Coffee Fueled Musings – Why Caffeine?

Note: The irony of writing a blog post on how caffeine can be addictive and debating the merits of coffee while feeling the effects of three cups of coffee (and a Red Bull) is not lost on me.

It’s said that caffeine in the most popular drug on planet Earth and I believe it. It’s a truism that coffee helped move Europe into the Renaissance, because instead of drinking beer and wine all day long Europeans switched to coffee. Thus instead of being drunk, sleepy and belligerent they became alert, motivated, probably a little antsy (or at least that’s how it affects me) and starting inventing.

There’s an excellent book called A History of the World in Six Drinks that lays all this out, but let’s leave it at this: coffee is brain fuel. However, coffee can in fact be addictive. I know this well: if a few hours into a day I still haven’t had my cup of java I start getting seriously headachy. I recently had to fast for a day and the migraine was an absolute killer! I do know that if I can get past a day or two without coffee this effect disappears, but I admit I’m not super comfortable with having my body essentially depend on the substance.

Its funny: if people spoke about alcohol the way they speak about coffee they would be branded alcoholics (“I need at least three cups of beer a day!” or “I just need a little pick-me-up in the morning, that’s why I have a little tequila right when I wake up!”). To me the difference is in how the two drugs affect you; alcohol is destructive. It makes you make stupid decisions and be less alert overall. Caffeine on the other hand makes you sharper, gets those synapses in your brain firing. Can you overdo it with either of them? Sure. I read recently about some bodybuilder who died after buying pure caffeine over the internet and eating 2 teaspoons, which was the equivalent of drinking 80 (!!) cups of coffee. 

Anyways, I’m getting a little tired, I’ll go brew up a cup of coffee and go kick some butt in this meeting!


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