Caffeine stirs up need for drink fixation
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 15:10
Behind tea and alcohol, coffee is one of the most consumed and popular drinks worldwide and since I began working in a cafe, I’ve noticed how dependent people are on the beverage.
Morning commuters on their way to their destination stop by for a quick picker upper to help them through the day. For most, the routine is temporary and easy to shrug off although every once in awhile it seems necessary as a go-to option when facing a long day.
For a lot of folks who come in, however, the coffee drinks produce habit-forming routines.
The need for caffeine turns everyday people into coffee addicts. And while it is certain that addictions can occur in just about anyone, none are more substantial than addictions to chemical stimulants.
Caffeine is naturally occurring in many substances and is used as an additive in others consumed on a daily basis. Energy drinks, soft drinks, teas and chocolate all contain caffeine, but coffee is usually sought after when looking for a dose of something to keep people awake and alert.
Because of this, the popularity of coffee is obvious. In the Bay Area alone, according to an article published by CNBC, there are 1,379 coffee shops. So one can understand the popularity of Peet’s Coffee and Tea shops and others like Tully’s.
In Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks coffee, there are 1,640 coffee shops. These cafes join the long line of other establishments meant to serve us quickly and efficiently. And it shows. Americans spend an average of nearly $1,100 a year on coffee, based on a recent study surveying consumer spending on caffeine by Consumerist magazine.
The spending is evident in my workplace where the same number of realtors, contractors and grocery store employees shell out money every single day on adrenaline boosters.
All of this is due to simple brain chemistry.
Adenosine is an inhibitory transmitter, which means it balances one’s mood and relays information throughout the body that is created in the brain and binds to receptors in it. This causes drowsiness.
What caffeine does is bind to the same receptors adenosine does and speeds up nerve cells. The increased neuron activity from this makes the pituitary gland in the brain release hormones that cause the adrenal glands to create adrenaline.
People crave the adrenaline caffeinated coffee gives them. It feels good to drink coffee. Why it feels good is because of dopamines that trigger pleasure centers in the brain.
Dopamines are neurotransmitters that provide pleasure, and when people drink something containing caffeine it increases them.
But when a person spends money every day on adrenaline and ends up dependent on increasing dopamines, he or she is as much as an addict as someone who is looking for that next hit.