Coffee and stimulants in the Sunday Read

I was working late last night, despite it being Saturday, and I had my last cup of coffee at 11.30pm. I went to bed around 3.30am so this morning had I not had some coffee I’d right now be staring at the screen and rubbing sleep from my eyes instead of writing.

Coffee (or rather caffeine) is the world’s most popular and widely used psychoactive drug. Psychoactive drugs don’t just affect our state of alertness, they also change how our brain works, the mood we are in and how our body reacts to a host of other stimuli and processes. Caffeine is, of course, addictive. At the same time it holds the promise of enhancing the way we function in the physical as well as mental plane.

Coffee, of course, has other, deeper meaning for us at a cultural level. Because we drink so much of it we pay special attention to its preparation and have made it part of the daily ritual that kickstarts our life. It is however its more hidden effects that are of importance to us.

Humans have used (and continue to use) a wide variety of stimulants. Bob Marley sang about the first cup of coffee and Gordon Lightfoot about the second one and in a case Mike & the Mechanics talked about another cup of coffee and in a case of things escalating quickly we Ella May Morse telling us that the number to beat now may be 40.

All this should make you realize that if nothing else we do take our coffee drinking seriously. Seriously enough, maybe, to feel it is an integral part of how we work and even dream. Caffeine, of course, affects our brain. The moment the brain is affected its function is changed and our sense of reality changes with it. Even Johnny Cash has a song about it.

Between 1987 and 1993 in the UK there was the craze for the Gold Blend Couple as a coffee ad became the perfect example of serialized advertising and led to the writing of a hit book.

All of this points to something way deeper and even more serious: our drive to reach the next level of our physical and mental performance. We know, somehow, that what we have, subject to the everyday laws of physics, is somehow never quite enough for what we want to do, what we want to achieve, how we want to think.

We are constantly caught in a process that has us reaching for the stars, craning at the very edge of our every capability and looking to somehow squeeze the last amp of power out of our mental, emotional and physical being. If that is not, somehow, the best definition of living I am not sure what else might be. And, well, it all seems to start, each day with a cup of coffee or, I suppose, for those who might still prefer tea, a jolt of caffeine.

Now, I know that you guys are all about living life on the edge which is why coffee is priority in your weekly shopping and the hunt for something sweet is always successful. So you now have within easy reach a pot of freshly brewed joe. And, of course, the necessary accompaniment by way of donuts, croissants, cookies and chocolate cake. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.