As those who know me interact with me on a regular basis in real life will attest, I am rarely seen without a cup of coffee in hand. In fact, if asked to describe me to someone else, my closest friends and family would use the word ‘coffee’ at least once in the first sentence. ‘Coffee-addicted’ is even the first word (pair of words, really) in my blog profile on the right. The truth of the matter is that I actually do not always have a cup of coffee in hand, but those moments are depressing and mostly incoherent. When the blood starts to resurface in my caffiene-veins, I tend to lose interest at an alarming rate.
It may seem a bit odd for me to dedicate a post solely to coffee and my experience of it, but I figure if George Orwell can write an entire essay about optimal tea preparation, I’m entitled to a measly post about the drink that makes me tick. (That sort of rhymes! <–this is me when the proportion of blood to caffiene raises; laaame…)
I read Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article called ‘Java Man’ last night, and it inspired me to dedicate a post to coffee. It’s a very fascinating essay about the history of coffee as an influence in major intellectual and revolutionary movements (namely, the American Revolution and the Enlightenment). I very highly recommend it to fellow coffee enthusiasts and the generally curious.
Wikipedia has an entire article titled ‘social aspects of coffee’. This is not just a drink, folks. Coffee is a way of life. As hippie-esque and fridge magnet-y as that sounds, Gladwell and Wikipedia have nailed it. Coffee changes lifestyles, and coffee is a lifestyle. Need more proof? Wikiquote has a list of coffee-related quotes from well-known people who feel the same.
The coffee lifestyle is so much my own I can hardly remember what it felt like otherwise. As a student of knowledge and slave to my writing, coffee is just so… useful. There’s definitely practical value in it; for myself, often struck by inspiration just before bed, it’s an effective way to keep myself up through the night to get my thoughts to paper. It even cushions the impact of the consequences, because when I wake up half-dead the morning after a thought-binge, there’s a steaming pot of coffee ready to keep me from passing out in my morning classes. (Obviously, this is not the healthiest lifestyle, but chosen insomniacs know that some things can be sacrificed for art, and sleep can always be made up later.)
As aspiring intelligentsia, too, and having the setback of being so young, I benefit from the social aspects of coffee. There is certainly social advantage in drinking coffee or tea, at least in these circles of discussion. Being fifteen, I can hardly expect to be included when dinner party conversation turns to politics or economics (in my extended family, it often does). It seems an unwritten rule, though, that once I accept a cup of coffee, people pay attention. If I don’t have a cup of coffee in front of me, I tend to be tuned out in favor of the ‘adult’ opinions, but once it’s acknowledged that I, too, drink coffee, my opinion on the global economy is suddenly valid. It’s a curious thing.
Consider this: in the eighteenth-century, the coffeehouse was the place for intelligentsia discussion. Through clouds of nicotine and over cups of java, key ideas of the Enlightenment were discussed and debated, and some of the first democratic ideals were uttered. Coffee brings people together, now as it did then. Its reputation as the ‘thinker’s drink’ did not emerge because someone thought it sounded cool.
Ironically, this post was not actually written while drinking coffee (it’s midnight–even I have my limits). This is my excuse for the choppy-ness of the writing and lousy structure. You’ll have to excuse me; there’s blood in my caffeine.