How Coffee Changed My Life

Coffee could mean different things to different people. It could be a stress reliever, a social drink, a time killer, an energizer, an antidepressant, or simply a satisfaction to the taste buds. Its meaning could be as basic as just “coffee” or as profound as a quencher to the human soul — whatever it is, some people just can’t live without it.

When I was a kid, I never understood how my father used to be so obsessed with coffee. He would wake up early in the morning and would start stirring his cup in a fashionable manner. It felt like it was his morning prayer, a subtle “let’s do this” to start the day. The routine was just perfect. For a kid as young as 12, it seemed like a forgettable groove. To him, it was quintessential.

It wasn’t until college when I realized I needed some kick in my oh-so-diligent-student-life. The pressure of deadlines and keeping my future intact pushed me to crave for caffeine, so I could extend my waking hours and finish my student dues. True enough, it worked like magic the first time. I never felt so smart from the medium-sized mocha hot coffee that hit me. Each ounce pumped through my veins as if it was releasing all my “intelligent hormones” or whatever. And it worked! I even promised myself to only drink coffee when I badly need it. At the time, I must have mistaken it for some mythical rock I need to reserve only for dire situations.

But it wasn’t just mythical. The health benefits of coffee are real. In fact, it is composed of antioxidants and nutrients beneficial for our health as it reduces the risks of several serious diseases such as type II diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. It protects our liver, helps us improve our physical performance by increasing Epinephrine — a type of hormone that prepares our body for intense physical exertion. In addition, caffeine can aid in boosting our metabolic rate by 3-11%, helping us burn fat. Ultimately, caffeine makes us smarter by increasing our energy levels and cognitive functions.

Anyway, when I started my professional career, however, my perspective of coffee changed a bit. I drank coffee to socialize with my colleagues and friends — perhaps it was the only way we could spend some good time sans the alcohol. Years and years and it became a weekly habit — a time to relax, sit back, catch up, and literally stop worrying about the passing of time. A meaningful conversation with my friends over a cup of coffee felt like a wisdom booster. It helped me think about what’s ahead of me, what I have to accomplish in the next 5 years, and what I needed to do with my life. I had every reason to believe that the coffee culture made me a more sociable and reflective person. Coffee is indeed, a social atmosphere in some way.

But it didn’t end there. Coffee, in one way or another, has become my happy pill. Waiting for the sunrise in a beautiful cold morning while sipping a cup of espresso — eyes closed, ears opened — is one of the best feelings in the world. It would drown whatever ill feeling I had the night before, and would bring me back to my senses every time I lose touch of reality. There were bad days, yes, and coffee became my supplementary reliever.  It was okay to be alone — I had my favorite cup anyways.

Scientifically speaking, coffee stimulates the release of dopamine — a marijuana-like neurotransmitter system that produces positive feelings or euphoria. In fact, caffeine is considered as one of the highly used psychoactive substance in the world. It arouses the mind, where memories gallop magnificently, and ideas pour forth like hail storms. That hot brown or black mix taps into the reward system of our brain, which explains why we get pleasure in every cup, making it harder for us to avoid the second or third cup of our morning brew.

So looking back to my childhood, I wasn’t really sure how my father had seen the coffee he used to drink. Whether he could live, or couldn’t live without it, I wouldn’t be able to tell now, but he sure had his own thoughts about it. People have their thoughts about it. It is a drink, or a memory, or a resemblance, or a shadow, or a season, or a future — anything but absolutely something more than a bunch of molecules loosely tied together. If you see someone devouring a cup java, it isn’t just java.

I see coffee in many perspectives, basically because of the many different stages I have gone through with my life. It is my mental booster, my social partner, and my happy pill. It fills my soul like an oasis in the desert, or a star in a moonlit sky. Because to me, coffee isn’t just coffee. It is a gift. It is a million other different things — special things. It is a way of life.

How do you see your coffee?

Written by: Guest Post

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