Whether you consider yourself a habitual coffee drinker or not, we have all experienced days in our life that only this muddy brown drink can fuel us through. Whether early in the morning or late in the evening, millions of Americans rely on this caffeine driven beverage to keep us not only awake, but also keep us working. In a society where success is measured by the amount of hours clocked in at work, we have adapted to these excruciating long hours by keeping ourselves fueled on drip coffees, flavored coffees, specialty coffees, and so many others. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, I am well aware that I reside in the coffee-hub of the Pacific Northwest. With the origination of the first Starbucks in Pike Place Market and a boom of coffee stands leading to one residing on every corner, we are never able to fully escape the call of this culture. More than a beverage, coffee consumption has become a way of life for millions of individuals. This essay will explore how coffee has directly translated to a means of staying productive in the workplace and how a constant call for longer hours has driven us to a demand that only caffeine can fulfill.
“As word spread outwards towards the coast of Arabia, the demand for these ‘magical’ red berries grew exponentially.”
With thousands of different flavors of coffee and ways of preparing it, the growth of an equal amount of industries to satisfy our demand has become a necessity in the eyes of Americans. One may ask, however, how did we get ourselves into such a deep need and obsession over such a seemingly simple drink? The answer lies in the Ethiopian Highlands as far back as the tenth century. Although many legends surround the true origin of use the coffee bean, the most popular circulates around a goat herder by the name of Kaldi. When examining his herd of goats after eating red berries off a particular tree, Kaldi began to notice that they “became so spirited that they did not want to sleep at night” (Auffermann 1). After reporting his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, the monk created a drink out of these same berries and found that he was able to stay awake and alert into the long hours of nightly prayer (Auffermann 1). As word spread outwards towards the coast of Arabia, the demand for these ‘magical’ red berries grew exponentially.
By the fifteenth century, the Arabic’s had not only established the cultivation of the red coffee bean, but also began its trade (Auffermann 1). As boats came in and out of the ports, they carried the news of the ‘wine of Arabia’ to their home countries, describing the effects of this long sought after drink. Demand spread quickly worldwide, and although the Arabic’s tried effortlessly to control their monopoly of the plant, the Dutch were the first to successfully obtain seedlings of the plant in the latter half of the seventeenth century (Auffermann 1). Over the next hundred years, seedlings were traded between countries of the Western world, allowing for the exponential growth in the coffee industry. Since the beginning of the tenth century, coffee has been used to keep monks, farmers, and seamen awake and alert into the long hours of the night. Next, I will explore the boom of this industry in more present times, in particular in our homeport of Seattle, Washington.
In 1971, the first Starbucks opened its doors in Pike Place Market, marking the beginning of what would soon become the largest coffee corporation to date. According to their company information page, “The name, inspired by Moby Dick, evoked the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders” (Starbucks 1). Just as the Arabic’s found a love for the magical red coffee berry, the Starbucks corporation found a love of the sense of community and culture this bean provided. Starbucks states in their mission that their goal is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit” (1). This inspiration that they strive to provide comes directly from the coffee bean itself, utilizing the effects of the natural caffeine to increase productivity and awareness. As time progressed and the sixth Starbucks was opened in the Seattle area, the chain provided coffee-based beverages to over seven hundred people daily (Garza 1). As patrons recognized the demand for this beverage, competition spiked and smaller coffee shops began to pop up all over the Seattle area, allowing customers to purchase their coffee effortlessly regardless of their location in the city. With an exponential growth in the industry, Seattle became the origin of today’s coffee culture, supplying the never-ending quest for another cup of coffee.
“Caffeine flows through our bodies, allowing ‘the file of thoughts or tree of ideas [to] jump forward, showing you exactly what you need to do next and how it should be done’”
Seattle is known not only for our innate coffee consumption, but also as a city that never sleeps. There is a constant flow of traffic and businessman lining the streets. As our jobs require longer hours and increased labor demands, how can we possibly keep up? The answer lies in the magical red berries of the coffee plant. Coffee, whether you choose to consume it or not, “keeps economies, businesses, and individuals going” (Roberts 1). On average, the caffeine content found in a single bean of coffee is around 6mg. Multiply that 6mg times the tens of beans used to make your coffee, and you are graced with the amount of caffeine needed to fuel yourself through your workday. As most Americans are forced to juggle family struggles, work pressures, and social interactions in a single instance, our minds are overcrowded with information that is not at all useful in fulfilling our sales quota for the eight-hour day. As the first sip of coffee slides down our throats, we are graced with a calming sensation born from years of coffee consumption. As we reach the end of our pot of coffee, the caffeine flows through our bodies, allowing “the file of thoughts or tree of ideas [to] jump forward, showing you exactly what you need to do next and how it should be done” (Roberts 1).
A workplace without coffee is no workplace at all. Coffee is the backbone of our productivity throughout the day. It forces us to remove ourselves from the stresses we face, to focus on ourselves, and helps us to overcome the afternoon slump. In a study conducted by the company Strong Vend in 2013, daily surveys were issued to the company’s cyber team to observe the effects coffee had on their productivity in the workplace. Over the course of a two-week period, it became clear that the office relied on coffee to fuel themselves through their long workdays. The result of the study concluded that the cyber team’s performance rose by nineteen percent after the consumption of caffeinated coffee, as opposed to a two-week period without the drink (Everage 1). The survey also concluded that employee’s mood increased by fifteen percent, concentration by six percent, and performance by sixteen percent (Everage 1).
“With the heightened ability to concentrate and the caffeine boost to keep our minds turning, we are able to fully apply our cognitive ability to our workload.”
The caffeine contained in coffee has an ability to bind to receptors in our brains to decrease drowsiness. Caffeine also has the ability to increase neuron firing, which in turn stimulates the production of adrenaline throughout our bodies (Nazarali 1). As our adrenaline increases, we are able to recall words from our memory quicker and are able to have higher performance levels later into the day as compared to non-coffee drinkers. As our ability to process information quickens after the ingestion of coffee, we are able to fully apply ourselves to the task presented at hand. When this scenario is applied to the workplace, we have an answer as to why we are able to put in longer hours and increase our workload. With the heightened ability to concentrate and the caffeine boost to keep our minds turning, we are able to fully apply our cognitive ability to our workload for the day. Coffee has been a major player in increasing the productivity of workers worldwide, allowing for exponential growth among companies.
In my personal experience, I have found coffee to have not only the ability to increase my productivity, but also boost my mood and allow me to fully wake up in the mornings. I consider myself a habitual coffee drinker, drinking a minimum of one or two large cups a day. Without my morning cup, I am not only drowsy and sluggish throughout the rest of my day, but find myself crankier and less motivated to complete homework and participate in class. After receiving the rush of caffeine from my coffee, I feel as though I can go through my day a little easier. The more awake I become, the more I am able to put in longer hours on homework, to work a litter quicker at my job, and am able to stay up later without my eyes sneaking closed on me. Coffee plays a large part in my life, helping me push myself to keep moving forward, to keep achieving more, and to do the best I can. Coffee allows me to be increasingly productive in every task I preform, regardless of what the task at hand is.
Whether we find ourselves unable to wake up in the morning, or unable to stay awake at night, coffee has become the answer to our problem of drowsiness. We have found a way to push past the boundaries of our need for sleep, in order to turn out a greater load of work. In order to stay on top in increasingly competitive jobs, majors, internships, and other positions alike, we must turn to this muddy brown drink to keep us feeling productive. As we slowly adapt to the effects of caffeine, we long for stronger and larger amounts of coffee. The coffee culture will always live on as long as there is a need for productivity, both in the workplace and in our personal lives. More than a beverage, coffee consumption has become a way of life for millions of individuals. A way of life that has shaped us into individuals that no longer yearn for sleep, but a way to experience our twenty-four hours in the fullest extent possible.
Auffermann, Kyra. “The History Of Coffee.” National Coffee Association. TheNational Coffee Association of USA, Inc., 2013. Web. 15 May 2015.
“Company Information.” Starbucks Coffee Company. Starbucks Corporation, 2015. Web. 15 May 2015. <http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information>.
Everage, Laura. “Looking to Boost Your Productivity? Coffee May Be the Answer.” Coffee Universe. Bellissimo, Inc., 6 Nov. 2013. Web. 15 May 2015. <http://coffeeuniverse.com/looking-to-boost-your-productivity-coffee-may-be the-answer/>.
Garza, George. “The History of Starbucks.” Catalogs.com Info Library. Catalogs, Inc., 2015. Web. 15 May 2015. <http://www.catalogs.com/info/food/the-history-of starbucks.html>.
Nazarali, Rosemina. “Can Coffee Make Us More Productive?” Ridiculously Efficient. Ridiculously Efficient, Inc., 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 15 May 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fridiculouslyefficient.com%2Fcan-coffee-make-us-productive infographic%2F>.
Roberts, Jeremy. “Coffee. The Backbone of Business and Personal Productivity.” Cloud Productivity. Cloud Productivity, Feb. 2012. Web. 15 May 2015. <http://www.cloudproductivity.net/coffee-the-backbone-of-business-and personal-productivity/>.