Never mind all those voices about coffee being good or bad. All food and beverage intake in moderation is alright as far as I’m concerned!
In spite of having been raised in that celebrated coffee metropolis, Vienna, where the fine art of drinking coffee has been cultivated in her famous coffeehouses since 1683, I was for many years a dedicated tea connoisseur. Until I lived in Pune 1, that is. Although I quickly became a chai devotee and ignored those urns holding thin milky coffee, I also succumbed to the thrills of having my own spiral water heater, a jar of Nescafe, and a tin of milk powder in my room; and – mustn’t forget – a roll of Marie biscuits.
While living in Rajneeshpuram I was usually pretty wired up – there was always coffee available and that, together with the free cigarettes became my preferred sustenance and I averaged about ten cups a day. Whenever in India after that time, it was once more chai but when I landed on Bali’s shores, coffee again became my main hot beverage of choice.
Since the advent of the internet with millions of articles published just about everything humans do with and during their lives, the benefits and disadvantages of drinking coffee have been discussed ad nauseam. At the same time a coffee culture has sprung up that has millions of people every day suck an incredible variety of coffee from the little spouts on Styrofoam or plastic cups “on the go”.
I prefer to savor my coffee. I cannot imagine slurping a cappuccino from a plastic mug while dashing to work. The entire experience of sitting at a table and looking at thick foam topped with chocolate or cinnamon dust in say, a leaf pattern, sipping carefully from the rim to get to the coffee underneath is just so precious! Or, imbibing my black coffee in the morning with slight steam spiraling up – how can anybody just pour this divine substance down the throat on the run? To me this is tantamount to sacrilege! But I digress.
In a recent article posted by GreenMedInfo, Sayer Ji elaborates on the matter of coffee being a drug, medicine or sacrament. He says, “…one of the first documented uses of coffee over 500 years ago was in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen where coffee was known as qahhwat al-bun, or, the ‘wine of the bean,’ the phrase which provided the etymological origin of the word coffee. Once lauded as a miracle drug and used as a sacrament in late-night rituals to invoke the sensation of God within revelers, still today, coffee drinkers are known to cast themselves into bouts of coffee-drinking induced reverie and enthusiasm (literally: en ‘in’ + theos ‘god’ or ‘god-filled’) by drinking this strangely intoxicating, and yet somehow still sobering concoction.” There you go … always loved the Sufis…
I was surprised to read that coffee actually has powerful opiate-like properties, both in caffeinated and decaffeinated forms. Ji explains, “The ‘narcotic’ properties of coffee are no doubt due to a complex interplay between a wide range of compounds, but at least one compound has been identified that is responsible for increasing the release of our own opioids within the body: namely, cafestrol, a diterprene found within the oil of coffee, known to have potent pain-killing properties…. Coffee is also a ‘brain-booster’ and contains a compound called trigonelline which both stimulates the release of dopamine (not unlike cocaine), and stimulates neurite outgrowth, which involves the extension of dendrites and axons in neurons and which may compensate and rescue damaged neuronal networks in the aging brain.”
Now what do you know? One of the greatest nutrition philosophers of all time, Rudolf Hauschka (Nutrition: A Holistic Approach), described coffee’s affect on our body-mind as follows:
“Coffee makes us more aware of our bodily structure. And since this structure is so wise and logical, our thoughts become logical in their awareness of it. Coffee thus helps thinking to find a firm foundation. The connection between bodily being and thinking, keeps calling itself to our attention. Coffee has the same effect on digestion that thought has on our upper man, i.e., a properly ordered metabolism goes hand in hand with orderly thinking. Both are founded on a properly ordered physical structure.”
It must be mentioned that coffee “also awakens and stimulates the Qi, as it is known in the Chinese medical tradition. While raising Qi through exercise and energy work is the ideal situation, coffee provides a short-cut which is the modus operandi in the modern world: instant gratification in exchange for (energy) indebtedness.”
Ji concludes, “When used responsibly, however, coffee may be a great boon to health. There are in fact over 40 health conditions which may respond favorably to its use.”
Whatever any scientists may come up with, I hold it with Honoré de Balzac:
“Coffee falls into the stomach…ideas begin to move, things remembered arrive at full gallop…the shafts of wit start up like sharpshooters, similes arise, the paper is covered with ink…”
Bhagawati, Osho News