“Give me just a moment, and I’ll join the executive board meeting,” said Frank Overstone, CFO of the multinational corporation in whose offices this exchange was taking place. Fifty-three and with silver-grey hair over bright blue eyes, he stood slender and strong in his tailored suits, looking every bit the responsible, experienced business leader that he was.

Frank stopped when his secretary offered him a file. “For the meeting,” she said, and he mouthed a thank-you because he was already on the phone, ordering several relevant subordinates to the office. Someone else handed him something to sign; he read it, then wrote his swirling scrawl across the bottom. Finally he made it into the office, set down the folder on the other documents he needed to bring to the meeting, and reached for his desk.

He lifted a two-foot glass bong to his mouth and, lighting it with a Dunhill silver desk lighter, began to slowly draw the thick white smoke into the tube in a column of compressed air. As the first taste of it reached his mouth, he set down the lighter and whipped the removal bowl from the glass tube, then shotgun inhaled its contents.

Frank was blowing out slowly, filling the room with a sage-wintergreen scent, when Doug Palmerston popped his head in the door. “We’re almost ready, Frank,” he said.

“I’m on my way,” Frank said. “Just needed to refresh my energy. Long days, long nights.”

“Don’t I know it,” said Doug. “Hey, mind if I take a hit?”

“No problem,” said Frank, handing him the tube. Together they walked into the meeting where they would decide the fates of billions of dollars in industry and the people dependent on it.


Sound far-fetched? Substitute coffee for the bong and you have the modern office. That much seems uncontroversial.

Whether coffee is as much of “a drug” as marijuana is harder to calculate. Certainly it has intense mental effects, but drugs have vertical (intensity) and horizontal (“symptoms” of intoxication) properties, and so it is hard to directly compare them. Heroin for example might have the same vertical as methamphetamine, but users are able to be more functional on a daily basis.

However, much like methamphetamine, coffee creates the illusion of not being exhausted. There is no evidence that it improves the output of its workers qualitatively but certainly coffee keeps them in the game and going through the motions longer, and allows them to work longer hours and sleep fewer, even if the quality of their mental health declines as a result.

The Mormons, if memory serves, view coffee as a drug alongside alcohol and tobacco that should be avoided. Perhaps they have it backward: alcohol and tobacco may have more positive effects because they are recreational, but caffeine acts as a subsidy for unhealthy living which enables it to be profitable and seem like a good idea, and that sets the standard the rest of us must emulate.

Modern society seems to thrive on drugs that we do not admit are drugs. Caffeine, painkillers, Valium, anti-depressants and Viagra are among some of the many band-aids applied to a lifestyle that many survive but under which, few thrive.

It is worth thinking about, at least for the duration of this cup of tea.

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22 Responses to “Coffee”

  1. thordaddy says:

    The king of PEDs is still sugar. And it is increasingly clear that its replacement with “sweet” chemical poisons shows Corporate MRKA’s desire for amplified production to be a total fraud.

  2. thordaddy says:

    All food and drug need to be evaluated in terms of “performance enhancement/side effect.” Food and drug with a favorable performance enhancement to degenerative effect ratio are ruthlessly regulated while food or drug with high degenerative effect to low performance enhancement ratio not so much. So real sugar is effectively nonexistent and replaced with poison. Marijuana and steroids/HGH are great for gray law and anarcho-tyrants. And alcohol and coffee are prolific.

  3. I have switched from coffee to tea myself recently. Tea is way cheaper and faster than coffee and leaves me relaxed as well as energized. It would seem to be one thing that the Brits have gotten right all of these years. When I tell people that coffee is a drug, they lash out like any junkie. Maybe the Prophet Joseph Smith wasn’t being a total nut when he forbade “hot drinks”

  4. Hoyos says:

    It is telling that Tories were associated with public houses and Whigs with the newly founded coffee houses.

    Of course I say this while drinking coffee but there you go.

    • Avraham Rosenblum says:

      Israel Abuchatzeira had coffee and tea in the same cup.That is brewed together. He did this I think base on the idea that coffee is more immediate and tea is longer lasting. I think that was just once a day.

  5. JPW says:

    Switching people to decaf surreptitiously spices up the otherwise boring work experience…

  6. Wilson says:

    Coffee is the drink of revolution. If all the coffee in the world stopped existing tomorrow, all of western civilization would be razed to the ground immediately.

    • Avraham Rosenblum says:

      That was Howard Blooms point about when coffee hit Germany and tea came to England. The idea is that it got up people’s energy level. Bach has a cantata about coffee.

    • Ernst says:

      The same could apply to beer. Not to mention smoking makes people more “stable” during the day too.

  7. Coffee does, supposedly, have antioxidants, phenolics, etc…

    I am a fast metabolizer of caffeine. My family tends to drink coffee at all times of the day. Very occasionally, I feel I have had ‘too much’, but the feeling is hard to describe and I doubt it has much too do with caffeine. I do try to keep my coffee drinking in the morning just to help keep my daily cycle straight.

  8. james wilson says:

    From The History of the World In Six Glasses:

    The impact of the introduction of coffee into Europe during the seventeenth century was particularly noticeable since the most common beverages of the time, even at breakfast, were weak ‘small beer’ and wine. … Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved. … Western Europe began to emerge from an alcoholic haze that had lasted for centuries.

    It was dangerous to drink water. I do not have the figures in front of me, but the per capita alcohol consumption in England at that time was more than enough to put man, woman, and child over the legal limit nowadays.

    It seems to me that as we have perfected the art of not dying we have in proportion lost the art of living. I gave up smoking and drinking for purely personal reasons, but I don’t wish that for anyone else. The great plague of our time is obesity. Coffee does not even register on my radar. Bottoms up.

    • Ernst says:

      I’m just curious, what do you mean with art of living?

      • james wilson says:

        It is what is lost when I see a helicopter parent lurking over his three year old pedaling a Hot Wheels tryke with a helmet on his head, and it grows from there.

    • Ernst says:

      Here I’m thinking, if the technological advancement of the west, both scientific and material, was influenced by coffe and tea?
      what would happen if any of those didn’t exist?

      • james wilson says:

        The water being good everywhere and the choice of drinks numerous, nothing would happen, but I suspect stimulants are here to stay as a lifestyle choice. As many right wing philosophers have pointed out, man is not naturally a laboring animal. He will do the minimum necessary to provide. Work was first whipped into a religious fervor by the Protestant revolution, especially the Dutch and their product, the Puritans. It is as George Carlin said, most people work just hard enough to not get fired, and get paid just enough not to quit.

  9. -A says:

    Personally speaking, I am quite fond of both. However, even though it is also a diuretic, I feel more hydrated after drinking tea. Even thick tea like Yorkshire Tea. Earl Grey will always be my favorite though.

    • The amazing part is that this is also true on hot days.

      • -A says:

        I can attest that the “drink something warm if you want to cool off” nonsense is bullshit. However, warm tea loosens things up and gets into dry membranes in the throat much more easily. The body does cool off areas that are affected by direct heat but, that was never enough for hot-natured moi. But yes, a spot of tea at high noon is lovely. Especially in Spring. I don’t like the smell but I have always been fond of tea picnics where the Bradford Pears bloom.

  10. Ernst says:

    I wonder if we left behind as a society coffee, alcohol and smoking, (even all recreational drugs) would this revolutionize society to rebel against the information dominated modern-industrial system, and return to a traditional way of living for people?

    Or is it the other way around?

  11. EX says:

    Amazing how a single substance can have such an influence…

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