Coffee, once the hero of hot beverages in America, now competes with the likes of Green Tea, Chai and Almond Milk.
A battle is brewing.It was only a matter of time before I addressed this issue.
I have tried to write about important things in the four corners of life. The person of Jesus, the air we breathe, our purpose in life, family, friends and the future are all more important than coffee. But sometimes we miss the in-between truths of life.
I know for some of you coffee is just part of your morning routine or a stay-awake aid. Others of you are tea drinkers or have sworn off caffeine all together and now live in the world of Green Tea, Almond and Soymilk or water.
I don’t judge you, please don’t judge me.
So can we just talk about coffee?
I can’t remember exactly when I tried my first cup of coffee. I seem to recall putting coins in a vending machine outside a lecture hall in college, caving into peer pressure. That was the gateway.
Over the years I have turned into something of a coffee snob. I’m not proud of it, but like most character traits, it developed slowly over a period of time, following the usual path: Chock Full o’ Nuts…. Maxwell House… Dunkin’ Donuts… and finally to the pinnacle, Starbucks.
Along the way I flirted with flavored coffees. Back in the day I waffled between… (Mmmm, waffles with coffee!) Hazelnut, Chocolate Raspberry or a seasonal flavor like Pumpkin Spice. As with any healthy marriage, the years bring a settled contentment and resolve. For me that’s black coffee.
Coffee has a storied history
You can thank Muslim communities of Arabia in the 13th century for discovering the stimulant value of roasted coffee beans. The Ottoman Empire extended its reach throughout Africa and Europe by the 16th century.
The Boston Tea Party turned tea drinkers into coffee drinkers as true patriots protested British taxation. Coffee became the choice of presidents like Teddy Roosevelt whose consumption was rumored to be a gallon a day.
And what about the storied Cup of Joe which was a source of warmth and comfort to battle-wearied troops in WW2? Who can say how many lovers sealed their vows sipping espresso on the Thames?
The idea of the coffeehouse accompanied the folk scene in Seattle in the 60’s. You might say it was the Facebook of an earlier generation. Eventually Starbucks was born and now has around 25,000 children.
End of story!
Coffee is more than caffeine
It’s fair to say that the most recent research is overwhelmingly in praise of coffee. Consider this from MedicalNewsToday.com: “A cup of coffee in the morning may pack more than just an energy boost. More and more research is emerging to suggest that there may be several health benefits associated with drinking this dark black beverage, from helping prevent diabetes to lowering the risk of liver disease.”
Wow. All of that is just a perk. I’d drink it anyway.
And then there are the antioxidants (one of the few words beginning with “anti” that refers to something you should be “for”). These super substances that help protect cell growth are usually associated with fruits and vegetables.
But guess what? According to a 2005 study the human body absorbs more antioxidants from coffee than anything else.
And that’s not all. Coffee is credited as therapy for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Coffee is a relationship
Coffee for me has always been more of a relationship tool than a vice. I have done my best thinking with a steaming cup beside me; my wife and I sit morning and evening, talking “over coffee.”
Maybe you’ve heard the story of Michael Gates Gill (How Starbucks Saved My Life). Once a wealthy ad executive, he lost his job, his wife and his health. In desperation he took a job at Starbucks and entered into “a divine grace” that shaped his life and rescued him.
He writes, “It saved me from my pursuit of empty symbols, but also my anxiety about a fear-filled superficial life that hadn’t been, in the end, helpful or even enjoyable for me”
It didn’t quite do that for me but I can relate to the sentiment. Coffee, more than food, brings people together without the fuss of table settings and the chore of serving (and “0” calories!). There around a table families gather, lovers connect and businessmen get it done.
Almost always I drink alone – except for my thoughts – and, between sips, work my way through the day’s do list.
And in case you’re wondering it’s not, “Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet’N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ice.”
It’s “Grande (that’s fancy for “medium”) dark roast, black.” And it’s about one third of the price.
I’m not saying that you’re less of a person if you don’t love coffee.
I’m not saying you should abandon herbal tea or soymilk lattes
I’m not saying that coffee will help you find love or mend your marriage
I’m not prepared to say it will save your life.
I’m just saying that history, health and my personal experience are mounting evidence that coffee is more than a beverage, more than a habit; it makes life better.
No, you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy coffee.
And that’s pretty close.
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