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The Culture of Coffee Drinkers

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anthropology-in-practice/the-culture-of-coffee-drinkers/

blogs.scientificamerican.com

The Culture of Coffee Drinkers
Coffees offer us a way to look at our relationship to the larger world and see that sometimes our choices are not really our own, to think about how brands and larger market forces can help create what appear to be stable icons in our lives.

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The Caffeinated and the Un-caffeinated

The Caffeinated and the Un-caffeinated

Morning commuters seem to fall into one of two categories:

  • the Caffeinated: ready to take on the day—they're reading their morning papers, or checking email, or reading for pleasure.
  • the Un-caffeinated: with bleary-eyed, they walk more slowly up the stairs and are more irritable when you hurry them along—or hurry by them.

We're taught to look for these traits in connection with coffee.

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Grown Ups and Coffee

By 1988 only 50 percent of the adult American population drank coffee. In 1962, average coffee consumption was 3.12 cups per day; by 1991 had dropped to 1.75 cups per day.

At the onset of the 1980s, coffee growers and retailers realized that the current 20-29-year-old generation had little interest in coffee, which they associated with their parents and grandparents.

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Coffee And the "Me" Generation

For the coffee industry to survive, it needed a new marketing strategy. The consumer was changing and coffee-players needed to pay attention.

Crucial questions the 'me' generation will ask: "What's in it for me? Is the product 'me'? Is it consistent with my lifestyle? Do I like how it tastes? What will it cost me? Is it convenient to prepare?"

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The Value, Quality, and Image of Coffee

The consumer needed to be made more aware of what made coffee worth the price.

So there needed to be a type of coffee to appeal to every person: Coffee for the aficionados, the penny-counters, those on-the-go, and the senior community who were already strong supporters. Coffee was meant to permeate every aspect of life.

Smaller roasters marketing specialty coffee, although slightly more expensive, found a niche to replace the tasteless coffee.

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Coffee: A Boost in Productivity

We have been taught to look for a boost in productivity from this drink. Caffeine makes us feel alert and attentive. It helps us get through those non-optimal periods for productivity when we compelled to be productive anyway.

But coffee became with time more personal, more accessible. The 20 - 29-year-olds began to drink coffee because it meant something to them: a flavor for everyone, a style for every lifestyle.

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Our Choices

Coffees offer us a way to look at our relationship to the larger world and see that sometimes our choices are not really our own.

This is not, of course, to say we enter the market as mere automatons. But we exercise those choices in a world of structured relationships. The 'me' that we have come to emphasize may be less personal than we realize.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Coffee in moderation

Coffee was once believed to be a possible carcinogen. However, the evidence is consistent that coffee in moderation is associated with a lower risk of mortality.

Research found moderate ...

The way coffee is prepared matters

  • Roasting reduces the number of chlorogenic acids, but other antioxidant compounds are formed.
  • Instant coffee may not have the same health benefits.
  • The oil in boiled coffee has cafestol and kahweol, compounds known to raise LDL, the bad cholesterol, and slightly lower HDL, the good cholesterol. However, the clinical significance of such small increases in cholesterol may be questionable.

Coffee and caffeine

  • A typical 12-ounce serving of drip coffee has 200 milligrams of caffeine.
  • Instant coffee has 140 milligrams of caffeine.
  • Espresso has the highest concentration of caffeine, 70 milligrams per one-ounce shot, but is consumed in smaller quantities.
  • Brewed decaf has caffeine too - about 8 milligrams.
  • Some people have a genetic variant that slows their metabolism for caffeine and keeps them awake deep into the night.

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Coffee is better in group tasks

Coffee is better in group tasks

A recent study found that if you have coffee before a conversation, it will actually make you focus better and feel better about the people you are talking to.

The ideal time to drink coffee

If you want to maximize the benefits of caffeine, you should have your first cup about four hours after you wake up.

You are naturally alert when you wake up because your cortisol levels are high. So drinking caffeine first thing is just going to make the drop even harder a few hours later.

Coffee has the potential to extend your lifespan

According to studies, coffee drinkers have a slightly lower risk of death over 10 years (10 to 15%) than those who don't drink it regularly.

Coffee brewing

Coffee brewing

In years passed, coffee drinkers didn't know how coffee was produced or brewed. Coffee was cheap, tasted bitter, and was purposed for medicine or fuel. But over the decades, coffee has ...

Spending a bit more money on coffee

High-quality coffee is more expensive, and spending a bit more means your coffee is more likely to be ethically produced.

Coffee producers have historically been exploited, and even fair trade prices are not always enough. Where possible, buy your coffee from roasters who purchase their beans ethically.

Drink thoughtfully prepared cups

  • Coffee stays fresh only for a limited time. The person making it must know how to brew it properly.
  • Even the best beans brewed the wrong way can produce a bad cup of coffee.
  • To enjoy coffee, look for places with lots of information about their coffee displayed, and/or staff who can answer your questions about the coffee.
  • To brew at home, you're best off learning how to brew well by hand, using a kettle to boil water and one of the dozens of manual coffee devices available on the market.