Caffeine - How coffee and tea created the modern world

Written By Adam Drake

3 min read

Michal Pollan - Caffeine - How coffee and tea created the modern world

There is a pretty high chance, given the statistics, that you consume caffeine on a daily basis. Whether in tea or coffee, soft drink or some other form over 90% of the world’s population consume caffeine on a daily basis. Have you ever stopped to think about how this little plant, originally from Ethiopia, has had such a profound effect on the way society is shaped today? If not, then you should definitely check out Michael Pollan’s book all about this addictive drug. And yes, it is a drug.

In a nutshell description

In this little book about Caffeine (only available on Audible currently) Michael Pollan looks into one of the most widely used psychoactive stimulants in today’s society. Michael gives the history of this seemingly innocent plant and how it made it’s way over to the western world and the surprisingly major impact it had on the shaping of western society and continues to have today. What’s more, the author shows that the Industrial Revolution would have been impossible without it.

Through the course of writing this book Michael actually gives up any form of caffeine for a period of 3 months because he was advised that this was the only way he would truly understand his relationship with the drug. He then vividly describes the day’s event when he is allowed once more to administer some caffeine once again - in the form of a flat white from one of his favorite coffee haunts - the euphoria he felt and then how this almost immediately impacted his behaviour and resulting day.

Why I love this book

I am a big fan of coffee and I am always surprised by the lack of wonder around this drug. I literally feel euphoric at times when I consume it and I am deeply intrigued by the effect consumption of caffeine has on my life.

To find out caffeine’s impact on Western society and how deep a role it seemed to have played in the current makeup of our society was really eye opening. I knew it was addictive but to see the extent to which it determines so much of people’s behaviour is truly fascinating.

Quote to make you think

“​​Caffeine constitutes the largest and longest unsupervised drug experiment ever conducted on humans"

Read this book if…

You consume caffeine in any form then I think you should understand the history and the facts behind it. I still believe caffeine can very much be part of a healthy lifestyle but I also think its power over us should not be underestimated. I also believe the more you understand something the more you can be aware of its potential impact over you.

Be careful though, you may think twice about your next cup of coffee or even go as far as to give us caffeine for good!

Some good further reading/watching/listening

This is a great little teaser from Michael on Youtube speaking to Joe Rogan about his first taste of coffee about a three month hiatus:

This is an official interview about the audiobook and the recording of it:

Where to get it

About the author

Michael Pollan is an American author and journalist. He has written many well known books such as ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’, ‘In Defense of Food’ and ‘How to Change Your Mind’ which is a book about the history and future of psychedelics. He has also contributed writings for the ‘New York Times’ magazine and has one numerous writing awards.

Publication Date:

January 30, 2020

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