I swear, Michael Pollan writes the most fascinating books and articles, like this one. He’s a journalism prof at UC Berkeley but hasn’t written any books or created online courses I know of about storytelling. Damn. I would pay.
Anyway, the rise of coffee as he tells it is so very fascinating:
“Coffee owes its global ascendancy to a fortuitous evolutionary accident: The chemical compound that the plant makes to defend itself against insects happens to alter human consciousness in ways we find desirable, making us more energetic and industrious—and notably better workers. That chemical of course is caffeine, which is now the world’s most popular psychoactive drug, used daily by 80 percent of humanity. (It is the only such drug we routinely give to our children, in the form of soda.) Along with the tea plant, which produces the same compound in its leaves, coffee has helped create exactly the kind of world that coffee needs to thrive: a world driven by consumer capitalism, ringed by global trade, and dominated by a species that can now barely get out of bed without its help.”