In a recent 1-on-1 meeting with someone on my team the weekly icebreaker that I had set for the meeting was the question: “How do you take your coffee?”. This has stuck with me as a necessary blog post mainly because I also included coffee in the blog tagline: “Thoughts on Engineering. And Coffee”. So let’s talk about coffee.
Coffee is very interesting. The drink itself has a rich history (WPC Score: 23). Apparently the drink didn’t really show up until the 1500s — which is very interesting as I have always figured that it had been around a while being one of the main beverages that seems to be found everywhere along with tea (3rd century China), beer (over 13,000 years old), and water (4.6 billion years give or take a few). According to wikipedia, coffe is thought to have originated in Africa, probably in Ethiopia. The first confirmed evidence of drinking coffee is attributed to monks in Yemen. From there it spread through the Middle East, Asia, northern Africa, Europe, and finally to the Americas. This quick history lesson is not really on topic for this post — but when I sat down to write about coffee I realized that I really had no clue about where it came from and 5 minutes ago would have paired it up with the cocoa bean and called it a day. Cool.
Back to the 1-on-1 and the real reason for this post. After hearing from my teammate about their preference to drink he first cup of the day with a little cream then switch over to black, I was able to witness the stunned expression when I explained that I didn’t drink coffee at all until around age 25 and it wasn’t until I hit my 30’s that coffee became part of my daily routine. The stunned expression in response as followed up by a single question: “How did you make it through the day?”
So why do we crave coffee? using my quick research methodology, the first 4–5 links that pop up on google definitely show a correlation between Engineers and coffee. When someone calls themselves a “unicorn” when stating that they don’t like coffee in a Reddit AskEngineers thread about average cups of coffee drank in a day , it is plainly clear that societal views assume Engineers drink coffee.
In my upbringing the answer of why I didn’t get into coffee is fairly straightforward — the only times that coffee was made at home was when my grandparents would come over for dinner. They both enjoyed a cup of joe after a meal and I remember my mother hauling out the single serve coffee maker to make two steaming cups. As they took it with dessert, usually I was distracted with something sweet at the time so I didn’t think much of it. Then somehow I made it all the way through an Engineering degree without succumbing to the mystical caffeine pull of the dark brew. Looking back — I wonder if I had become a better Engineer if I had been more awake with coffee on those long dark all-nighters in the basement of the EE building??
So why are people, especially Engineers, drawn to coffee? The layers and structure of the various liquids for those of us who do jump in for the straight-black coffee approach are definitely an interesting topic for Engineers to contemplate. People go as far as to make podcasts about it. Even though I don’t have a ton of posts planned about coffee it was prevalent enough in my subconscious that it sounded good as the tagline to this blog. Apparently if you want to ignore the dehydrating aspect of it, there may be a number of health benefits conveyed if you need help convincing yourself that it is good for you.
I met my wife in my late 20s and she was a big coffee drinker. She showed me different ways to drink it and I found that I really liked some of those mixtures a lot. So after all of the arguments, society norms, and everything else the answer for me is very very simple. I just like it. Now please excuse my while I go make another cup of coffee.
By the way — in my humble opinion — here is how to get the best cup of coffee ever that is both easy to make and doesn’t cost a lot. Start with a 12-cup drip coffee maker. In the basket load up 2.5 scoops of Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend Ground coffee. Add to it 2.5 scoops of Starbucks Connamon Dolce coffee. Brew. Once the coffee is ready in a large mug add enough heavy whipping cream to cover the bottom of the cup, add 2–3 splashes of Coffee-mate Peppermint Mocha creamer and 1 packet of stevia or sugar. Fill with coffee. Enjoy!
Originally published at kevinwanke.com on September 21, 2019. Kevin’s blog focuses on advice for new Engineers and for Engineering Managers.