by Donald Melanson
Addictions are not usually seen as a good
thing. They are something that should be treated, or concealed from others. At
the very least, they are frowned upon. One addiction, however, has been
embraced by society as a good thing, perhaps even a preferable behavior. It is,
of course, coffee.
Coffee as a focal point of daily life is
nothing new, Arabs first discovered coffee's appeal and blended it with
commerce. The cultivation and processing of coffee was kept a closely-guarded
secret. Compare this with the technology that would become the internet being
kept under wraps for years.
Just like the World Wide Web, coffee also had
it's world-conquering qualities. It was an instant hit by the time it reached
Italy in 1645. The British were soon to follow in 1650, and in France by 1660.
During that time, coffee must have been the perfect example of viral
In 2000, Netlife and coffee are exploding in
popularity. The most visible evidence of this is the rapid growth of coffee
shop chains. Starbucks and
Second Cup's have found their way into
bookstores, university campuses, and seemingly anywhere else with enough room
for an espresso machine. But I'm not complaining.
I'm one of the millions of
people who won't do anything until they have a cup, or two, in the morning.
Then varying amounts in the afternoon. Depending on what day you turn on the
news, this practice may or may not be good for you. I'm gambling it's the
former. If you might be interested in coffee's health effects, look no further
than the Coffee Science
Source, the "Online Source for Coffee, Caffeine and Health
Nowhere else has coffee permeated more into a
culture than with Internet and new media companies. It is ubiquitous. Important
meetings often take place in cafes rather than conference rooms. Who knows how
far Yahoo! or Netscape would have gotten without a constant stream of java
There are many noticeable parallels between
these two cultures. The highest concentration of coffee shops tends to be in
cities like Seattle and New York, and in Silicon Valley. These areas are also
home to a very high ratio of Internet and other technology companies. The USA
is the world's largest consumer of coffee, importing 16 to 20 million bags
annually (2.5 million pounds), representing 1/3 of all coffee exported. More
than half of the United States population consumes coffee typically drinking
3.4 cups of coffee a day. The explosion of coffee and digital technology also
occurred at roughly the same time, the mid-nineteen-eighties, and have
continued through to the present day. Which brings forth the obvious chicken
and egg question.
I won't attempt to answer that question, but
there are some interesting statistics that show a clear connection. According
to Starbucks, approximately 90 percent of their customers are Internet users.
Considering that less than 50 percent of people in North America are Internet
users, that is a very significant percentage, and far larger than in any other
And don't forget jobs. The Internet has
created a lot of work, and the coffee industry's not hurting either. According
to the speciality coffee association of America, the premium bean category of
the industry has grown into a $1.5 billion annual industry. Over 25 million
people are employed in the coffee industry.
You might even be enjoying a cup of Joe while
you read this article. I've certainly had a few during it's writing. We're not
quite sure where everything is going, but it's certainly going to be an
interesting journey. In light of the recent partnership between Starbucks and
Kozmo.com, maybe if Bill Gates is looking to
stay on top of things his next take-over target should be our good man
b i o :
Donald Melanson is the Editor-in-Chief of
Mindjack Magazine and a full-time coffee drinker. His latest venture is
tripledub.net, a new media design shop.
He welcomes your comments on this article.