Coffee at the cottage is a very special thing: Enjoying the cool morning air with your hands wrapped around a cup of steaming bliss-in-a-mug is just about the closest you’re going to get to paradise. Even if you don’t actually drink coffee, the smell of a brewing pot on a chilly cottage morning is just the thing to put a spring in your step. In honour of our favourite pre-cocktail hour cottage bevvie, here are 13 reasons why coffee is the awesomest.
1. The stuff is pretty darn popular
The world drinks about 2.25 billion cups of coffee a day. That’s a lot of baristas writing a lot of weirdly spelled names on cups.
2. Coffee is inspiring
At the height of coffee’s popularity in Europe, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a cantata (actually a miniature comic opera) about the stuff. The work essentially outlines a father named Schlendrian (literally, “stick in the mud”) threatening his daughter with various punishments unless she stops drinking coffee. Needless to say, his efforts aren’t successful.
3. It smells like heaven
Almost everyone loves the smell of coffee brewing—but did you even wonder why there’s such a big difference between coffee’s smell and its taste? Once you drink it, the aroma moves from the inside of your mouth up the back of your nose, which tends to change how you experience the flavour.
4. It taste pretty good, too
Coffee isn’t everyone’s favourite flavour, but those who love it, love it a lot. And that’s despite some compounds in coffee that, on their own or in higher concentrations, would actually be pretty disgusting. These include putrescine, which gives rotting meat its grotty smell and taste, and 2-ethylphenol, which has a medicinal, tarry quality.
5. Coffee enjoyment is in our genes
How coffee affects you depends on your genes. Roughly 50 percent of the population metabolizes caffeine slowly, which means the effects of a cup of coffee are felt more strongly and last longer. Folks who metabolize caffeine quickly have to drink more of the stuff to get its wake-up effects.
6. It’s relatively healthy
Coffee’s high levels of antioxidants are thought to be associated with a lower risk of heart attacks, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and early death generally. That being said, caffeine can boost your blood pressure, and if you’re sensitive to it, you actually have an increased risk of a non-fatal heart attack if you consume two or more cups. So be aware, and switch to herbal tea if you’re feeling jittery.
7. Caffeine can help burn fat
Caffeine can boost your metabolic rate between 3 and 10 percent, and has been shown to specifically help burn fat. Not bad for an alkaloid plant toxin!
8. Coffee time is any time, but there is a best time to drink it
The most effective time to drink a cup o’ joe is between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Cortisol—a hormone that helps you feel awake and alert—tends to be highest between 8 and 9 a.m. Drink your coffee as the cortisol starts to wear off, and you’ll get the maximum benefit of caffeine’s perk-up powers.
9. Caffeine increases feel-good dopamine
Caffeine blocks adenosine, which makes you feel sleepy, by binding to adenosine receptors and allowing dopamine—everyone’s favourite feel-good neurotransmitter—to work better.
10. Because goats
According to legend, coffee was discovered after shepherds in Ethiopia noticed their goats were extra frisky after eating coffee berries. This inspired someone to make a beverage from the beans, and the rest is history. (Incidentally, a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony is worth participating in. Watch one here.)
11. It’s a history lesson in a cup
Coffee became popular with the rise of Islam—because alcohol was forbidden to believers, coffee, in some places, was a sociable substitute (although it was banned in Mecca in 1511 because of its stimulant properties). King Charles II of England banned coffee houses in 1675, because he thought people were using them as a cover to plot against him. And in 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia banned coffee because he said it was interfering with people’s beer consumption. (Someone should have told him you can drink both.)
12. Coffee can make you feel happier
The consumption of four or more cups of coffee a day is linked to lower levels of depression—and, surprisingly, it’s not all the dopamine (a.k.a a caffeine high) that’s running around in your brain that’s responsible. Scientists theorize the correlation may be because of coffee’s high levels of antioxidants.
13. You don’t have to drink cat-poop coffee to enjoy your morning cup—but you could
Yes, this is a thing. Kopi luwak coffee is made from beans that are eaten by the Asian palm civet, then partially digested and pooped out. The beans are washed, roasted, ground, and shipped—and sold for ridiculous amounts of money: $100-$600 per pound. Cats not your thing? In Thailand, you can get elephant poop coffee. Or, you know, you could not.