Thinking critically about... coffee?

Picture from Wikipedia Commons. Follow links below to see the article on Coffee.

This morning I resisted being rushed. For one reason or other we were late for church and I just stayed behind, finishing my freshly brewed cup of coffee. And enjoying it a lot more than listening to the priest paraphrase the current gospell reading.

Coffee cannot be rushed. It is to be savored and enjoyed. You can't leave it aside and keep on drinking: it has to be hot. All this got me thinking...

Coffee is a vice and an addiction. I find it helps me awaken in the morning, not being a morning person, and also keeps me productive in the early hours of the afternoon, when sleepiness creeps in after lunch. According to Wikipedia caffeine content in my cup of java may be in the range of 200-230 mg, which is enough for me to have addiction and withdrawal symptons. (Granted, these are only anecdotically recorded but...)

Coffee is an acquired taste. I drink coffee since I was very young (less than 5 probably) and I cannot get rid of it... On the other hand, my children were not accustomed to coffee when they were growing up and now that they are teenagers, they have little or no affection for my favorite concoction. Many of my friends who are not coffee drinkers (actually one of then is a coffee-t-totaler) did not get used to it when they were young and they find it distasteful.

Coffee is a social ritual. It is customary to offer coffee to visitors and talk about having a cup of coffee with friends in order to get together and socialize. In fact, I have used just that excuse to meet some fellow bloggers.

Coffee must be drunk hot. I keep remembering how Arthur C. Clarke used to have his space-faring characters complain about "tepid coffee". It makes perfect sense to me. As a result of my work, I know that 60-65 °C is about as hot as can be handled with your bare hands; above that, you tend to get first degree burns. However, for whatever reason, my mouth is able to handle higher temperatures, probably as high as 75°C and I have my coffee usually at a warm 60-65°C, which (I know) my hands cannot handle. In a spaceship you do not need the whole 15.6 psi of atmospheric pressure (sorry, I have never learned the kg per square centimeter units) since 80% of that is contributed by nitrogen and you can get by with 7-8 psi of an oxygen-rich atmosphere. At that low pressure you would not be able to heat coffee to the full 70-75°C without boiling it and you would have to drink it at 40°C or so... distastefully tepid. That is why in a normal atmosphere you should not neglect your cup of steaming java for long.

And coffee is such an important part of the world economy. The ups and downs of the market affect the livelihood of millions of people accross the world, especially in developing countries like mine, which is one of the top ten producers in the world (again, according to Wikipedia).
So coffee is a very important part of my life and that of many others.

A good subject to think about, in critical terms.

4 comments:

El ultimo De Paz said...

Hummm, excellent. The coffee and the post.

Luis FIGUEROA said...

Coffee is utterly good!!!

Edwin Méndez said...

I am a coffee lover, or lover with coffee, or loving with coffee, or coffee makes me love, or makes coffee with love, or made love with coffee. whatever I do is better with coffe. Viva the coffee!!

Coffee Loving Skeptic said...

Coffeeeee Mmmmmm... ;-)