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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

August 9, 2008

can coffee cure cranky counselors?

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:53 pm

A few days ago, we told you about cranky sleep–deprived lawyers. Because getting more sleep seems unrealistic for most of us, our search for solutions has focused on finding efficient, enjoyable, and easy ways to ingest copious amounts of caffeine. Naturally, a good cup of strong coffee comes to mind as the handiest method for overcoming the effects of too little sleep.

morning glories …
the bite & burn
of a double espresso

.. by ed markowski – Haiku Harvest (Fall/Winter 2005)

If you’re at all like the f/k/a Gang, coffee became an important part of your life right about the time you started your first real office job (for us, it was as a newbie lawyer) and discovered the joys of the bottomless free cup-a-joe in the snack room.

Monday again–
folks in the latte line
praise this morning’s moon

.. by Billie Wilson – Mariposa 11 (2004)

Of course, many Americans (such as Ms. Scheherazade at Stay of Execution) cringe at the suggestion of coffee as a cure for any ailment. They’ve been brain-washed into believing that there’s something unhealthy about drinking coffee, because all sorts of nannies in the health care sector have been trying over the past few decades to scare us away from coffee and caffeine with dire warnings of short- and long-term health risks.

Nonetheless, despite incessant nagging from close relatives and significant others (mostly of the female variety), most coffee drinkers have refused to give up imbibing their beloved, aromatic drink of choice.

Indeed, as we reported in “Your Coffee or Your Life?” (April 29, 2004), a survey several years ago found that coffee (not sex or chocolate) was mentioned by Senior Citizens most often as the item they would never give up just to stay youthful. Maybe age does bring wisdom.

the taste
of coffee –
the aftertaste

.. by dagosan [07-10-04]

It turns out that our stalwart fidelity to chronic coffee drinking (the real stuff, not that decaf impostor), has been vindicated. Over the past few years, there’s been a steady flow of research results to lighten the load and brighten the spirits of coffee lovers. See, e.g., our post “fill ‘er up” (Nov. 19, 2005), discussing the Harvard Gazette article “Coffee gets cleared of blood pressure risk; ” and the recent story in the Mainichi Daily News, “Caffeine enhances memory-forming brain cells, researchers find” (Aug. 6, 2008).

If your loved ones, or office mates, need more than your word (or even mine) that coffee is safe — and maybe even advantageous — for your health, the New York Times came to your assistance this week big-time, with the article “Sorting Out Coffee’s Contradictions” (by Jane E. Brody, Aug. 5, 2008). The Times notes that coffee is “America’s leading beverage and caffeine its most widely used drug,” and sees us as a “society determined to run hard on as little sleep as possible.” The article then sets up its central issue:

“But as with any product used to excess, consumers often wonder about the health consequences. And researchers readily oblige. Hardly a month goes by without a report that hails coffee, tea or caffeine as healthful or damns them as potential killers.

“Can all these often contradictory reports be right?”

Caffeine Myths Debunked: To counter “misguided information about caffeine and its most common source, coffee,” the NYT article presents the recent, comprehensive findings of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and those of other research reports follow. See “Caffeine: The Good, the Bad and the Maybe,” Nutrition Action Health Letter, March 2008, Center for Science in the Public Interest (PDF, 2350 Kb). Thus, on a page captioned, What You May Not Need to Worry About, the NAH Letter debunks myths related to coffee and caffeine and Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Osteoporosis, Dehydration, PMS, Weight Loss, and Growth.

coffeeCupSN “Coffee accounts for close to 75% of the caffeine we consumer.”

The NAH Letter’s Caffeine article, as summarized in the New York Times, explains a number of things Caffeine May Be Good For — including Parkinson’s Disease, Gallstones, and Headaches. More important, for our sleep-deprived lawyers and colleagues (who are prone to be cranky and less productive), it describes caffeine’s beneficial effects on Mental Performance, Physical Performance and Mood. For example:

  • Mental Performance: Caffeine improves alertness and reaction time in people, whether they are habitual consumers of caffeine or not.

in a paper cup–
a long way from home

.. by Gary Hotham – breathmarks: haiku to read in the dark

In the sleep-deprived, “It improves almost everything you can measure,” says [Harris Lieberman, a U.S. Army Research psychologist]. “It makes you more alert, it seems like you can perform complex tasks better, and your memory is better.”

  • [Note bene] Mood: “It’s no coincidence that people offer guests a cup of coffee.

“After consuming anywhere from 20 mg. to 200 mg. of caffeine, ‘people report increased well-being, happiness, energy, alertness, and sociability,” says caffeine expert Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

  • Physical Performance: Caffeine helps the body burn fat instead of carbohydrate, and it blunts the perception of pain. Both can boost endurance.

But Note: Caffeine reverses some of the psychological effects of alcohol, but not the physical ones — possibly making inebriated persons even more dangerous to themselves and others, because they think they’re okay.

After years of my primary care doctor telling me that coffee did not count toward my daily water-intake goal, because it is a diuretic, I was pleased to see in the NYT that:

“Hydration. It was long thought that caffeinated beverages were diuretics, but studies reviewed last year found that people who consumed drinks with up to 550 milligrams of caffeine produced no more urine than when drinking fluids free of caffeine. Above 575 milligrams, the drug was a diuretic.

“So even a Starbucks grande, with 330 milligrams of caffeine, will not send you to a bathroom any sooner than if you drank 16 ounces of pure water. Drinks containing usual doses of caffeine are hydrating and, like water, contribute to the body’s daily water needs.”

In addition, those of us with heart-related health anxieties over drinking coffee, can relax according to the Times:

“Contrary to common belief,” concluded cardiologists at the University of California, San Francisco, there is “little evidence that coffee and/or caffeine in typical dosages increases the risk” of heart attack, sudden death or abnormal heart rhythms.

Let me (well, let Ms. Brody of the NYT) summarize for those who have a cranky lawyer or other sleep–deprived curmudgeon in your household or office:

Health Benefits: Probably the most important effects of caffeine are its ability to enhance mood and mental and physical performance. . . . Millions of sleep-deprived Americans depend on caffeine to help them make it through their day and drive safely. The drug improves alertness and reaction time. In the sleep-deprived, it improves memory and the ability to perform complex tasks.

So, don’t lose any sleep over drinking too much coffee during the day (yes, it will keep you up if ingested close to your bedtime). Better living through chemistry was never so tasty or economical than when reaching for a good cup of coffee.

Disclaimer: No amount of coffee or caffeine can help the congenitally grumpy (and you know who you are).

By the Way: Our favorite way to brew up a cup of coffee is using a (manual, non-electric) one-serving Melitta-style drip cone. If you don’t have one, check out Ready Set Joe. As they say at the One Cup Coffee Lovers Weblog, “Good results always seemingly follow if you’re patient, pour your hot water slowly, and then kick back and relax with the coffee.” So, listen up, all you young wastrels still buying $3 lattes, instead of making a much cheaper cup yourself at home or at your desk. And See “Javanomics 101: Today’s Coffee is Tomorrow’s Debt” (WashPost, June 18, 2005), and our blurb discussing the article.

coffee shop . . .
the only empty seat
still warm

… by Randy Brooks – from School’s Out (Press Here, 1999)

Day’s end–
sink faucet dripping
on the coffee dregs

… by Rebecca Lilly, from A New Resonance 2 (2001); orig. pub. Modern Haiku

last night’s bitterness
he adds twice the sugar
to his coffee

fierce wind
street sweeper has
another coffee

… by George Swede – from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)

Sunday morning
ants on the rim of my
coffee cup

… by Carolyn Hall – The Heron’s Nest (II:1, Jan. 2000)

farewell dinner–
more hot coffee poured
into what’s left

… by Gary Hotham – Missed Appointment (Lilliput Review, Modest Proposal Chapbooks)

coffee berries
the conversation turns
to another ill friend

.. by Paul m. – called home (Red Moon Press 2006)

talking divorce
he pours his coffee
then mine

…….. by Roberta Beary – The Unworn Necklace (2007)

coffee brewing —
the moon and Orion
light the way

… by Billie Wilson from Haiku Harvest (Spring 2001)

a man in cowboy boots
asks for latte

.. by Yu Chang – Upstate Dim Sum (2004/II)

instant coffee
a stirring of leaves
in the courtyard

.. by Andrew Riutta

mom’s genes:
coffee-talk about

empty coffee pot
gotta go
gotta go

used book –
someone else’s
coffee stain

July heatwave –
the hardhats grieve
over lukewarm coffee

……………………. by dagosan


  1. Thanks for gathering these. One from yesterday:

    vacation’s end
    going back
    for one more cup

    Comment by Bill Kenney — August 10, 2008 @ 10:19 am

  2. Hello, Bill. Thanks for sharing a virtual cup with us and leaving behind a healthy tip.

    Comment by David Giacalone — August 10, 2008 @ 10:23 am

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