Coffee has gotten a bad rap. Sure, too much coffee can have a negative impact (nervousness, adrenal strain, and sleep reduction to name a few), but there are some terrific benefits that coffee has to offer as well. So, grab a cup of coffee (if you haven’t had too much already), and join me for a look at the positive side of that magical brew that has been around for centuries. (For those of you who enjoy useless information, coffee originated in Ethiopia. Some say its cultivation began in the 9th century while other experts claim it’s been around since AD 575.)
Coffee has a high level of antioxidants (more than green tea actually). Antioxidants are basically enzymes and nutrients that help the body prevent disease from developing in the body. Coffee can also help speed up metabolism and reduce hunger, which can both aid in weight loss. Because coffee is a diuretic, it can also help flush the bladder and prevent it from developing disease. So, in a very real sense, coffee is a healthy energy drink. Can we go so far as to call it a “bean smoothie”? Step aside green smoothies and Red Bull!
Coffee can also enhance brain function by aiding performance and memory function, and it also works as an anti-depressant. This enhanced brain function can aid individuals who are bored or tired by giving them a much-needed mid-day mental perk. Now, I’m not a medical expert, but I play one in my dreams. Seriously, on some days, nothing but a cup of coffee (half heated vanilla soy milk/half coffee) can break through brain fog and help me think clearly. While doing this day in and day out may point to a deeper problem (such as those mentioned in the introduction), coffee can provide a much-needed boost when strategically placed. Not only that, but spending time “having coffee” with friends is also great therapy, perhaps equal only to the therapy sessions with my exercise partner. (As expensive as specialty coffee can be, it’s still way cheaper than seeing an actual therapist.)
When I was a teenager, my mom used to bring me coffee in bed every morning to help wake me up. While this may have fed my coffee addiction, I have since broken that addiction (See “The Coffee Gene”) and this memory now serves as a pleasant reminder of one way my mom showed me she loved me. She made me feel special as she took that time every morning to do something small but meaningful for me. Some of my best memories both growing up and throughout the first half of my life are associated with drinking coffee. So many times spent chatting with friends and family happened with coffee in hand. Experts say that the sense of smell is a tremendous precipitator for evoking memories. (See “The Nose, an Emotional Time Machine” for an interesting read on the power of smell.) I know whenever I smell coffee, I get a calming trip down memory lane thinking about all the times spent enjoying “having coffee” with people I care about.
Coffee has long been a center of business meetings and social gatherings. Rarely do you find an event that, at a minimum, does not have coffee available. When individuals who haven’t seen each other in a while cross paths coincidentally, you often hear, “We should do coffee soon!” My husband and I try to spend one-on-one time together frequently, and often that is over a cup of coffee at a favorite coffee shop. I have many friends with whom I also try to meet regularly for coffee, which really means spending a couple of hours chatting and catching up with life. Yet, it’s the phrase “Let’s have coffee” that seems to offer a comfortable way of saying, “I miss you and want to spend more time with you.” Even my non-coffee-drinking friends will “have coffee” with me, and we end up creating great memories as well as spending valuable time strengthening our relationship. To me, the social benefits of “having coffee” far outweigh the physical and mental benefits.
Consider Coffee Balance
As with so many aspects of life, balance is key. Too much coffee, and you’re constantly jittery and in need of more coffee. Not only that, but too much coffee can have negative health benefits as well (such as those mentioned in the introduction). But some, maybe a cup or two, strategically placed can serve to increase productivity and energy not to mention add tremendously to your social life and increase the strength of your relationships. So, instead of believing that coffee is some sort of liquid evil from which you should completely abstain, consider that perhaps there is a less extreme approach. Consider that the coffee medium may be one of the best ways to give your life balance.
DISCUSSION: What good memories does coffee bring back for you? When can you next “have coffee” and reconnect with someone? Do you drink too much coffee and are possibly cancelling the positive affects it can have? How can you take steps toward a balanced coffee drinking life?