Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Editorial: Does Coffee Make Us Severe?

Jonathan Swift stated, "Coffee makes us severe, and grave, and philosophical."

Is that true? When reading this quote from the author of Gulliver's Travels, it caused me to wonder whether there was anything specific to coffee, the thing in and of itself, tha
t makes humans be the aforementioned adjectives. Or is it simply the culture that derived around coffee that makes it so.

First, to state the obvious, coffee is a hot drink often to wake oneself up or bring warmth into the body on a cold day in late autumn or winter. Without any sugar or cream, it is a black oily substance (when steeped with water) with a bold, perhaps bitter, taste. Certainly, the properties point to it being severe and grave, like Calvinism.

Second, how does it make us philosophical? Is it simply that one drinks coffee over time slowly sipping it? Espresso lasts a mere 30 seconds or so to drink. Perhaps it is an equation to how long the coffee lasts, the more likely it is make someone be reflective. This correlates to how much coffee you have in your cup. As I stated, espresso is not effective in making oneself reflective as it is consumed quickly. An equation may be how long (T) it takes to drink per ounce (OZ) of coffee equals reflectivity (REF). It looks like OZ/T=REF.

It is a silly equation because reflectivity does not have any units (among other reasons) unlike ounces or time either in seconds or minutes, though I do tend to be more reflective when having a cup from a French Press rather than an espresso.

An assumption in my logic is that the longer one drinks their coffee, the more reflective one is. Why is that so? I could drink a cup of coffee, and be thinking of nothing at all. I could be staring at my white apartment walls.

From the little I know of coffee properties, I believe it stimulates brain activity, spurring or encouraging activity in the brain (whatever that may mean), but there is nothing inherent in coffee to make the person search for True knowledge.

Another explanation could be that literally having a cup of coffee in one's hands, allows us the luxury for a few minutes or a half hour to reflect. We cannot be doing much else because of our hands being occupied by the cup. The cup of coffee gives us a short goal to complete, and we cannot continue on in our morning or evening until we finish the coffee.

Now, let me pose the question to my readers at Metro Espresso, does coffee make us more philosophical and grave? Please comment below! In order to uplift as well, here is a picture of a dog that appears to be smiling. Clearly he has not had his daily coffee.


  1. Can I say...yes and no. It can definitely get the thoughts going over a cup of coffee, especially if I'm surrounded by relaxing scenery. However, too much of the time, it's sipped while rushing through the day, multi-tasking left and maybe it does make me a little grave too.

  2. I agree, when drinking on the coffee one can impatiently drink it as if annoyed with the world around them for not bending to their needs. Perhaps, one should accentuate the grave aspect as certain times. This leads to a different question, what are the different situations in which we drink coffee, and how do they affect our moods?

  3. Is Schulman reading this? I feel like he absolutely has to read this. Coffee doesn't make me grave - in fact, I think it makes me a better person. I like myself better after a cup or two, and I'm sure others appreciate it as well. Maybe that's just addiction. I can see hot coffee lending itself to philosophy but where does iced coffee go in this? Or is that blasphemy?

  4. I am not quite sure where ice coffee falls as the severe spectrum as did not come into existence till after Swift died. I will ponder this.

    Now that you mention it, Schulman would dig this. For some reason I never connected the two that he would like this. It is A. Damn Funky B. All things coffee C. Philosophical in part.

    I shall work on this.