, yet it lacks elements that tend to define the world’s blue-chip marketplaces—like a centralized gallery district and a clearly defined art season with high-profile, internationally followed auctions.

Nevertheless, Los Angeles’s art scene continues to mushroom: Between 2010 and 2017, art-related jobs in Los Angeles County grew 32%, outpacing New York, according to a newly published study on the creative economy commissioned by the Otis College of Art and Design.

Mike Kelley’s ‘Unisex Love Nest,’ which Hauser & Wirth will show during Frieze, has been tucked away in a European collection since it was created in 1999.
Mike Kelley’s ‘Unisex Love Nest,’ which Hauser & Wirth will show during Frieze, has been tucked away in a European collection since it was created in 1999. Photo: © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts/Hauser & Wirth

The purchasing clout of Los Angeles’s collectors is also climbing. Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, said the West Coast and particularly Los Angeles has been the house’s third-biggest source of new clients—after mainland China—for the past three years running. Sotheby’s West Coast chairman Thomas Bompard said twice as many $5 million-plus artworks were sold to Los Angeles collectors last year compared with the previous one. Buyers there, he said, are getting more comfortable competing in the “big game.”

The addition of a well-known franchise like Frieze is the latest sign of the city’s ascent, market watchers said. “Los Angeles has never had that choke-point week where the auction houses and galleries get the art world’s undivided attention, and we sell big,” said Muys Snijders, U.S. head of postwar and contemporary art for Bonhams, which does hold auctions in the city. “We’re clearly looking to see if Frieze L.A. could become that pinnacle.”

Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze Fairs, said Los Angeles is overdue to claim its own slot in the event-driven, international art calendar, and when she and her team started thinking of expanding to the city a few years ago, they saw that this week in mid-February was relatively clear.

“We’re not pioneers,” Ms. Siddall said. “L.A. has an extremely strong art scene—we just need to create a moment to get everyone there at the same time.”

Works like Irving Marcus’s ‘Fifty Years Ago’ will be on view at Parker Gallery as part of Frieze.
Works like Irving Marcus’s ‘Fifty Years Ago’ will be on view at Parker Gallery as part of Frieze. Photo: Irving Marcus/PARKER GALLERY

Other fairs like Paris Photo Los Angeles have come and gone from the city over the years, unable to gain enough traction to continue. Local dealer Sarah Watson with the Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery said she thinks other fairs, in Goldilocks fashion, opened with too many or too few galleries.

With 70 galleries and a four-day sales window, she said, “Frieze feels just right.”

Nearly half of the galleries in the inaugural edition are from Greater Los Angeles. Local dealer David Kordansky plans to show paintings and wry sculptures that Kathryn Andrews created after she bought several film props, including a long, mercurial finger wielded by the villain in the “Terminator” movies. Parker Gallery, which opened two years ago in a Tudor-style house in the Los Feliz neighborhood, plans to show several brightly colored paintings by Sacramento artist Irving Marcus, who is 89 years old.

Several international galleries with local outposts like Hauser & Wirth are bringing pieces by Los Angeles’s hometown icons like Mike Kelley, whose $1.8 million bed installation, “Unisex Love Nest,” has been tucked away in a European collection since it was created 20 years ago, said Marc Payot, gallery partner and vice president.

Kathryn Andrews, ‘T-1000,’ (2019)
Kathryn Andrews, ‘T-1000,’ (2019) Photo: Kathryn Andrews/David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

The Frieze tent, designed by Thai architect Kulapat Yantrasast, will be set up beside the back lot of Paramount Pictures Studios. Visitors will be invited to wander a few blocks of New York street sets on the back lot nearby, encountering artworks along the way. The artist Lisa Anne Auerbach has tasked an artist-actor with the role of “Psychic Art Advisor,” doling out collecting advice from one of the mock brownstones, said fair curator Ali Subotnick, previously at the Hammer Museum.

Karon Davis, co-founder of the city’s hip Underground Museum, plans to place her white sculptures of children around the set of a school. Some of the figures in her installation, “Game,” sport antlers, a nod to the way school shootings have left some children feeling hunted, Ms, Subotnick said. The fair runs through Sunday.

Lisa Anne Auerbach’s ‘Psychic Center of Los Angeles’
Lisa Anne Auerbach’s ‘Psychic Center of Los Angeles’ Photo: Lisa Anne Auerbach/Gavlak, Los Angeles, Palm Beach

Museums around town are showing support by holding cocktail events for VIPs and walk-throughs of their new exhibits, some of which just opened. These include the Hammer’s retrospective of Los Angeles conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg and the Marciano Art Foundation’s show of Glenn Ligon’s searing wordplay work. At least two additional fairs are also opening in tandem with Frieze—a local mainstay that shifted its dates to open in step, Art Los Angeles Contemporary, and a smaller, new fair called Felix LA, co-created by the collector Dean Valentine.

For all the talk of wrangling the broader art world’s attention, Austrian dealer Thaddaeus Ropac, who is showing at Frieze, cautioned that the fair’s long-term success won’t likely hinge on convincing the same set of international collectors to keep flying back year over year.

Karon Davis, detail from ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people...and neither does Trump’ (2018)
Karon Davis, detail from ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people…and neither does Trump’ (2018) Photo: Karon Davis/Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles

“The Europeans will come at the beginning, but they won’t always come,” he said.

Hamza Walker, executive director of the nonprofit art space LAXART who is overseeing a series of artist talks at Frieze, said the true test will be if Frieze can cultivate more collectors from the industry that is this city’s lifeblood.

“When museums have galas, Hollywood is in the house,” Mr. Walker said. “But we need the fleet of producers, directors and lawyers buying contemporary art—they’re the real money in this town.”

Write to Kelly Crow at kelly.crow@wsj.com

Hawaii’s Big Island By Bike: A Heart-Racing, Spectacularly Scenic Trip

Mauna Kea in winter, as seen from Kohala Mountain Road, where the author ended his five-day cycling trip.
Mauna Kea in winter, as seen from Kohala Mountain Road, where the author ended his five-day cycling trip. Photo: James Sturz

HERE’S WHAT happened in 2018: My wife and I built a house in Hawaii and I brought my bicycle from New York with the intent of circumnavigating the Big Island. Then, for 125 straight days from May to September, Kilauea Volcano spilled and shot lava from two dozen fissures, covering 13.7 square miles of land and more than 700 homes, while filling the air with vog (volcanic smog) and the roads with lava rocks and ash. I put the ride on hold.

Kilauea eventually quieted, the skies turned blue, and in November my friend Bart came from San Francisco and we got on our bikes. I’d mapped the route at 264 miles. Knowing the hills, we didn’t want to carry too much gear—the Big Island is the U.S.’s largest, nearly the size of Connecticut, but with mountains.

We found seat bags just large enough for an extra jersey, post-ride clothes, flip-flops, toiletries, tools, spare inner tubes and CO2 cartridges. Anything extra went in our jerseys’ pockets. I mounted a miniature air pump on my bike’s frame. Finally we took our phones, loaded with apps that might be useful for finding rooms en route. Cyclists call this “credit-card touring.” We planned four nights.

Riding through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Riding through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Photo: Alamy

We took off in the morning from Kapa’au in the very north, heading around the island counterclockwise to keep on the ocean-side of the road and take advantage of favorable winds. Cattle grazed the lush hillsides of North Kohala; to our right was always coast. The two-lane highway has always been one of my favorites; it’s named after Akoni Pule, the state legislator who pushed for its creation and who so loved the Hawaiian House of Representatives that for the one term he wasn’t re-elected in the 1950s he worked as its janitor instead.

Relief In Sight

The air grew hotter as we rounded the Kohala and Kona coasts on the island’s west side, and dark-brown lava fields flanked us. Our first real break, after 25 miles, came when we spotted a man selling coconuts and pineapples from his pickup. The temperature was in the high 90s, and we felt it as soon as we stopped. We’d been adding electrolyte tablets to our water bottles, but the local stuff was tastier and cold. Once we finished drinking, he scooped the coconut meat into Ziploc bags. Stuffed into our jersey pockets, they gave our backs a chill.

Our first two flats came shortly afterward, as we passed the island’s resorts. The road is part of the 112-mile loop Ironman triathletes bike each October, and the island’s most trafficked route. As we approached Kailua-Kona, we passed a group of Ultraman runners who had cycled 171.4 miles the day before, and now were completing double marathons. Properly chastened, having only cycled 63 miles ourselves, we checked into the Sheraton in Keauhou just before dusk. We unwound at its outdoor restaurant and watched manta rays somersaulting at the ocean’s surface.

Day 2 Begins

The second day was harder, with steep climbs in full sun. Each time I took my helmet off, sweat trickled from it. We stopped to chat with other cyclists—a couple from Salt Lake City circling the island, and ones from Lake Tahoe and Toronto out for the day. After lunch at a fruit stand in Captain Cook amid South Kona’s tropical lushness, we pedaled past coffee orchards, where the aroma of roasting beans impregnated the air.

Hilo Bay on the island’s east coast.
Hilo Bay on the island’s east coast. Photo: Alamy

The shoulders had been narrow and gravelly for much of the morning, but we hit wider, new asphalt as we entered Ka’u, Hawaii’s largest district and, being mostly desert, among its least populous. After a day climbing over 53 miles, we zipped downhill for the last 6.5 miles from Waiohinu to Naalehu, the southernmost community in the U.S. The grasses and trees we passed were blindingly green in the afternoon sun.

Our Airbnb that night had a washer and dryer, nearly as welcome as the shower and beds. Day 3 started with a climb up Cane Haul Road, a remnant of the days when sugar cane was a thriving industry in Hawaii. The trip’s most beautiful ride, it was 13 miles up and down, past rolling hills, forested cinder cones, cattle, horses, sheep, saffron finches (imagine sticks of butter darting through the air), and cane grass arching over the road. To one side lay the vast ocean; to the other, Mauna Loa, looming at 13,678 feet.

The day took us to Volcano Village, up more hills, the hardest so far. Our third flat came just before the national park, where the perils turned out to be kiawe thorns, not lava bombs. We had lost our bike pump along the way, so Bart limped the last 7 miles on a squishy tire. Road workers repairing earthquake and eruption damage flashed us shakas, the classically Hawaiian gesture to hang loose. By the time we pulled into our next Airbnb, we’d covered 42 miles, and cycled through temperatures from 93 to 55 degrees. We stowed our bikes and went to dinner on foot, amid tree ferns as tall as houses.

A Deflating Twist
The author (right) at a fruit stand in South Kohala.
The author (right) at a fruit stand in South Kohala. Photo: James Sturz

The morning was all downhill: first, literally—a 6-mile descent at 30-plus mph with nary a pedal—and then, figuratively, when it was my turn for a flat. I went the next 11 miles with a problematically pillowy back tire, until the kindness of pump-owning strangers saved me.

At Hilo, we bought a new pump and tubes and breakfasted at a diner where the eggs and hash browns came with seared ahi tuna. For the rest of the day we shared the road with tulip-tree blossoms, fallen lauhala fruits and a few wild pigs and chickens, to Honoka’a, 69.5 miles from where we’d begun that morning.

Our final day would be our shortest, its sole real challenge crossing Kohala Mountain, the only of Hawaii’s five volcanoes that’s extinct. Unlike the other volcanoes that tower above the clouds or bake in the island’s heat, it’s covered by verdant pastures, home to many of Hawaii’s ranches.

Back in North Kohala, where we’d started, we crested the mountain at 3,564 feet. The way down was pure icing. My bike’s computer showed I hit 44 mph—the fastest I’d ever gone.

RIDE THE WAVE / How To Plan Your Own Two-Wheeled Tour of the Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island By Bike: A Heart-Racing, Spectacularly Scenic Trip
Illustration: Jordan Carter
Guided Cycling Trips

Backroads and Lifecycle Adventures offer organized escorted or personalized multiday tours (backroads.com, lifecycleadventures.com). Big Island Bike Tours arranges multiday, full-day or half-day excursions (bigislandbiketours.com). If you’re looking for a little company, Bikeworks in Waikoloa and Kailua-Kona organize up to a half-dozen weekly road and mountain bike group rides on the island’s west side, attracting as many as 70 cyclists on weekends (bikeworkskona.com/event-calendar). Looking for something faster? The Hawaii Cycling Club runs its own weekly Kailua-Kona ride, but is also a hub for information about the island’s annual road races, with annual or daily membership options (hawaiicyclingclub.com). Looking for something harder? Check TriFind, if you prefer your cycling sandwiched between swimming and running (trifind.com).

Bicycle Rentals

If you’d rather go it alone, Bikeworks in Kailua-Kona, Bike Works Beach & Sport in Waikoloa Beach Village and Mountain Road Cycles in Waimea all rent road bikes, and sell tools and gear as well. You can, for instance, rent a 2018 carbon-fiber Scott Addict 30 Disc bike from Mountain Road Cycles for 5 days for $150 (bikeworkskona.com, bikeworkshawaii.com, mountainroadcycles.com). Hilo Bike Hub in Hilo sells gear and performs repairs (hilobikehub.com).

More in Off Duty Travel

We Tried 50 Texting Gloves. Here are the Best Pairs

We Tried 50 Texting Gloves. Here are the Best Pairs
Illustration: Victoria Tentler-Krylov

IN 2007, when Apple unleashed its touch-screen wonderbox, users in winter climes soon learned that trying to type on an iPhone while gloved was futile. The only option was to remove your mitts and risk full-on finger freeze as you pecked out “Be there soon.”

It wasn’t long before glove companies discovered that by using technology, including conductive yarns, they could theoretically help avid texters avoid this bone-chilling ritual. Today, you can find rugged, ski-slope-ready texting gloves from North Face and Marmot; cozy knitted versions from Ralph Lauren and Uniqlo; and chichi leather texters from startups like Kent Wang and Evolg. All of them claim to work perfectly. Many unfortunately do not.

When Yale Buchwald’s mother gave him a pair of Lord and Taylor leather texting gloves for Hanukkah a few years ago, the New York creative strategy apprentice, now 21, excitedly considered the possibilities. He could, he marveled, order an Uber on a December night without wincing in pain. Or not. “They never worked well,” he said. Though he still wears the gloves, he’s given up on trying to type in them: He goes gloveless when it’s time to check Google Maps for the nearest subway station.

Cameron Wilson, 28, a logistics coordinator in Seattle, has been similarly unimpressed by the many pairs of smart gloves he’s staked his hopes on over recent winters. “Nothing was really good and nothing was really warm,” he said. Warmth is a persistent issue: With cozily thick texting gloves, you might as well be smashing a foam finger against your screen; more effective alternatives suffer from wispiness. Today, he employs an old-fashioned alternative: toasty mittens with a flap that he pulls back to reveal his bare fingers when he needs to, say, fire off a text.

Unready to adopt such a defeatist attitude, I recently tested 50 touch screen gloves over a near-freezing New York weekend, taking note of typing efficacy, warmth and fit. The best smart gloves allowed for breezy email answering, while the worst barely registered a click (as I made my notes on the weaker performers, I continually had to take them off). Most of them ranked somewhere in between, functioning adequately but leading me to give thanks for auto-correct, however imperfect it is.

Along the way I learned that knitted gloves tend to be slippery; many brands have added rubber nubs to the palm and fingers to prevent screen-cracking phone fumbles. Finding a snug fit gets tricky with stiff leather gloves, particularly in the crucial fingertip area: When I tested a problematically roomy pair, my attempt to type “goodbye” produced “ground pie.” And no matter what kind of technology brands like North Face or Marmot advertise, most bulky, ski-type gloves are terrible for texting. Smart gloves are best suited for brief bouts of outdoor typing, not whole afternoons spent on the bleachers watching football while trying to keep up with a group chat. Still, in my testing, a few winners emerged. Here are the five premier app-allowing, message-massaging, email-answering and warm gloves that we endorse.

THE PURSUIT OF GLOVE / The Pluses (And a Few Minuses) of the Superior Pairs We Tested
We Tried 50 Texting Gloves. Here are the Best Pairs
Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

The Supple Slip-Ons

L.L. Bean Sweater Fleece

Gloves, $25, llbean.com

+ These marled gloves were the softest on the inside. With a thick, inviting layer of plush fleece, they’re like a toasty sweater for your hands.

The lining does make them a bit denser and therefore harder to wrap around the sides of your phone.

We Tried 50 Texting Gloves. Here are the Best Pairs
Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

The Skier’s Delight

Columbia Ascender

Gloves, $35, columbia.com

+ Of all the thick-shelled poly sporting gloves, these were the easiest to type with, boasting digits that taper to a dexterous tip.

The harder shell makes it tougher to maneuver (no rapid-fire emailing; you’ll type slowly) and is more appropriate, stylewise, for an Aspen slope than a stroll through the city.

We Tried 50 Texting Gloves. Here are the Best Pairs
Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

The Handsome Hand-Savers

Evolg Leather-Fabric Mix

Gloves, $150, evolgglove.com

+ Japanese brand Evolg has pulled off a rare feat: By blending a checked British-esque wool with sleek black leather, it made touch screen gloves that look as dressy as traditional ones. Office-appropriate.

The leather was still a bit slick which made using my phone while walking a challenge.

We Tried 50 Texting Gloves. Here are the Best Pairs
Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

The Barely-There Pair

Mack Weldon Swipe

Gloves, $28, mackweldon.com

+ These gloves from a New York-based startup are crafted from a lightweight silk-blend fabric for a fit that gets incredibly close to the hand. It’s like texting with no gloves at all.

They’re thin, so beware. If it’s anywhere near freezing, grab something more substantial.

We Tried 50 Texting Gloves. Here are the Best Pairs
Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

The All-Around Neat Knit

Moshi Digits

Gloves, $30, moshi.com

+ The gloves by these smart-accessory specialists, in business for 14 years, feature neat waves of rubber dots and stripes along the palm and fingers that keep your phone from slipping to its doom.

The fluffy liner, while warming, adds bulk which ups the number of dreaded “fat finger” typos.

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

Write to Jacob Gallagher at Jacob.Gallagher@wsj.com

More in Style & Fashion

Freezing Your Coffee Beans? The Experts Say You’re Doing It All Wrong

Barista Tilly Sproule removes a vial of coffee beans from dry ice during Australia's top coffee competition.
Barista Tilly Sproule removes a vial of coffee beans from dry ice during Australia’s top coffee competition. Photo: Mike Cherney/The Wall Street Journal

MELBOURNE, Australia—Just before the final round of Australia’s top coffee competition, barista Tilly Sproule stocked up on a crucial ingredient. She bought nearly 20 pounds of dry ice.

She packed the ice into a box, divvied up her coffee beans into small plastic vials and inserted the tubes into the ice. Her goal was to chill her beans to below zero. She wanted them so brittle they would grind more evenly than at room temperature. It was vital, she said, to making an incredible cup of joe.

“Backstage is hilarious,” Ms. Sproule said. “There’s like five or six freezers, I think. Everyone’s on the bandwagon.”

Cool beans
Cool beans

Forget about cold brew. The latest buzz in the caffeine universe is really, really cold beans.

It isn’t just about getting a better grind. Some cafes are freezing their best beans so they’ll last months or even years—far beyond the couple of weeks that roasted beans typically taste their best. Frozen-bean advocates imagine a day when coffee aficionados can behave like wine connoisseurs, poring over long coffee menus to sample numerous vintages.

Scientists say there is little research so far into how best to store frozen beans for the long term. So coffee nerds are trying to figure it out for themselves. Some roasters are trying ultralow-temperature freezers typically used by labs to store biological samples. Others use frozen-food warehouses. Some freeze unroasted beans, others roasted.

Premium coffee beans are sealed in air-tight pouches in a freezer at the ONA Coffee cafe in Sydney, Australia.
Premium coffee beans are sealed in air-tight pouches in a freezer at the ONA Coffee cafe in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Mike Cherney/The Wall Street Journal

“People haven’t done this before,” says Christopher Hendon, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon who has studied coffee. “A good analogy for this is: Imagine being the first guy ever to provide aged whiskey. Imagine saying, ‘Hey, 28 years from now, we are going to make some money.’ ”

One thing the coffee experts figured out right away: They had to do better than ordinary consumers who buy a bag of coffee at the grocery store, use some of it and just toss the rest into the freezer.

“Thirty years ago, people said, ‘Oh, freeze all your coffee and it’s better for it,’ ” says Will Young, the owner of Campos Coffee in Sydney. “But then people were doing it badly. They were doing it in open containers, frost forming on the actual bean itself. It was just really embarrassing for coffee.”

Mr. Hendon says coffee beans need to be frozen in an airtight container to keep out excess moisture and prevent unwanted odors from contaminating the beans. More study is needed, he says, to determine how the rate of freezing and humidity affects the beans.

It helps to have a reliable freezer. Mr. Young arrived at his roastery one day last year to find a mini-freezer had stopped working. Inside was unroasted Panamanian coffee that had cost more than $100 a pound. It had been frozen for nine months. It wasn’t anymore.

The unplanned thawing, he says, left the beans tasting no better than a $6-a-pound grade. Still, some of the beans were good enough to use in the regular espresso blend he sells to cafes. That week, he says, cafe customers were “drinking some of the best coffee in the world, just a very small amount of it in each cup.”

Campos Coffee owner Will Young examines a freezer for storing premium beans.
Campos Coffee owner Will Young examines a freezer for storing premium beans. Photo: Mike Cherney/The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Young upgraded to a freezer that cost about $3,000. He uses it to store ultrapremium coffee from Panama, Yemen and Costa Rica. Preserving it in a freezer just for a year would be a success. Mr. Young says unroasted beans typically start to degrade after six months, even if stored in a climate- and humidity-controlled warehouse.

George Howell, who runs his namesake coffee business in Boston, has about 200,000 pounds of unroasted beans in a warehouse used for frozen food. He also has several ice-cream freezers in his roastery to keep the more expensive beans, including a Guatemalan variety harvested back in 2012.

Still, Mr. Howell says about 10% of his frozen beans still degrade, probably because the beans weren’t properly dried after harvest.

“This has all been trial and error and just following what works,” he says. “We’re not scientists.”

Mike Cracknell, managing director of Vertue Coffee Roasters in Melbourne, tried freezing roasted coffee beans in a sandwich bag in his freezer at home. He says the coffee ended up tasting like rotten fruit. Subsequent experiments with a vacuum seal yielded better results, but he doesn’t think freezing beans will become standard practice for most roasters and cafes.

“It’s over-engineering,” he says. “When the majority of people might be enjoying their large cappuccino or their regular flat white with one sugar, there’s no need to do that.”

ONA cafe manager Isaac Kim checks the aroma of a coffee made from frozen beans.
ONA cafe manager Isaac Kim checks the aroma of a coffee made from frozen beans. Photo: Mike Cherney/The Wall Street Journal

Such skepticism isn’t stopping some cafes. Customers at a new Sydney cafe run by ONA Coffee can order from what cafe manager Isaac Kim calls the “reserve menu.” The beans, already roasted, are stored in a freezer in single-serve, vacuum-sealed packs. Some coffee beans peak in flavor about 10 days after roasting and may start to degrade around the two-week mark, Mr. Kim says.

Carol Leong, who stopped by the ONA cafe with friends recently, said it was the first time she saw a barista take beans out of a freezer. “Just then I saw it and I was like, whoa, that’s pretty cool,” she said.

Matthew Lewin, winner of the Australian coffee championships, used a portable freezer to chill his beans..
Matthew Lewin, winner of the Australian coffee championships, used a portable freezer to chill his beans.. Photo: Mike Cherney/The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Sproule, from Tim Adams Specialty Coffee, didn’t win the Australian coffee championships, but she swears by her dry-ice technique. For optimal grinding, she says, she likes to get the beans to at least 58 degrees below zero.

At that temperature, she explains, “you get less fines and less boulders, and more like a shattered, uniform particle size.”

The winner of the contest was Matthew Lewin, who works at ONA. He said he used a portable freezer to chill his beans. At the main roasting facility in Canberra, Australia’s capital, ONA is looking to build a walk-in freezer.

Write to Mike Cherney at mike.cherney@wsj.com

An 80-Year-Old Ford Ready for More Road Trips

Tom Cotter, author and host of 'The Barn Find Hunter' YouTube show, with his 1939 Ford Deluxe, at his home in Davidson, N.C. Mr. Cotter first bought this car when he was 15, for $300.
Tom Cotter, author and host of ‘The Barn Find Hunter’ YouTube show, with his 1939 Ford Deluxe, at his home in Davidson, N.C. Mr. Cotter first bought this car when he was 15, for $300. Photo: Dhanraj Emanuel for The Wall Street Journal

Tom Cotter of Davidson, N.C., 65, a book author and host of the YouTube show “The Barn Find Hunter,” on his 1939 Ford Deluxe woody station wagon, as told to A.J. Baime.

When I was 15, I was walking with a friend near where I grew up in Long Island, and I saw this old woody behind a fence in someone’s yard. I said, “Holy crap, look at that!” We ran around the fence and there was this car. I knocked on the door of the house and a lady answered. She said she would sell me the woody for $300.

I borrowed the money and worked it off that summer. I was under the false impression that I could take the car apart and rebuild it by the time I got my license, one year away. My goal was to live a West Coast lifestyle. I wanted to surf and drink beer, and this woody was part of the dream.


Photos: A Lost and Found Ford Classic

Tom Cotter, an author and host of ‘The Barn Find Hunter,’ shows off his 1939 Deluxe woody station wagon

Tom Cotter’s 1939 Ford Deluxe woody station wagon. Mr. Cotter hosts a car event in his yard every year called Tom’s Woody Party. He held his 20th event in October.
Dhanraj Emanuel for The Wall Street Journal

The car needed work. We didn’t have a garage, we didn’t have tools, we had no knowledge, nor money. My father and I did the best we could, and my girlfriend, Pat, helped. But every winter we would put canvas over the car and whatever progress we made got undone. I sold the car in 1973 to a man in Puerto Rico for $1,200.

In 1998, 25 years later, my wife, Pat—who had been my girlfriend when I first owned the woody—called me at my job and said, “You’re never going to believe this. I did some searching and found two people in Puerto Rico who own 1939 woodies.” I called down there and found that old car. I ended up buying it back for $13,000.

That year I threw a party for the car, and every year since, I have hosted Tom’s Woody Party. It has grown into a huge event in my yard. I limit it to 300 cars. We hosted the 20th party last October. My car has also become a character on my YouTube show “The Barn Find Hunter.” I travel all over the country in it.

Today the Ford has an LS1 Corvette engine and I added seat belts, but it is still an old woody at heart. It creaks and moans when you drive it down the street. It is amazing to think that I am still with the girl I was with when I was in high school, and I still have the car I first bought for $300, before I could even drive.

More From My Ride

Your Company Wants to Know if You’ve Lost Weight

Your Company Wants to Know if You’ve Lost Weight
Illustration: Martin O’Neill

Across the U.S., more employers are handing out activity trackers and rolling out high-tech wellness programs that aim to keep closer tabs on workers’ exercise, sleep and nutrition, and ultimately cut ballooning health-care costs.

Disney , Whole Foods and dozens of other companies have introduced programs to reward employees for meeting certain criteria on health indicators such as weight-to-height ratio and blood pressure. Some incentivize workers to hit a target number of step counts and eat well: One wellness provider, Vitality, works with 31,000 grocery stores to analyze participants’ food choices and award points for healthy purchases, which can be redeemed for prizes.

While many employees are fans of the programs, which often sync with apps that track user data, others are raising questions about who sees such data, where it could end up and whether such programs discriminate against those who don’t participate.

Many corporate wellness programs use wearable devices like Fitbits that track step counts, sleep and heart rates.
Many corporate wellness programs use wearable devices like Fitbits that track step counts, sleep and heart rates. Photo: Associated Press

In West Virginia last year, a statewide teacher’s strike was partly spurred by the introduction of Go365, an app used to track steps, sleep and heart rate. Failure to earn a certain number of points through the system would result in a $500 hike in the employee’s annual insurance deductible. “People felt really violated,” said Tega Toney, 34, an 11th-grade social-studies teacher in Oak Hill, W.Va. “It was a Big Brother issue.” The program was later abandoned.

Other employees consider such programs a benefit and enjoy the idea of being rewarded for a healthy lifestyle. Chereesa Williams, who handles oil-and-gas payments for the company King Ranch in Houston, each morning steps on an employer-provided scale that syncs with her phone, and wears a company-provided Fitbit to track her steps all day. “Nowadays if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” said Ms. Williams, 59, who’s lost 15 pounds in the past year and gets about $1,200 discounted from her health premiums annually.

What should you know about wellness-incentive programs that collect your data? Here are some commonly asked questions:

Why is my employer doing this?

While the evidence is mixed, many companies say encouraging workers to be more proactive on wellness, with incentives from gift cards to discounts on health benefits, reduces health spending. Paul Terpeluk, a physician and medical director of employee-health services at Cleveland Clinic, says it took three years after launching a wellness program in 2009 to see a return on investment. But since then, the clinic—which rewards employees for reaching targets for glucose, cholesterol and more—said it’s saved $668 million with no loss in benefits, and also seen a drop in sick leave. “The government and your employer can’t make you healthy. It’s impossible,” Dr. Terpeluk said. “But what we can do is create an environment where you’re incentivized to be healthy.”

Who can see my information?

It depends. To abide by federal law and prevent discrimination, third-party wellness providers generally only share workers’ aggregated information with employers. But if employers are running incentive programs—for instance, challenging employees to meet certain health targets or step counts—it’s possible a provider would notify the employer about which individuals succeeded.

Many wellness providers retain the right to sell aggregate user data to advertisers and others, which critics fear could be matched with other information and potentially risk individual exposure.

Do incentive programs improve health? Some experts and researchers say the jury is still out.
Do incentive programs improve health? Some experts and researchers say the jury is still out. Photo: iStock

Should I worry about my privacy?

In addition to tests measuring indicators like blood pressure, wellness programs often involve taking detailed online health assessments that can include questions on alcohol consumption and pregnancy plans. Many programs employ wearable devices that track step counts, sleep and heart rates. Some privacy experts fear that by opting in, individuals may put their data at risk. Wellness programs that are run as part of group health plans are covered by HIPAA, the nation’s main health-privacy law. However, many others aren’t, leaving protection for employee data more porous, said Joy Pritts, who served as chief privacy officer at the Department of Health and Human Services until 2014.

“There’s just too many different data sources and too many nuances about when the data is covered [by privacy laws] and when it’s not. It makes it impossible for the individual to figure out when their information is protected,” she said.

Some in the industry say privacy concerns are overblown. Jim Pshock, founder of wellness-program administrator Bravo, noted many large employers are already self-insured and may have individuals authorized to access employee health data, which federal law says must be separated from personnel records. “The same reason I don’t know you have cancer or AIDS is the same reason I don’t know your blood pressure [through a wellness program]. The firewall’s already there,” he said.

Experts recommend that employees clarify with their employer who has access to their data, and request—and read—the privacy policy that applies to the wellness program.

Do I have to participate?

It’s illegal for your employer to force you to provide health information as part of a wellness program, whether through a health-risk assessment or biometric screenings, which involve recording things like cholesterol and blood-sugar levels. However, many employers offer generous financial incentives to provide such information, which critics say punish those who opt out and can act as a kind of coercion. In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said giving incentives of up to 30% off the cost of a worker’s health-insurance coverage was permissible. But it removed that guideline this year, leaving a gray area.

What if I can’t meet my employers’ health goals?

Under federal law, incentives to meet targets for metrics such as body-mass index are allowed. However, employers also have to offer reasonable alternatives to workers who aren’t able to achieve such standards—for example, allowing them to enroll in disease-management or health-education programs.

Do the programs work?

Authors of one large, randomized study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research last year didn’t find any statistically significant difference in medical spending for wellness-program participants over a period of 12 months.

“Honestly, I think the jury is out,” said David Katz, who served as director of medical studies in public health at Yale University’s medical school for nearly a decade. However, it can take time to see returns on investment, said Mr. Katz, who sits on the science advisory board of wellness provider Virgin Pulse. He says he is an advocate of such programs, as more needs to be done to address the country’s health problems.

Virgin Pulse (which provides a wellness program for Dow Jones & Co., The Wall Street Journal’s parent company) says employees who participate in its program show an average of 13% reduction in annual medical and pharmaceutical costs.

Is there a risk of discrimination?

Research has found workers who don’t participate in programs tend to be poorer and have less-healthy behaviors, suggesting that in some situations, wellness programs could end up making health care more expensive for the disadvantaged.

Some privacy experts cite research showing that even aggregated information can be vulnerable to individual identification, particularly when combined with other sources. If data is sold to marketers or life insurers, there’s a concern that individuals with certain health conditions could be targeted with ads or discriminated against, said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. “Some of this could get very predatory,” she said. “I think wellness programs are fantastic. But we need to do more to protect people’s data.”

What Do You Think?

What are your experiences with high-tech corporate wellness programs? Please use the comments section to tell us your thoughts or email us directly at te-ping.chen@wsj.com.

Write to Te-Ping Chen at te-ping.chen@wsj.com

Appeared in the February 12, 2019, print edition as ‘Your Company and Your Fitness Data.’

This Decorating Puzzle Almost Stumped the Pros

From left: Queen Cane Bed, $3,200, industrywest.com; Bubble Bureau, from $12,800, stevenbukowski.com
From left: Queen Cane Bed, $3,200, industrywest.com; Bubble Bureau, from $12,800, stevenbukowski.com
This Decorating Puzzle Almost Stumped the Pros
Solution 1

Bring in a lamp that is itself both restrained and wild. New York designer Lindsey Coral Harper recommends this Bunny Williams Home light. Energetic brush strokes a la abstract expressionist Franz Kline modernize the familiar double-gourd form and plain shade. “Like the bed’s caning, parts of the lamp are traditional, but its unconventional twist speaks to the bureau,” said Ms. Harper. Brush Stroke Lamp, $950, bunnywilliamshome.com

This Decorating Puzzle Almost Stumped the Pros
Solution 2

Echo the dresser’s stripy form with a piece in a conciliatory muted hue. Of the beechwood credenza he picked as a supporting act, San Francisco designer Leo Cesareo said: “It has the ribbing of the bureau and natural wood finish of the bed, so it’s speaking both languages.” The semicircular curves of the credenza’s silhouette allude to the bed’s rounded corners and to the dresser’s cylindrical forms. Bonus: Extra storage. RIMA Credenza, $3,250, 1stdibs.com

This Decorating Puzzle Almost Stumped the Pros
Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas
Solution 3

Unfurl bedding with a unifying pattern. “I like the beauty of the bed in its simplicity, and the dresser is very bold,” noted Toronto designer Brian Gluckstein, who proposed embroidered Liana Bedding in Coral as a bridge. “That subtle geometric honeycomb border reminds me of the bed’s cane, which is like a pattern itself, and the stitching’s color ties in with the dresser,” said Mr. Gluckstein, who avoided an over-the-top pattern that might gang up against the bed with the bullying bureau. $275 for queen flat sheet, matouk.com

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

More in Design & Decorating

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV Is Massive—and Will Not Be Ignored

HIGH ROLLER The Cullinan SUV stands 6 feet tall, 17.5 feet long, but offers just 21 cubic feet of cargo—too measly for a family trip.
HIGH ROLLER The Cullinan SUV stands 6 feet tall, 17.5 feet long, but offers just 21 cubic feet of cargo—too measly for a family trip. Photo: BMW Group

BACK WHEN TIGERS were plentiful and Rolls-Royces were rare, the rajahs of India would commission special hunting cars, from which their owners could comfortably blast away at charismatic megafauna. The most famous such car is a 1925 Barker-bodied Phantom I, owned by Maharajah of Kotah, Umed Singh II. His Highness’s Roller was built on a raised chassis and was powered by an 8-liter inline-six and four-speed gearbox, with a low-speed ratio for off-roading. It towed an antiaircraft machine gun for extra big game. Nice.

And so in a way Rolls-Royce has returned to form with the 2019 Cullinan, the British firm’s new SUV for a new generation of dead-eyed aristocracy.

Built at the home sheds in West Sussex, the Cullinan—named for the largest rough-cut diamond ever found, or whatever—will be limited to about 2,000 units annually, of which the U.S. market will take about one-third. Officially, the Cullinan starts at $325,000, but buyers can spec one out unto the seven figures, depending on how many sharks you would like in the aquarium.

Our test vehicle was priced at $406,225 and it did not include two of the most gotta-have box-tickers: the motorized foldout tailgating seats; or the splendid picnic set with china and crystal. Rolls-Royce doesn’t put that gear in test cars because people keep nicking the silverware.

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Rolls-Royce Cullinan
Rolls-Royce Cullinan Photo: BMW Group

Base Price: $325,000

Price as Tested: $406,225

Powertrain: Twin-turbocharged direct-injection 6.75-liter DOHC V12; eight-speed automatic transmission; permanent all-wheel drive

Power/Torque: 563 hp at 5,000 rpm/627 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm

Length/Width/Height/Wheelbase: 210/85/72/130 inches

Curb Weight: 5,864 pounds

0-60 mph: 5 seconds

EPA Fuel Economy: 12/20/14 mpg, city/highway/combined

Cargo Capacity: 21 cubic feet

Some might be appalled that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, owned by BMW Group, would build such a vehicle, but that’s only because they’ve seen it. As a car person, I have a lot of warm feelings toward the Cullinan. For one thing, it’s not a Bentley Bentayga. The Bentayga, the other ultraluxury British SUV, was designed over a shared VW Group architecture. This expedience cursed it with mass-market proportions and anonymous silhouette, within the same dimensional/visual template as the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. Meh is the technical term.

What was lost in the Bentayga’s conception was retained in the Cullinan: the special, the sense of occasion, the arrival of audacity. The Cullinan is, first, titanic: 210 inches long, 85 inches wide at 72 inches high in its standard ride height, poised over an immense wheelbase, 130 inches. Under that decadent hood is a bi-turbo 6.75-liter V12, thrumming as through a mahogany deck.

Again, as someone who appreciates classic Rolls-Royces, I salute the profiling of the Cullinan SUV’s rear tailgate, reminiscent of 1949 Hooper-bodied Silver Wraith’s boot. The grille form, formerly known as the temple grille, is set like a bauble in the prongs of the raised hoodline, peeling apart amid two vestigial wings. I see what you did there.

While the Cullinan discretely uses modified components with BMW offerings—the eight-speed transmission, the four-corner air suspension with active anti-roll bars, the infotainment software—it has its own, quite peculiar architecture. You are looking at a vehicle with an all-aluminum space-frame, hung with mostly aluminum body panels, and it still weighs nearly 6,000 pounds.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan
Rolls-Royce Cullinan Photo: BMW Group

Why? Well, it does have a V12 engine (also aluminum). But a big part is due to the structural reinforcement and safety systems required by the rear coach doors. These doors are hinged at the rear, which means there is no conventional B-pillar between the doors for stiffness or side intrusion. This feature, unique to Rolls-Royce, dominated the design-engineering of the company’s new space-frame architecture, which will underpin all future models.

You may ask, “Why go to the trouble of engineering these elaborate coach doors?” Why does Rolls-Royce get up in the morning? The coach doors are the company’s sine qua non, its brand, its jam. I adore them myself and think they are way cool.

But on an SUV? The doors are insane and impractical, a stuffy British version of Tesla’s top-hinged falcon wing doors. For one thing, as I discovered when I took the Cullinan for some soft-roading in the mountains, the motorized, push-button coach doors won’t activate if the vehicle is tilted or leaning more than about 5 degrees. In that case, the occupants must reach out and close their own doors, like bloody peasants.

For another, packaging: There are some magnificent thrones aboard the Cullinan, wrapped in couture-quality leather upholstery. The rear cabin can be ordered in three-seat configuration, like our tester; or owners can opt for the private-jet vibe with two reclining seats and amenities installed in the center armrest: crystal decanter and glasses, refrigerator, tea set, gun safe. Rolls can hook you up.

‘What’s lost in the Bentley is found in a Cullinan: the sense of occasion, the arrival of audacity.’

However, between the epic styling, the coach doors, and the overstuffed furniture inside, there is almost no room for anything else. The Cullinan has an impoverished 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, barely enough for a weekend trip with a family of four. Except this family has two standard poodles who had to ride in the back with the kids. This required that I cover the entire interior of the test car with blankets, like the Mr. Wolf scene in “Pulp Fiction.”

Asking “How’s it drive?” is naive. First, the average owner isn’t driving. That person is an employee. It rides wonderfully, though, a big old cloud on auto-leveling air suspension. At low speeds and on fine-grain road imperfections, I could feel a touch of transient oscillation from those immense 22-inch wheels and all-season tires. The chassis engineers probably would have been happier with smaller wheels but they would have been dwarfed in the wheel wells. The wheels, not the engineers.

The Cullinan does have a low-speed off-road mode and three-stage air suspension affording a maximum 21 inches of, um, fording. I’m sure it works as advertised. But I was terrified to take it to the grocery store, never mind off-roading it. The tigers are safe from me.

More in Gear & Gadgets

The Hottest New Fashion Trend for Men Is…Harnesses?

ON JULY 18, 2018, Chadwick Boseman wore a white, chest-spanning leather harness over his cream-colored tuxedo to the ESPY Awards. Months later, Timothée Chalamet showed up at the Golden Globes in a glittery gothic version of the harness and Michael B. Jordan, not to be outdone, strapped on a floral embroidered one for the Screen Actors Guild Awards. This trio of body-crossing contraptions, all from Virgil Abloh’s first collection as Louis Vuitton’s menswear designer, have confounded awards-show followers. Are the harnesses bedazzled gun holsters? Sparkly black lederhosen? Toddler reins for adults? For my money, they…