I’m far more of a wine connoisseur than a coffee drinker. Years ago I cut back to half decaf in order to cut back on migraines and stomach trouble. The hi-test sludge my editor prefers could never cross my lips for fear of bodily damage. The one thing I associate with brutal American coffee is brutal American stress: the need to meet a deadline, please a boss, do more, say more, be more with vim and vigor. Just as any alcoholic uses cheap trash, downing brutally burnt beans has become a lousy, albeit necessary way to get a much-needed fix. And that’s where we get coffee wrong in America.
Tel Aviv is littered with cafes and kiosks serving Euro-style coffee. I never got the hang of what to order to balance out my pathetically minimum caffeine requirement, but at Cafe Nachmani I not only learned how to order the right tasting brew, I learned how to enjoy it. I’ve never seen a windowsill in Starbucks lined with art magazines. Not Cosmo or People, literal professional art magazines you’d see in big city galleries and be afraid to touch. The Barnes & Noble cafes are filled with geeks on their laptops, chugging down brew in order to use the free WiFi. At Cafe Nachmani, patrons sipped on cappuccinos and the Israeli favorite, espresso, while lingering over literary mags heavier than half the books lining our chain’s clearance aisle.
Tel Avivans work like mad in a city that never sleeps. They’ve just learned how to enjoy a frenetic pace better than we ever could. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy life when you view it as a pleasure to be lived instead of an obligation to be fueled through.To better answer the question of what you’re drinking, you need to start with why you’re drinking it.
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“American coffee is now and always has been revolting, and it behooves us to look deep into our souls to understand why we overpay for muck at Starbucks. There’s a sucker born every minute, and he’s almost certain to be American. We are boosters, enthusiasts, tent-evangelicals, fly-by-nighters, snake-oil salesmen and honky-tonkers as a people, and get swindled every time.”
Well, yeah. This is the way it’s supposed to be. The coffee so many of us drink reflects who we are.
Here’s something I’m going to argue that isn’t going to make much sense to many people: I don’t want my morning coffee to taste good. I *want* it to taste bitter and “disgusting” as hell. Damn right!
That’s part of its magic — the knock-you-on-the-tongue kick in conjunction with the caffeine rush and the heat at a reasonable price.
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I alternate between a tea routine and a coffee routine every six months or so, using one or the other to help keep energy up and stay focused throughout the day. Right now I’m usually on about one pot of coffee a day, generally done by noon. I haven’t decided yet which is better…
“Coffee and caffeine have been inexorably intertwined in our thinking, but truth is coffee contains a whole lot of other stuff with biological benefits,” said Martin. And most concerns about caffeine’s negative effects on the heart have been dispelled. In June, a meta-analysis of ten years of research went so far as to find an inverse association between habitual, moderate consumption and risk of heart failure. The association peaked at four cups per day, and coffee didn’t stop being beneficial until subjects had increased their daily consumption to beyond ten cups.
Caffeine might also function as a pain reliever. A study from September suggested as much when its authors stumbled across caffeinated coffee as a possible confounding variable in its study of the back, neck, and shoulder pains plaguing office drones: Those who reported drinking coffee before the experiment experienced less intense pain.
The data is even more intriguing — and more convincing — for caffeine’s effects as a salve against more existential pains. While a small study this month found that concentrated amounts of caffeine can increase positivity in the moment, last September the nurses’ cohort demonstrated a neat reduction in depression rates among women that became stronger with increased consumption of caffeinated coffee.
A study released last Tuesday by an international consortium of caffeine scholars may help explain why some of these customers visited more often than others. Spearheaded by Marilyn Cornelis, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, the team investigated the link between genetics and coffee consumption. By analyzing DNA as well as data on 120,000 adults of European and African-American heritage, the researchers identified eight genetic variants that predispose individuals to seek out and drink caffeine.
“Our results show that people are naturally consuming the amount of coffee that allows them to maintain their optimal level of caffeine” to get that good caffeine feeling without becoming jittery, Cornelis told me. “If we need more, we’re reaching for it.”
Six of the genetic variants examined in the study were newly discovered by the researchers. According to Cornelis, individuals whose DNA expressed all the variants tended to drink around half a cup of coffee more than those without them. Additionally, the new genes canexplain about 1.3 percent of all coffee-drinking behavior, or about the same amount that genes can explain other habits, like smoking and alcohol consumption. While those effects may seem small, Cornelis said the study sheds light on why individuals’ bodies and brains react differently to caffeine—and how some people feel anxious after a single cup of coffee, whereas others can down a Starbucks Venti and feel just fine.
I wonder who the editor(s) might be at the Atlantic with the serious coffee habit…
Anyway, what do you recommend for daily caffeine consumption? Is waking up to the smell of coffee every morning a good enough reason to favor it over tea?
And if you have a coffee/tea or other product you’d like to see reviewed at PJ Lifestyle then please get in touch: DaveSwindlePJM @ Gmail Dot Com @DaveSwindle on Twitter
I am not one of those people who reflexively think European goods are superior to American ones—you know the kind of people I’m talking about—but boy do I sometimes wonder about the coffee in this country. The average American takes his or her daily caffeine in the form of a tepid, mud-like beverage that delis, diners, and commercial chains have chosen to call “coffee.” Is it? It can’t possibly be. Even the coffee at Starbucks, which is supposed to be something special, more often than not tastes like the business end of a drainpipe. It’s a shame so many people have been duped by words like “venti” and “macchiato.”
This dislike of mine has nothing to do with snobbery. I don’t care about price, brand, origin, or other markers of prestige. I know precisely nothing about the agriculture of coffee beans or the chemistry of brewing. I do know, however, that the proof of the coffee is in the drinking, and the motor oil served at most American establishments is barely potable.
I suspect I’m not alone in this judgment. If not, follow me, dear reader, on a mental trip to the beautiful city of Lviv, in western Ukraine—a place where I found some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. This was after I had tried the product of Vienna’s famous Cafe Hawelka. In fact, to imagine what Lviv is like, picture Vienna, only not as well preserved, with extra grit and grime on the buildings, and with occasional glimpses of drab Soviet architecture.
Coffee has a total of 23 NMT genes, which arose primarily via a series of gene duplication events. The collection of duplicated genes is distinct from the ones found in tea and cacao, two other caffeine-producing plants that are more closely related to each other. That suggests that these two lineages evolved the ability to give humans a jolt separately.
Coffee’s NMTs also exhibited evidence of positive evolutionary selection, indicating that caffeine biosynthesis may serve an adaptive purpose only in coffee. The function of its convergent evolution in the other drinks was not explored.
Obviously God, nature, the Universe or somebody wants us to be happy in the morning.
The science is settled, so go on and have another cup.
Ever just feel that the world is just too troubling a place and that you just have to get away for a time? I do. And I suspect that in this I am not alone. But sometimes there seems to be no time – and no place to get away too. Hey, this world is simply what we’ve got.
My own answer is to look for the little things. The things that make me smile. The things that tell me that God remains in his heaven.
What amazes me is that whenever I do this – whenever I force myself to do this – I realize, over and over again, that that “somewhere” I need to go is not really that far away at all. It’s out there, all the time, all around me, just waiting..
This morning for instance. I took my espresso – hot and steamy – out onto the porch and decided to just look for it. For Him.
I put away the cares of this world for a time and just allowed myself to wander. Not far. Just across the porch and out a ways onto the lawn. And when I did, this is what I saw…
Here are a few things we remember fondly from the 1970s:
1. Department Store Gift-Wrapping
As a child I was completely enchanted by the dazzling array of bows and shiny gift wrap displayed on the wall in the gift-wrapping department at the May Company department store near my home in suburban Cleveland. The ladies were expert wrappers, with perfectly creased corners and stripes that lined up at every seam. The bows and gift cards were like icing on the tops of beautiful cakes. It was like watching magic happen before my eyes to see an ordinary salad bowl transformed into a sparkly work of art piled high with ribbon and lace. These days, most stores no longer offer gift-wrapping service (though a handful still do). More often than not you’ll be directed to the wrapping paper aisle and told to fend for you ham-handed self — explaining the exponential growth of the gift bag industry.
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard
Saying the open carry debate has become “increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening,” Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer, posted an open letter on the company’s website on Tuesday asking customers to leave their guns at home:
For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.
Schultz cited the recent “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” events in which Second Amendment advocates brought their guns to Starbucks locations and made purchases to thank the coffee chain for respecting state gun laws. This led to counter-protests from anti-gun activists. Starbucks’ previous policy had been to comply with the open carry laws in the states they serve. “That means we abide by the laws that permit open carry in 43 U.S. states. Where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is not permitted.”
Schultz said it was “disingenuous” for groups to portray Starbucks as a champion of open carry. “To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores,” Schultz emphasized in the letter.
Schultz clarified that this was a request and not an outright ban. He hinted that a ban could put Starbucks employees in danger. “[E]nforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on,” adding that “ the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores.”
Though Schultz’s letter focuses on “open carry,” his request that customers “no longer bring firearms into our stores” would seem to include “concealed carry” firearms as well.