Coffee: The Examined Cup
“Fiddlesticks!” I said, “I am simply not ready to give up coffee.” (OK, so maybe I didn’t actually say, “fiddlesticks” but the interjection I chose at the moment was not quite appropriate to include in a blog post). This proclamation of, both, love and defiant resolve came after a few weeks of depriving myself of the roasted extraction for no real reason other than to test myself. But the fact is, I like coffee far too much to just walk away with an empty mug in hand. And I am certainly not alone, as over 500 billion cups of coffee will be consumed this year alone by people nearly as (or even more so) enthusiastic than myself about the stuff.
According to a newly edited love letter to coffee (in the form of a collection of essays), titled, Coffee, Philosophy for Everyone: Grounds for Debate, caffeine is one of the most widely taken psychoactive drugs on earth, and coffee is its foremost delivery system. This beloved drink, the source of controversy as well unyielding ardor, had been banned from ancient communities, including Mohammed’s Mecca, for its “sinful” qualities, and since has developed into a dynamic global product and culture that shows no signs of abating.
Simply put, people are firmly passionate about coffee: from the ritualistic cup o’ Joe drinkers to the unapologetic coffee elite who roast their own beans. Ritual drinkers buy pre-ground coffee in cans with little provenance, while others go to great lengths to buy one of the world’s most expensively processed coffees (Kopi Luwak), which its beans are literally consumed and pooped out by a small Asian Palm Civet. But one of the most hotly contested issues with coffee would be its effects on physical and mental health. People have chosen (or been forced) to quit coffee because of its deleterious effects on the stomach as well as its talent in making some people nervous basket cases (this is largely due to the high caffeine content) but coffee also holds a few beneficial attributes to health, as it has been linked to prevention of Parkinson’s, liver cancer and type 2 diabetes, and is known for its relatively high level of naturally occurring antioxidants.
Still, as popular and enduring (and purportedly healthy) as coffee may be, you will still find thousands of people that are trying to quit the habit. What is your relationship to coffee? Is it a monkey on your back or something that provides inspiration? Do you have a favorite method of preparation? Is simple superior to some of the more elaborate modes of extraction? And if not coffee, then what does it for you?