A coffee a day keeps the doctor away

Parsa Keshavarz Alamdari, Columnist

Illustration by Madeleine Stolp.

Coffee is the best beverage in the world—at least I prefer to think so. Its taste and aroma are enough to calm me down or give me the motivation to finish my day. Even though some people call my coffee-drinking habit an addiction, I think that taking a couple of minutes off every day to drink some coffee could be life-saving.

Last year when I was preparing for my senior exams in Norway, I suddenly got burnt out. I began to have awful headaches and brain fog. When I went to see a doctor, she just simply told me to “take a break and have some coffee.” Apparently, I also had a vitamin D deficiency, thanks to the Norwegian winter.

I know that she was just telling me to take it easy, but as an already established coffee drinker, I took her advice to heart. Now, more than a year later, brewing coffee every morning is almost a ritual for me.

Believe it or not, I got hooked on coffee, not because of its caffeine (although admittedly, it was partially for that sweet, beautiful buzz) but because of its flavor and aroma. Not only the caffeine, but the warmth and the bitter and savory taste of coffee helps me through my day.

Coffee is the third most consumed beverage worldwide, after water (obviously!) and tea. Americans drink on average three cups of coffee every day. However, the record belongs to the lovely Finns who on average go through more than 26 pounds of coffee every year. Other Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) are also among the top coffee drinkers.

The coffee culture in Scandinavia is very strong. In Denmark, pastries and coffee are essential to Hygge, a Danish and Norwegian concept (read lifestyle) for being cozy. Swedes also take a break every day to Fika: drink coffee, have pastries and socialize with friends and coworkers.

Why is coffee so important in Scandinavian culture? The simple answer is to cope with the dark and cold winter. However, it is also an opportunity to take a break every once in a while, to relax, socialize and take it all in one step at a time.

When I visited Stockholm in December 2019, when traveling was still normal, I went to a cafe to have coffee and Fika (yes, Fika is also the name of the pastry) with some friends. We were just sitting there, talking for an hour, sipping coffee and eating pastries. It was a magical experience.

With finals approaching fast, we all are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. However, it is important to remember that we are, as Aristotle puts it, “social animals.” We all need to take a break, socialize and relax.

Let’s all include having coffee and a pastry with friends in our daily routine. Thanks to Cleve, JCafe and Reid Market, having quality coffee is easier than ever. (Dear Bon App, please change your blends! Love, Parsa.) The Patisserie also has some of the best pastries I’ve had in a while, so try that as well. (This message is not sponsored, but we can negotiate.)

If you’re not a coffee drinker or one of those who keep telling me that I’m addicted to coffee, no problem! You still can have decaf coffee, tea, orange juice, literally anything! The spirit of socializing in a cozy cafe is what I’m talking about!

In the early 1600s, coffee was known in Europe as the “devil’s drink,” since it was associated with Ottoman Muslims at the time. However, when Pope Clement VIII tried it, he reportedly said “This Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it,” and blessed it.

Let us all have some of this “blessed” drink once in a while and socialize with friends. Drinking coffee a couple of times a day and relaxing helped me overcome my burnout. I hope it helps you too!