As a fully fledged millennial thick in the throes of my twenties, you might expect a few of my favorite things to consist of avocados, podcasts and fancy coffee. You’d be correct on all counts; I live for a steady stream of sweet, sweet caffeine flowing through my veins, no matter the form it’s served to me in. My favorite though, is the potent, frothy cappuccino, but I generally save that for a special occasion (you know, like a Friday night).
On a daily basis, I’m a plain ol’ drip coffee – no sugar with just a bit of milk – kind of guy. And after about a year of being what I imagine qualifies as a caffeine fiend, I can say that like my interest in avocados and podcasts, my fixation on coffee is something of a lifestyle choice (yes, I just said avocados were a lifestyle). For better or worse, the path of a caffeine freak is the life I’ve chosen to lead. But while I do enjoy my daily cup or three, I’ve certainly found that there are ups and down that go along with downing the jitter juice (I guess people actually say that?). As I walk this path, I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here’s a glimpse at a day in the life of a caffeine fiend.
For many people, getting wired on coffee or tea is a daily activity. As a recovered (and happily relapsing) caffeine freak, I can tell you that getting wired can actually mean getting rewired… as in rewiring your brain to always crave your rush of caffeine in higher doses.
Caffeine blocks the brain’s uptake of a compound called adenosine, which creates a feeling of sleepiness in the body. Chemically, caffeine is quite similar in structure to adenosine. This allows caffeine to fit into adenosine receptors and give you a burst of alertness.
Over time though, the brain compensates for this by creating more adenosine receptors, giving your sleepiness chemicals more of a chance to pair with receptors (here’s a video for more on that). This is why any good journey toward caffeine dependence includes an increase in the amount of caffeine consumption needed to satisfy the drinkers’ urge – it’ll always take more and more to create the caffeine fix you crave.
Bursts of Creativity.
When it comes to caffeine and alcohol, there is a prevailing school of thought hailing alcohol as the giver of creativity; the half of the drinkable duo the strikes the thirsty with fresh ideas and a state of mind conducive for enhanced creativity. The inhibitions are gone, reducing the self-judgement that might otherwise keep you from putting your immediate thoughts to paper. That’s not to say that every idea that comes to mind is a brilliant one, but it can help get the ball rolling and open the flood gates for creativity.
I certainly wouldn’t disagree with this school of thought, as a tasty brew or two has been known to inspire me to do a bit of writing, but I definitely wouldn’t constrain caffeine’s benefits to only enhanced focus and motivation to work on these creative ideas. Caffeine seems to send my brain moving a mile a minute in whichever direction I’m headed, and I think this accelerated thinking helps generate new ideas on its own. It can help formulate big-picture thoughts and create a plan of attack for what I’m working on. It can help create concepts at a high level and then give you the focus to execute. Having said all this, I totally wouldn’t disagree with the idea of letting alcohol be your guide to gushing creativity in the form of writing or any other creative pursuit, and then letting caffeine help clean up any messiness left over (figurative and actual).
But to go along with what I was saying about caffeine and creativity, I definitely feel that an accelerated train of thought, combined with improved focus, is very beneficial for creativity. Especially from a source reported to have many potential health benefits, including potentially reducing your risk for dementia.
But when my mind moves quickly, so do my words. I become eager to expand on whatever I’m talking about and I won’t hesitate to jump into a conversation if I feel like caffeine has blessed me with a brilliant contribution that cannot go unuttered. Do these nuggets always turn out to be golden? I’ll go ahead and say no, and I’ll also apologize in advance for any impertinent conversational interruptions.
Coffee as a Social Experience.
One of the best things about coffee is that it becomes a social experience for the drinkers. It’s something to become knowledgable about, to push yourself to develop a palate for – it’s like realizing that something is good because so many other people praise all the varieties it’s available in. I’d say most coffee drinkers probably have favorite coffee beverages, even if that really only means they prefer one espresso-to-milk ratio over another (cappuccino, macchiato, latte… the difference is minimal, right?). While telling the difference between beverages may sometimes seem like splitting hairs, it’s these delicious details that make developing a knowledge and palate for the numerous forms of coffee so interesting.
And what better place to get to know coffee than through the coffee house experience? The alluring smell of roasted coffee, the seemingly infinite varieties to enjoy, the wooden tables, creaky floors, and overall feeling that this would be the perfect environment to write the Great American Novel… you sort of feel cooler just for being there, right? That’s the coffee house experience, at least for me.
Immersion into coffee culture is possibly as big a part of being a coffee drinker as the actual drinking of coffee… when there are drinks out there like cappuccino and cortados which are only separated in definition by the slightly different amount of milk used, it’s easy to want to become (and even fool yourself into thinking you’re…) an aficionado. Plus, when you’re a millennial and your generation is defined by food mashups like this, its important to know what all the buzz is about!
So there you have it… what it means to be a coffee freak, right here in a nutshell. It’s got its pros and cons, but hey, if I get my caffeine buzz each morning (and mid-morning… and afternoon), then I’m happy. And if I ever feel the need to cut back… well, I’ve heard decaf cappuccinos aren’t so bad.
Have your own thoughts on coffee and all its delicious glory? Let’s hear it! Leave a comment below!