The Culture of Coffee Drinkers

Scientific American:

The idea of the morning person aside, morning commuters seem to fall into one of two categories: the Caffeinated and the Un-caffeinated—the latter category being those who intend to consume coffee, but haven’t quite gotten their morning java yet. And they’re easily recognizable as such. The Caffeinated are bright-eyed and engaged with the day’s events already—they’re reading their morning papers, or checking email, or reading for pleasure. They’re sometimes armed with travel mugs or Ventis from their coffee shop of choice. They rattle the ice in the clear plastic beverage cups from mobile vendors on summer days. They walk a little faster in the early hours having long left last night behind.

This is not the case for the Un-Caffeinated. This group sleeps through the AM commute both on the commuter trains and the subway.They’re bleary eyed. Materials they intended to review lie unattended in their laps while they linger in the previous night. They walk more slowly up the stairs and are more irritable when you hurry them along—or hurry by them. They stroll, they trudge, they linger.

The line that runs out the door of the Starbucks across from my job never seems to shrink. Are the ranks of the Caffeinated growing? Will we soon be overrun by manufactured “morning people”? As the would-be Caffeinated stumble toward their favorite dispensaries, they have little sense of how they have been drawn to coffee-drinking. The categories of Caffeinated and Un-caffeinated are introduced in this discussion for ethnographic purposes. Though they exist in my mind, they may seem familiar to you because we’re taught to look for these traits in connection with coffee. So though I may have taken some liberties in simplifying them, these identities and associations have been honed by the coffee industry over the last thirty years. The culture of coffee has been carefully cultivated to ensure maximum reach.

Read the whole story: Scientific American

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