Unlike virtually articles with a question mark in the headline, author Michael Pollan doesn’t have an answer here. Caffeine makes us more alert, more energetic, and more able to focus on individual tasks.
And yet caffeine also interferes with sleep, exacerbating an invisible, global public health crisis — people don’t get enough good sleep, leading to lives shortened by years, Alzheimer’s, and other serious chronic conditions.
Coffee, delivered in coffeehouses, drove the Enlightenment in England. Tea was foundational to Britain’s cruel imperial expansion in India, and terrible exploitation of factory workers at home.
Ironically, as I’m reading this article I’m drinking my first cup of coffee of the day. It’s delayed, because I exercised first thing in the morning to beat the heat. Coming back home I felt dull, and that first sip of coffee, postponed, had a delightful extra kick to it.