Saturday, September 29, 2012

Coffee and the Tea Party

Today, Saturday, September 29th is National Coffee Day. In addition to being a big consumer of coffee, I took a special interest in researching it several years ago as I was working on my master's thesis where I analyzed a few years' worth of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to see if there was any association between caffeine consumption and depression. My study, thankfully, showed that there was no association between the two, although there were some limitations with the data.

One particular interesting note about the history of coffee that I came across during my research is how it became so popular in America. The Huffington Post (yes, the Huffington Post!)  has a good quick summary up today (emphasis mine):
Through trade with the Europeans, coffee became a popular import by the mid-17th century in Europe. Upon its arrival in America, it didn't experience much success until the Boston Tea Party, when colonists who were rebelling against tea taxes developed a fondness for coffee. Drinking nearly 400 million cups of coffee per day, Americans now consume the most coffee in the world.
230+ years ago, the colonists developed a penchant for coffee as a statement against the high, unrepresentative taxes on tea. It was a political statement, and today, it is the free market in action with a whole industry related to coffee-- local coffee shops and diners, big chains like Starbucks, tumblers to transport coffee, Keurigs, etc. It is an ever expanding market. There is though that unbreakable link to the Tea Party of 1773. Now, instead of drinking coffee as a statement of rebellion against high taxes, it's the fuel for mornings of block walking and making phone calls for candidates, afternoons of calling Congressmen and Senators to keep them accountable, and late night of blogging and planning rallies and events.

So, today, raise your mug to King George, whose taxes contributed to America's coffee addiction.


  1. Interesting Whitney, "a statement of rebellion" I never would have guessed it.

  2. Thanks for the lesson! I have to share it!