Coffee is one of the most consumed commodities in the world. Travel to any corner of the globe, and you’re bound to see someone drinking coffee in one form or another. Sure, the brewing methods might differ and when people drink their coffee depends on their culture and habits. But, one way or another, people everywhere drink coffee. The question is, why?
In this article, we’ll take a stab at answering such a monumental question. There are many reasons people drink coffee, from ingrained cultural habits to physical addiction, and we’re going to cover all the possible angles and put one of the world’s favorite drinks under the microscope. Grab a fresh cup, and let’s begin.
Top 6 Reasons People Drink Coffee:
1. The Energizing Boost
As much as we’d love to say the number one reason people drink coffee is that they like the taste, it’s way more likely that a significant fraction of coffee drinkers are chasing the energy boost they get from caffeine. In a world that keeps getting busier, people need an edge that can keep them going while they manage their work, raise a family, and try to find some time for fun.
A cup of coffee—or three—in the morning has enough caffeine to give the average-sized person a decent boost of energy. The caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine—a neurotransmitter that triggers sleepiness—and helps people go about their day when they really could use more sleep. Caffeine can also help boost focus and improve someone’s mood, both desirable effects for most people.
2. Health Benefits
Coffee also comes with many health benefits, mainly courtesy of its caffeine content. Many studies have shown that caffeine has several brain health benefits, including protecting against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and improving long-term memory.
Coffee’s health benefits aren’t reserved exclusively for the brain, however. Some studies indicate that regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of cirrhosis of the liver and supports colon health. There are also some lesser-known benefits of drinking coffee, such as regular coffee drinkers reporting a lower incidence of kidney stones and a reduced risk of developing some cancers, like prostate cancer, some cancers of the head and neck, and recurrent breast cancer.
3. Physical Addiction
So far, we’ve only covered positive reasons people drink coffee, but there are some less savory reasons as well. Caffeine is a psychoactive substance, meaning it can alter brain function. People who regularly consume large amounts of coffee—defined as more than four average size cups of coffee per day—are at risk of developing a caffeine addiction.
Physical addiction to caffeine is less serious than addiction to other addictive substances like nicotine or hard drugs like cocaine or heroin, but it comes with its own challenges.
Reducing coffee consumption for people physically addicted to caffeine produces withdrawal symptoms, making it difficult to dial back their coffee habit. Coffee drinkers that get headaches when they don’t have their morning cup are likely addicted to caffeine on some level and therefore drink coffee to avoid the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal.
4. Psychological Dependence
Although caffeine is addictive, some people become psychologically dependent on coffee because it is part of their routine. Coffee drinkers congregate around the coffee machine at work to catch up, meet at cafes to reconnect with friends and family, or put on a fresh pot when company comes over. These activities ingrain coffee as a part of connecting with people you care about and make it subconsciously an emotional and social dependency.
Psychological dependence is less well-understood than physical dependence, but it can be difficult for people who are psychologically dependent on coffee to remove it from their routine. For these people, paradoxically, they drink coffee because they drink coffee.
5. It’s Part of Their Culture
Coffee drinking culture is related to psychological dependence but gets its own slot because it goes beyond the daily routine. The Italian tradition of espresso after dinner is a part of their culture, and skipping coffee for some Italians would be like going outside without clothes, unthinkable.
In virtually every human culture on earth, coffee holds a central place in some traditions. Children are raised around a family that drinks coffee after a meal or as part of a holiday tradition, and the thought of removing coffee from these experiences seems foreign.
6. It Just Tastes Good
We saved our favorite reason for last. Just because coffee is an acquired taste doesn’t mean that avid coffee drinkers have simply forced themselves to drink coffee until they got used to it. Like other acquired tastes, once you overcome the initial barrier, you can start to detect and appreciate the more subtle flavors that go unnoticed to the uninitiated.
Many non-coffee drinkers are surprised to hear that all coffee doesn’t taste the same. To them, coffee is coffee, and there isn’t much else to it. In reality, many factors determine how a particular coffee bean tastes. The final result in your cup is a composition of the farmer’s decisions, the climate the bean grows in, and the artful touch of the expert roaster. A light roast from Ethiopia tastes nothing like a dark roast from Colombia, and experiencing and appreciating both for what they are is the fundamental joy of coffee.
There are as many reasons people drink coffee as there are people, but we tried to divide these reasons into their main categories. Some people drink coffee to make it through the day, others to savor a citrusy Kenyan, and some because everyone at the table is enjoying some, and they don’t want to be left out.
Coffee fuels our progress as a species by getting people out of bed and powering late nights in the office, but it also brings us together with friends and family and helps us form close-knit communities. Whatever your reason for drinking coffee, rest assured that you’re in good company.
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