Benjamin Franklin said there are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. Although true, I could add another to that list of certainties, and that’s my cup of coffee in the morning.
Coffee is the one thing I can count on. Often in life it can feel like a new curveball is thrown your way every day. You wake up after a great sleep on your latex pillow and your schedule quickly goes out the window. Conflicting family schedules, kids, and daily responsibilities are all competing for our attention. But, before your day goes array, your morning can be peaceful. Depending on when your alarm goes off (or your kids wake up), you could enjoy some cherished moments of solitude.
This is why my first cup of coffee in the morning is so important to me. It’s an integral part of my morning routine. It’s consistent. Rain or shine, I can count on those quiet moments enjoying my freshly roasted cup of coffee. I have invested in quality grinders, freshly roasted beans, organic filters, and makers. Some may even say I’m obsessed – and I’m okay with that.
The sound of my coffee maker brewing makes me happy. And when spending time in the great outdoors, after an amazing sleep on my camping pillow, coffee somehow tastes even better.
Coffee is an experience for the senses. It makes us feel good and can even be good for us. Plenty of research has uncovered the multitude of health benefits of coffee (read more on our blog Is Coffee Bad For You?)
I am not the only one with a coffee obsession. Millions of others, just like me, need their morning coffee. Here are a few stats released by The National Coffee Association (NCA) last year:
- 70% of Americans drink coffee at least once a week
- 62% of Americans drink coffee daily
- Those that do have coffee daily drink an average of 3 cups a day
- 60% of coffee brewed in the United States is from gourmet or premium beans
- Cold-brew has increased significantly in popularity, with 1 in 5 Americans under 40 years old having one a week
As you can, most of us really, really enjoy our coffee! So, why are we so obsessed?
Yes, coffee can give us a boost in energy (thanks to caffeine), and yes, it can provide us with some physical health benefits, but these aren’t the only reasons we love it. We love it because it connects us, can improve our mental health and help us start our day in a positive headspace.
Coffee can create a sense of community and connection
Coffee connects us. You may have gone to a café on a first date or met up with a friend for coffee when they were going through a difficult time. It may be how you got to know your new neighbor or how you were able to rekindle a friendship. Or, just sitting quietly next to your partner sipping coffee in the morning can anchor you in and help you connect without needing to utter a word.
“Want to grab a cup of coffee after work?”
“Come by for coffee, and we’ll talk it over.”
“I’m here for you. Call me anytime you feel down, and we’ll have coffee.”
“I haven’t seen you in so long! Let’s go to Starbucks and catch up.”
“Thank you for coming. There is coffee and cookies in the kitchen.”
We’ve all said the phrases above and met someone for coffee. Coffee is served at bridge clubs, book clubs, bible studies, support groups, and business meetings.
Before reading this post, you likely hadn’t considered how coffee had weaved its way into your daily interactions. This is because it has become so common. It’s often the first thing a person will offer when guests come over. Supermarket stores are lined with K-cups and bags of freshly roasted beans or coffee grounds from all over the world. There are drive-thrus and cafes on almost every block. In Berkeley, California, there is one coffee shop for every 2,073 people! Coffee has become a part of our culture; it is our “coffee culture.”
Coffee culture is an actual term defined as the social behaviors and cultural patterns surrounding coffee. With coffee, it becomes easier for us to engage in social interactions. It provides comfort and ease. It is calming, allowing us to adapt to various settings and social situations. So although you may obsess over the flavor of coffee, you are also likely a fan of coffee culture and its ability to connect us.
Drinking coffee is a mindfulness practice
A friend of mine has a sacred morning routine that she has dubbed her “mindful mornings.” Although you may picture her sitting cross-legged on their meditation pillow, it’s just her enjoying her first cup of coffee in her sunroom.
The secret to these “mindful mornings” is to wake up before the rest of her family. She then brews a pot of coffee, pours it into her favorite mug, and sits in silence, savoring each sip. She doesn’t read the paper, watch TV, scroll on her phone or check her emails. Instead, all her attention is on her coffee – the temperature, the feeling of the mug, the flavors, and the aromas. She sits in her favorite chair next to the window, and for the next 15 minutes, she drinks coffee as her mindfulness practice.
At first glance, it may seem like someone is simply drinking a warm beverage and nothing more, but this practice benefits her mental well-being. Her same morning ritual is practiced by many others and is even encouraged by some large corporations. The practice is being called a Coffee Meditation, and it is incredibly beneficial as it provides mental clarity and reduces stress. Meditation and mindfulness, even when over a cup of coffee, can equip you with greater resiliency, increased energy, and creativity.
You can try it yourself. Sit on your meditation cushion or favorite chair. First, hold your coffee mug in both hands. Now draw your attention to the cup and focus on the warm temperature. Inhale and exhale and continue focusing on this for a few moments. Next, move your face over your mug and smell the aromatic notes of your freshly brewed coffee. Think about what you smell – are there any cocoa, nutmeg, or fruit notes? Finally, take your first sip and savor each moment. Pay attention to the feeling of the warm coffee and enjoy the flavors.
This quick meditation that can take as little as 5 minutes will settle your mind. In your coffee meditation, you won’t be thinking of items to add to your grocery list or your ever-growing to-do list. Instead, it forces you to be in the present moment giving you all the benefits of mindfulness meditation.
Coffee improves our mood and our mental health
Coffee doesn’t only benefit our physical health, but it is scientifically proven to have a positive effect on our mental health as well. Research has found that by drinking coffee, you can reduce the risk of depression by one-third. Professor Dr. Alan Leviton of Harvard Medical wrote a paper entitled Coffee Consumers Less Likely Than Others To Be Depressed. In the report, he reviewed over 100 meta-analyses and peer-revied studies covering more than 300,000 individuals. The research was focused on depression and coffee. He found that those who drank coffee were significantly less likely to be depressed than those who did not.
Dr. Leviton concluded the paper, “Coffee’s positive impact on mental health appears to be related to its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and microbiome-promoting properties, which are also associated with coffee drinkers’ reduced risk of developing certain cancers and chronic diseases.” In this review, some of the studies cited stated that the caffeine in coffee had the effect as it was able to block mood-depressing chemicals in the brain. Additionally, caffeine improves mental function and concentration, which makes it easier to tackle your day.
Those with a self-proclaimed coffee obsession know just how special coffee is. It makes us feel good and our coffee culture connects us. It acts as a social lubricant making everything from business meetings to book clubs a little more enjoyable. So, after a great night’s sleep on your buckwheat pillow at night, spend those extra moments enjoying your cup of coffee mindfully. Enjoying a cup of delicious, fresh roasted coffee in the morning is one of the easiest ways to start your day off right, connect with others and even improve your mental health.
There is no need to feel guilty if you are obsessed with coffee – you aren’t the only one, and you have a good reason! So, have that second cup, get that freshly roasted blend, or invite your new neighbor over for a coffee. Because it’s not just coffee…. it’s connection and can make the rest of your day that much better!