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Coffee: An American obsession

January 27, 2012
Christine Weatherman - Community Columnist ( , Tribune Chronicle |

When I was a kid, I thought drinking coffee was really cool. Only adults got to do it and seemed to enjoy it when they did. I remember being fascinated watching my father mix it with coffee ice cubes and milk in the summertime. He said we couldn't have any until our "double digit" birthday, or older than age 10. Once I was actually old enough to drink that first cup, I don't think I enjoyed it very much. As an adult, my fascination for coffee has grown into more of a full-blown addiction, as it has for many folks.

What is it about the tiny coffee bean that's got everyone so hooked? Coffee has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. According to, coffee was believed to have been first introduced in Ethiopia in the early 13th century. In the mid-1600s, coffee was brought to New Amsterdam, a location later called New York by the British. The National Coffee Association ( states that though coffee houses rapidly began to appear, tea continued to be the favored drink in the New World until 1773 when the colonists revolted against a heavy tax on tea imposed by King George. The revolt, known as the Boston Tea Party, would forever change the American drinking preference to coffee.

Resolute coffee consumers are a unique breed, knowing what they want and stopping at nothing to get it. Caffeine addiction is serious business and some businesses take full advantage of our obsession. Withdrawal symptoms can include irritability and depression to name a few. I found out (the hard way) not to come between a hard-core coffee drinker and their perfect cup of coffee. Bad things happen.

When I was in the Navy, I worked in an office with several men. As the new member of the group, I took it upon myself one day to wash out the crud growing inside some of the coffee cups my coworkers had left behind. Boy, was that a mistake. "You washed out all of the flavor," I was told angrily. I never did get that, but never touched anyone's cup again. At one time, my brother and his wife were stopping at their local restaurant at least three times a day to buy huge cups of coffee, even late into the evening.

I remember once my husband and I stayed with my father for a few days. We were both having headaches and were baffled as to why. We later found out that we'd been drinking decaf for three days and didn't know it. Upon immediately purchasing some regular coffee, the headaches stopped.

Years ago, medical researchers believed that the caffeine in coffee was bad for your health, blaming it for everything from heart disease to "stunting your growth." On the contrary, new research suggests coffee isn't as bad as first believed. Newer studies by the Mayo Clinic have shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. It also has a high content of antioxidants (

So cheers, lift those coffee cups up proudly and drink a toast to that delicious brown liquid that more than 54 percent of Americans drink every day.

Weatherman is a Trumbull County resident. Email her at editorial



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