Coffee: The Renaissance Drink

Coffee is addictive, putting itself on a list of increasingly scolded products that consumers love but shouldn’t have so much of.  But that reputation is more the fault of other, more caffeinated products whose effects combined with sugar and possibly other stimulant drugs can be overload for a lot of people:

“A learned taste for cream and sugar (made all the more enticing when they’re designed to smell like seasonal celebrations) is likely one of the reasons why we associate coffee more with decadence than prudence.” – The Atlantic (link in paragraph above)

Coffee, on its own, has its own benefits as we’ve mentioned before (Coffee as a Pain Reliever,” October 2012).  How did it come to be where it is today?  What got it to catch on?

Café del Urrestarazu

Coffee & the Enlightenment

That’s right.  Let me explain.  Coffee isn’t an “Old World” product.  Coffee first appeared in Europe in the 1600s, via the Turkish Ottoman Empire.  It had originated in Ethiopia and southern Yemen, where its beverage form was known as a pick-me up.  Suddenly, Europeans who used to start the day with beer or wine were hitting up caffeine.  Instead of being relaxed or drunk, they were alter and on fire.

It literally turned Europe over.  A social revolution ensued as coffeehouses sprang up alongside bars and pubs.  Just like their alcoholic predecessors, everyone came to the local cafe for a drink.  But this time, being energetic and springy, the conversations were more intellectual than emotional.

These are the sort of benefits that people seek when they start their days with a cup of coffee.  Instead of stumbling into the office, they immediately begin tackling otherwise boring and monotonous tasks.

Does It Actually Increase Productivity?

This is the essential question.  Productivity is “an average measure of efficiency of production.”  When we consider what makes a worker “productive,” we need to factor in memory, alertness and decreased fatigue.  Caffeine has that sort of positive spin on all those elements of our personality and productive output.  A few reviews have shown improvements in cognitive performance from regular caffeine intake.  Memory benefits tremendously – if you’re familiar with the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, caffeine helps people recall information that they might otherwise not be able to remember.

Caffeine should be used sparingly and intermittently with cups of water.  Don’t be so quick to dismiss it as antithetical to your health plan.  A single cup goes a long way.



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