Wanna grab a coffee?

coffee_cup.JPGWhen was the last time you met with some friends for a coffee? Was it because you were dying for a dose of caffeine or because you wanted to “catch up”?

I found the following quite interesting. Its taken from Haralambos- Sociology Themes and Perspectives

What could we say, from a sociological point of view, about the simple act of drinking a cup of coffee? Well..

Drinking coffee is not just a refreshment. It possesses symbolic value as part of our day to day activities. Often the ritual associated with coffee drinking is more important than consuming the drink itself.

1)For many Westerners, the morning cup of coffee (or tea in my case) is an essential first step to starting the day (sooo true, I need to have my morning cuppa otherwise I’m no good). Morning coffee is often followed later in the day by coffee with others- the basis of a social ritual. Two people who arrange to meet for coffee are probably more interested in getting together and chatting than in what they actually drink. (Again very true, as earlier this week I met with friends I hadn’t seen in ‘years’ and sat in the not most coziest of places and talked over lattes-I’ve just been informed that latte isnt coffee, someone enlighten me).

2) Coffee is a drug, containing caffeine which has a stimulating effect on the brain. Many people drink coffee for the ‘extra lift’ it provides. Long days at the office and late nights studying are made more tolerable by coffee (tea) breaks. Coffee is a habit-forming substance, but coffee addicts are not regarded by most people as in Western culture as drug users. Like alcohol, coffee is a socially acceptable drug, whereas marijuana for example, is not. Yet there are societies that tolerate the consumption of marijuana and cocaine but frown on both coffee and alcohol.

3)An individual who drinks a cup of coffee is caught up in a complicated set of social and economic relationships stretching across the world. Coffee is a product which links people in the some of the wealthiest and most impoverished parts of the planet: it is consumed in great quantities in wealthy countries, but is grown in primarily poor ones. Next to oil, coffee is the most valuable commodity in international trade.

4) The act of sipping coffee presumes a whole process of past social and economic development. Along with other now familiar items of Western diets-like TEA, bananas, potatoes and white sugar- coffee became widely consumed only from the late 1800s. Although the drink originated in the Middle East, its mass consumption dates from the period of Western expansion about a century and a half ago. Virtually all the coffee we drink today comes from areas (South America and Africa) that were colonized by Europeans; it is in no sense a ‘natural’ part of the Western diet.

5) Coffee is a product that stands at the heart of contemporary debates about globalization, international tradde, human rights and environmental destruction. As coffee has grown in popularity, it has become ‘branded’ and politicized: the decisions that consumers make about what kind of coffee to drink and where to purchase it have become lifestyle choices. Individuals may choose to drink only organic coffee, naturally decaffeinated coffee or coffee that has been ‘fairly traded’. They may opt to patronize ‘independent’ coffee houses, rather than ‘corporate’ coffee chains such as Starbucks. Coffee drinkers may decide to boycott coffee from certain countries with poor human rights.

Interesting huh? Something to think about next time you have a coffee…As for moi, I’ll stick to my cups of tea 🙂

God Bless and Dua’s

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~ by usma on 10, February, 2007.

7 Responses to “Wanna grab a coffee?”

  1. LOL!! i can not believe u wrote a whole essay on coffee!!LOL.but i am impressed on your research and yes it is very interesting.but i personally believe its not always the environment that makes the atmosphere ‘cosy’, rather it is the company. as my wise best friend once uttered the metophoric beauty of ‘cosiness’ by saying..’the comfort of a sofa does not compare to the comfort of a friend’..aaahhhhhhhh 🙂 (but i doubt she remembers saying that).

  2. As my wise best friend once uttered the metophoric beauty of ‘cosiness’ by saying..’the comfort of a sofa does not compare to the comfort of a friend’..aaahhhhhhhh
    yes aaahhh indeed, what your friends name? should take up spending some time with her!!
    yes …ahhh the delights of the humble bean..so cacooned in its purity. the thick black substance, sometimes referred to as ‘black oil’ is there for the good times…;-)cool dude and the bad. its our comfort on the lone winter days and our pleasure in the company of our loved one’s.

    soo which should it be? the Teeeeee? or the coffeee?
    well I for one have to opt for the coffee- when times have been rough..we settled for the brown water served in the average Percy Ingle *shudders* who I dont even why they even try to imitate compeltly dimnishes the idea of smooth velvety taste. Its many ways of seduction, theliquid form inotxicates even the coffee illiterate passing through the starbucks and MY PRET(S)!

    and I totally agree with Haralambos its ability to meddle through to the engine of finance to the coffee bean growers in columbia..power to the Santos!!

    ps. the rather cosy place…did you not have the best quality time in that dingy staircase?? desperate times called for desperate measures!

  3. dude, I didn’t write an essay on coffee-lol and razipoo sometimes i get lost reading what you write :S but I agree with both of you in that the company definitely makes the whole ‘ritual’ better but it’s always been the Tetley teabags that have been there for me. Theres nothing that a cup of tea won’t sort out and raziha don’t try to deny that the tea hasn’t calmed you down in your states of panic- drinking tea reduces stress levels, not only am I a witness to that but I read it in the Metro too (lol).

    Actually,my nutritionist should be able to tell us a bit more on the benefits of tea.

  4. Assalamu alykum,

    I aint no nutritionist…not yet anyway! lol

    I remember hearing years ago in a Shaykh Hamza Yusuf talk, that coffee was first drunk in Yemen by the Muslims. They were so thirsty for seeking knowledge, they would sacrifice their beds to stay up all night. The problem they faced was sometimes it was difficult for them to stay up the whole night. They had heard of the coffee plant in Ethiopia. The muslims in yemen were the first to drink coffee so they could continue learning the Quran and praying throughout the night. From yemen it spread to the rest of the Arab world through to Europe.

    Interesting point you make about tea calming you down usma, a recent study carried out by UCL concluded that an afternoon cup of tea helps put you in a good mood by reducing levels of perceived stress!! But guys go easy on the tea and coffee yeah too much of it is not good! Its funny caffeine is the most widely consumed and socially acceptable drug in the world today, but their was interestingly a time when countries wanted to ban consumption of it!

    Tea contains antioxidants called flavanoids and they are thought to reduce blood pressure and hardening of the heart. This has been found when drinking black and green tea. Be warned though that adding milk to tea can destroy and reduce the antioxidant properties of tea! Ideally it would be best to drink tea without the milk.

    Lastly if you are anaemic (or a young lady in particular) you should avoid drinking tea and coffee during meal times because they can reduce the amount of iron that the body absorbs, instead drink a citrus drink like orange juice because vitamin c has been documented to increase the absorption of iron!

  5. “a recent study carried out by UCL concluded that an afternoon cup of tea helps put you in a good mood by reducing levels of perceived stress!!”

    wohooo! 🙂 grumpy people should drink chai

    there was an article in the Independent about the origins of coffee..

  6. cofee makes me sleepy :s … i dont get it??

  7. Usma Usma Usma….y u go n ruin ma experience of cofee… like ur “essay” by the way. a lil reminder…wen u gna start dem other essays 😛 (sowi :p )

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