Apparently coffee, and the subsequent coffee-house culture that arose from its consumption, were catalysts for spreading the Enlightenment. Historian Tom Standage, corroborates this claim, asserting that,
“The impact of the introduction of coffee into Europe during the seventeenth century was particularly noticeable since the most common beverages of the time, even at breakfast, were weak ‘small beer’ and wine. … Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved. … Western Europe began to emerge from an alcoholic haze that had lasted for centuries.”
Ok, I’ll buy this. In fact, I think it is more or less analogous to the college experience. We spend much of the semester walking around in a drunken haze (albeit not every day, and probably not in the morning), partying and socializing. Everything still gets done when it should, but a couple drinks, poor health and a lack of sleep often hinder people from functioning at 100%.
And then finals come. Suddenly, everyone’s up 18 hours in a row sucking down coffee faster than they can brew it. That kid in your class is blowing Adderall in the bathroom stall cause coffee just doesn’t cut it anymore. Libraries are full of students studying and discussing things they should have been learning beforehand, but alcohol and generally lethargy got in the way. A whole semesters worth of learning, condensed into two weeks. Just imagine if people functioned at such a high level of productivity all the time.
Without coffee, most of these people would fail. That’s just a fact. So with finals coming up, take a minute to thank that beautiful roasted bean that has, for centuries, provided humanity with that little extra push to get things done.