Along with 108 million other Americans, I start my day with a cup of java. I usually have mine at Agia Sophia’s, the coffee shop and bookstore where I am writing this. The beans are freshly ground and brewed in a French Press.
Coffee is one of the half dozen drinks that shaped civilization according to A History Of The World In Six Glasses; the others being beer, wine, spirits, tea and Coca-Cola.
Granted, coffee is an acquired taste. I learned to drink it at late night elders’ meetings. I used to think these marathon sessions were a measure of our dedication and commitment but later realized their length only reflected our incompetence.
Like some other things I enjoy, I used to feel guilty about drinking coffee because it was supposed to be bad for you and my body was a temple of the Holy Spirit. I limited myself to two or three cups a week although I was in restaurants almost daily at various meetings. But in time, greed overcame guilt. If I ordered hot chocolate or tea I got one cup whereas coffee came with free refills.
Knowledge has also put my mind at ease. There have been about 19,000 studies done regarding coffee’s impact on health. The WEBMD article, Coffee: The New Health Food? notes that,
“Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,” says Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies … “For most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good.”
Consider this: At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s … Other research shows that compared to not drinking coffee, at least two cups daily can translate to a 25% reduced risk of colon cancer, an 80% drop in liver cirrhosis risk, and nearly half the risk of gallstones.
Coffee consumption has also been shown to lower the risk of other maladies, from type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease to tooth decay. It can increase cognitive performance and decrease the risk of suicide and is the leading contributor of antioxidants to the American diet.
I appreciate the medicinal benefits of coffee but that’s not why I drink it. I use it as a way to signal my brain it’s time to show up for work. I can’t go as far as Balzac, who said, “As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move … similes arise, the paper is covered with ink … Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.”
He drank his coffee strong and black and produced about 100 novels and plays. I use cream and agave; maybe that’s my problem.