A few days ago an obscure yet important holiday was celebrated. You may have heard of it, especially if you're the type of person who enjoys hot brown beverages. It was International Coffee Day. Like many people with a desk job I enjoy coffee, so I took advantage of the holiday and found myself a free cup from Wawa. While enjoying my drink, I got to thinking about the holiday itself. How did it come to be? Who came up with the idea? These thoughts inspired me to do some Googling.
What is International Coffee Day?
International Coffee Day is an event held annually for the celebration of coffee. It is held on October 1st and was first held in 2015. The event was created and organized by the International Coffee Organization (ICO), an intergovernmental body whose goal is "bringing together exporting and importing Governments to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation." Apparently, they're a pretty big organization too as their membership includes 98% of the world's coffee producers. If you want to read more about the holiday and ICO, they have a website found here.
But why coffee?
Unfortunately, that website doesn't go into too much detail about the reasons behind the holiday. There's a small blurb about bringing beans to your mug. Beyond that, my assumption is that International Coffee Day is just a marketing gag done every year, though that's not very exciting. Especially if you consider that someone thought real hard about ways to convince a bunch of private businesses to give out coffee. I have to imagine there's more to it. Besides, who benefits from giving out free drinks? Is it about awareness ? Or does someone really like coffee?
Whatever the reason, coffee is certainly prolific enough to warrant its own celebration. Economic estimates from 2005 place coffee as the 7th largest legal agricultural export for the world. In fact, if you look at agricultural futures right now, you'll see that coffee per pound is more expensive than live cattle. Our society has become addicted to this beverage. Not only figuratively, as represented through media, but also through biochemical means.
It is featured so heavily in entertainment that it's become a cultural phenomenon. Take a look: I prepared a few quotes, just to point out the emphasis in television.
Captain Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager:
"Commander, set a new course. There's coffee in that nebula."
"Coffee—the finest organic suspension ever devised. It has got me through the worst of the last three years. I beat the Borg with it."
Lorelai, Gilmore Girls:
"Oh, I cant stop drinking the coffee. I stop drinking the coffee, I stop doing the standing and walking and the words-putting-into-sentence-doing."
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report:
"I believe the president’s salute was a latté disrespect. It was un-Americano. This is a mocha-ry of our military that should have us flying our flags at half-caf. No Sanka you, sir, not in my Maxwell House. It makes me unfrappy to see. We gotta put that dopio on an espresso train to cappu-China before it’s too café au late. Thank you for letting me venti my anger."
This is only three examples, but there's certainly more. Just think about the show Friends which almost exclusively takes place in a coffee shop. I think it's so ubiquitous in media that it's hard to imagine television and movies without it. However, try to picture it this way: instead of coffee, imagine cigarettes in its place. If you do that, I believe you'd see how abundant coffee has become.
Fortunately, our admired hot beverage is pretty decent to drink. Without any additions like cream or sugar, coffee is virtually calorie free. Studies indicate that it can also help you reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes regardless whether you take it decaf or not. There's a variable amount of research on whether or not it can be used to reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease considering it's rich in antioxidants, but nothing recognizable.
All that said, coffee contains a lot of caffeine. Consuming caffeine in large quantities can really mess up your nervous system and is addictive. It's a stimulant. Although a weak one, you can still develop a dependency. However, it's also the primary selling point of our favorite pick-me-up.
It almost feels like a feedback loop. Society says, "Lattes are great!". So you try one, which you may or may not enjoy the taste of, but let's suppose you do. Without thinking about it, you might become ever-so-slightly addicted to the substance and find others who like it too. They in turn inspire others and more others until society itself is entirely addicted and brown liquid is dripping out of your television. Thus you end up with a strange holiday celebrating a weird little drink: International Coffee Day.