I have been seeing a lot of studies recently touting coffee as giving you a longer life. What’s the point of that? Is a long life really what we all want? Wouldn’t you rather have a good life? Personally I am not financially prepared to live for 100 years, esp if the last decade (or more) is spent re-watching John Hughes films, missing my old friends and my waistline and wondering where the hell all of my damn pencils went . Quality of life, people! Quality over quantity!
So what constitutes quality of life? Dr. Robert Schalock has narrowed it down to 3 key components: Independence, Social participation and Well-being.
So my question here is, how can coffee improve my quality of life? Well, let me count the ways!
If you look at the history of coffee you will see that it starts with happy goats, then a wakeful Abbott . From there it moves to the Arabian Peninsula where it quickly earns the name “Wine of Araby”. Before long the earliest “coffee culture” is born with places serving coffee known as “Schools of the Wise” because of the propensity for wakeful, intellectual conversations. Already, these coffee houses were being frequented by artists and poets and philosophers and chess players and musicians. When coffee culture was introduced into London, via Oxford scholars, early coffee houses became known as “Penny Universities”. They would charge and entrance fee of one penny, for the privilege of engaging in intellectual conversations with artists and philosophers and scholars of all kinds. Fast forward 400 years and not much has really changed.
Coffee, particularly coffee culture, has united people for centuries. Coffee is like a universal language. Coffee brings people together, it gets them thinking, focused, creative, passionate. It gets them talking, connecting, it gives them a sense of belonging. These are all things associated with well being. Anyone from anywhere can walk into a coffee shop and enjoy this affordable luxury. And it is available in every price range, even given away for free at soup kitchens and social gatherings, so essential is this warm ritual.
Ritual is another essential element to well being. According to Jan Stanley, MAPP, Ritual is a symbolic action to anchor an experience, which in turn leads to feelings of control and increased involvement. There are hundreds of rituals around coffee making and coffee drinking. Whether yours is the sound of the Melitta bubbling away and the pleasure of pouring that first cup of your favorite home brew, or your morning walk to your local cafe, interacting with your favorite barista and sipping your Americano non-fat misto with a half shot of sugar free hazelnut, there is still a sense of shared experience and anchoring that comes with it.
We all are familiar with the act of sipping hot drinks for comfort. We make coffee when we are troubled, when we are waiting, when we are bored, when we are cold, it is offered as an ice breaker, a safe invitation for first dates, and as a form of shared experience at meetings to help connect everyone and give them initial sameness.
Even the smell of fresh ground coffee can give us pleasure. In fact there are scientific studies that are showing actual genetic alteration in the brain when stimulated by the aroma of coffee.
And let us not forget the versatility of the humble bean. You can find coffee in candy, martinis (praise the lord and pass the gin), cake, as a crust on roast lamb, in chaw (yes, chaw), they even use it in facials and fake tanning oil!
So there you have it! Coffee improves your quality of life. The metaphysical salve to soothe your troubles and lift you up! The ultimate aromatherapy! The intellectual booster! The unifying element! The answer to world peace! Okay, maybe that is reaching a bit far, but it is good to know that no matter how long you live, no matter what your status or situation, you can easily enjoy this simple luxury and for a moment, feel totally at peace.