Arthur C. Brooks continues to deliver:
All hail the miracle bean.
I remember the night I fell in love.
The year was 1977, and I was 12 years old. A neighbor kid’s parents had bought an espresso machine—an exotic gadget in those days, even in Seattle. There was just one Starbucks in the world back then, and as luck had it, we lived within walking distance. The neighbor kid and I bought a pound of coffee and had about eight espressos each. Feeling fully alive and inspired to get closer to the universe, I climbed onto the roof of his house. In the process, I cut a gash in my stomach on his gutter. Bleeding profusely, I marveled at how intense the stars were.
Forty-five years later, not a day has gone by that I haven’t renewed my vows with the Bean. I’ve also come to understand how and why coffee captivates me.
Caffeine evolved in certain plants—including coffee shrubs, tea trees, cocoa beans, and kola nuts—as a naturally occurring pesticide to discourage insects from eating them. Stupid bugs. But that doesn’t explain why about 85 percent of Americans consume it in some form each day. (I can only assume that the other 15 percent have no quality of life whatsoever.) The reason is this: When caffeine is ingested, it quickly enters the brain, where it competes with a chemical called adenosine. One of adenosine’s most important jobs is to make you feel tired. Throughout the day, you produce a lot of it to make you eventually relax; neurons shoot it out, and then a receptor, perfectly sized to the adenosine molecule, binds to it, receiving the message that bedtime is approaching…
Read the whole article here.