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Many people in my generation have seen the popularizing of coffee drinks over their lifetime from just that drink that was offered to our parents after dinner at a restaurant to the "coffee shop on every corner" present. And it's true that coffee has been popularized in recent years in ways that it hasn't been in the past. Most coffee is served darker than it once was. With Starbucks and coffee chains like it advertising dark brews the tendency of many is to look for the darkest brews that they can. Several TV shows and movies have also done their part in popularizing the drink. The WB's Gilmore Girls were almost constantly drinking coffee in every episode. Movies like Reality Bites integrated a ritual of "coffee and conversation" into the romance between the two main characters. Hollywood is always bringing coffee onto the silver screen.

It would seem that the use of coffee in popular culture is mostly an American thing, but it couldn't be any further from the truth. Coffee was actually discovered in Ethiopia. It was the Arab nations that first turned it into a popular drink. The stimulating effects of coffee were even beneficial for their religious culture. With being called to pray five times daily, they found that the drink helped keep them awake during prayer times. The use of coffee as a popular drink eventually took in Europe when they, too, enjoyed both the taste and the stimulating effects. Soon, with more of the world drinking coffee, demand went up and supply was not as plentiful to Arabs. It was during this time that coffee shops began to open serving only coffee on the menu. With the busy schedules of the Arabic culture, the business of served coffee took off with much success. With coffee shops being frequented by so many people, socialization happened and eventually coffee shops became equally about socialization as they were about serving coffee. Because of all the conversations and debates that would stem from this social interaction, coffee became viewed as a drink for intellectuals.

Today's modern coffee shop was born. Not in Seattle. Not in the United States. And not even remotely close to this century. Coffee shops have been around for a long time, and the people that hang out at them have for just as long felt that they were intellectually superior to those who didn't.

Many coffee drinkers have found a need for the drink to even properly function throughout the day. As humorously depicted in this Dilbert comic, some people feel like they have replaced their blood with coffee and constantly need to replenish their tanks with fresh cups. I'm definitely nowhere near this group, but I do find that more days than not I will have coffee at some point in the day. Caffeine doesn't really affect me like it does others and I've been known to say that I can drink a pot of coffee and then go right to sleep. And, I've done it plenty of times. The bonus of this tolerance is that I can drink coffee whenever I feel like it and I don't have to worry that I'll be punished with restless sleep for it. The con, however, is that it also fails to wake me up like it does for most people. I can't use it as a tool to help me drive at night, or get around quicker in the morning, or any other popular and tangible use.

Even with the ineffectiveness of its stimulating properties, I still enjoy coffee a lot. It's how it makes me feel when I drink it. Somehow, I feel better with a cup of it. I feel cozy wherever I might be. I feel a little happy even if I have reason to feel something else. Work seems more enjoyable while drinking it. Fun seems more fun. I eagerly look forward to that cup when I know that I'll be getting some soon. There is a reason why a good host or hostess will offer coffee to their guests. It just makes most people happy. I prefer to view the world through my coffee goggles.


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