Opinion: Coffee is a must

Original text: Ruut Parikka

Graphics: Inka Auranen

Translation: Kiia Saarenpää

Artikkeli on luettavissa myös suomeksi.

I often forget the fact that coffee is a stimulant. Rather, it is a trigger: for opening a conversation, for beginning your workday, the cause for a break, or basis for a transition from place to another. Coffee is a must.

When I was ten, I promised my best friend that I would drink a cup of coffee if they agreed to play a board game with me. This game was Monopoly, self-made on a plywood sheet, drawn by my friend’s brothers. My friend’s unemployed parents couldn’t afford a game that cost several dozens of euros. It was the year 2002 and Nokia was going strong. The use of euros had begun, and people had different currency converters in their key chains. Although my friend had very little money, there was always enough coffee in my friend’s home. Coffee was still available for purchase even to those less fortunate.

The coffee was bitter, and the milk mixed in it diluted and softened the drink, which made it taste sickly-sweet. Not even a sugar cube could make the coffee taste any better, and in the end, my efforts resulted in me gagging.

My coffee-drinking attempts were their own performative show. I made faces, cursed, and gagged. I needed to empty that cup, so that the final battle of who was the master of Monopoly would come true. Sometimes I made it, sometimes I failed. I swore that I would never drink coffee. And yet, things have changed.

Nowadays, coffee has become like a lifeline to me. My morning schedule will be wrecked, if I am out of coffee beans at home, there is no time to grind them or there is no time to brew coffee.

Coffee beans or coffee grounds. Doesn’t matter. I have to get my high either way.

When you are dragging yourself to the university, still half asleep and not sure what is on today’s agenda, making yourself a cup of coffee or grabbing a drink to go from a campus café may be the first step to brightening your thoughts for the day ahead. Add in some caffeine and suddenly, Jekyll becomes Dr. Hyde in no time. For a fresher, coffee may be one of the first reasons to slip among new people in the guild rooms or subject association spaces. Bringing your own coffee cup into the cabinet can be a sign of finding your place in the new community.

Although my friend had very little money, there was always enough coffee in my friend’s home. Coffee was still available for purchase even to those less fortunate.

COFFEE can be a start to something new. The first step to writing the first few pages to a late essay or an easy incentive to get to know someone better. In Finland, we rarely talk about going on a date, specifically. We usually ask people for a cup of coffee (and this request is usually specified with a statement that you don’t have to drink coffee necessary, that tea and cocoa will do fine as well).

Coffee and its overconsumption have their drawbacks though. According to the Consumer’s Union of Finland, 14 % of Finnish food waste comes from brewed coffee. The majority of the climate impact of coffee also comes from the cultivation of coffee beans. However, cultivation of coffee is one of the most important export products for coffee-growing countries in the equatorial region. Global warming can damage coffee in many ways by e.g., reducing crop area, increasing pests, and reducing quality. As the temperature rises, the growing conditions of the coffee plant will not be optimal for everyone. In the future, the price of coffee will rise, and its taste will become weaker.

I will not go into the Finnish coffee drinking statistics here any further, but I would like to remind you all of one more fact: In Finland, the Occupational Safety and Health Act provides for a legal coffee break for all employees. The coffee break is included in the work time, so you will receive payment from that time. You also have the right to a coffee break if your workdays are under six work hours long.

Read more: How strong is the coffee at your campus? Visiiri took coffee samples to a laboratory for testing