To Bean, or Not To Bean

misstrongCOFFEE...a controversial topic discussed in kitchens among friends, and global health magazines among praised fitness gurus. Is it bad to indulge in a cup of caffeinated love every morning? Wait…”a cup?” Just kidding…usually, one morning cup turns into a must-have-much-needed four mugs by the afternoon. With the amount that we need to get done everyday, we also have an overwhelming need to get our to-do list done with a little help from the well known coffee bean. That daily frothy blended coffee frap from Starbucks provides us with a sense of security, completion and enjoyment upon waking. That afternoon shot of espresso encourages us to make it through the day…to keep calm, and carry on. While drinking coffee may prove to be absolutely wonderful, many wonder if it’s actually also absolutely harmful? Miss Strong would like to present you with a guest post on coffee this week, written by Photographer, Writer and global traveler Anya McGinnis. To Bean, or Not To Bean challenges you to ask yourself not whether or not coffee is “bad” but if it works for you. Through both description and exploration, this article serves as rich food for thought…or rather, coffee for thought. To Bean, or Not To Bean?

misstrong“O.K., raise your hand if you imbibed in a coffee concoction today. Did you sip your cup of joe with the paper? Swallow a jolt between stop and go rush hour? Stand impatiently in line for an overpriced, designer mélange? Grab a mid-day-pick-me-up-brain-is-stumbling-few-hours-‘til-clock-out mug of caffeine? Linger over a leisurely fix with a side of conversation? Guess what? You’re not alone; huge swaths of the globe spin on caffeine. It’s a universal addiction, one that’s celebrated and promoted. But, is it good for you?

As with just about any ingested substance, in time, it will become the focal point of endless medical studies, opinions, articles, news segments…it’s EXHAUSTING… enough to warrant reaching for another caffeinated zinger to brace oneself against factual and fictional bombardment. What to do? It’s simple really. Use your common sense. Modernity’s plethora of medical information afforded us is terrific…to a point. History has taught me, surf multiple, reliable sources, digest the material, mull it over, realize that in approximately 5 years expert opinions will change, consider your personal physical/psychological/medical needs, and make a decision…sans stress, guilt, or verbal flagellation. Articles abound regarding caffeine and its link to cardiac issues, brain function, pregnancy risks, et cetera. Great. Good to know. Got it. Now, ask yourself: “What are the implications for me?” YOU know YOUR BODY better than anyone. (If not…uh, get to know yourself pronto!) As a stimulant, there are obvious advantages and disadvantages. What are benefits and risks for you? It doesn’t take a multi-million dollar study to ascertain that 20 cups a day probably isn’t a good idea, while reasonable coffee use can produce various positive experiences. Perhaps subscribe to ancient wisdom, applicable to most things: “Nothing in Excess.”

miss strongUse of coffee beans (actually, coffee seed/pit) has been embraced by cultures for centuries, for religious purposes and battle alike. Indeed, for me, it’s provided Namaste moments as well as Spartan strength, capable of variation depending on the particular time and need. It waxes and wanes with personal evolution. And that’s the key. Caffeine is rarely black and white (figuratively speaking, not referencing café au lait). Regard it as such: neither evil, nor a panacea. Whether or not it’s good for you depends in part on ripple benefits following use: perhaps a more intense workout, civility with ornery folk, meeting a deadline, enjoyable café connections. For many, coffee is a morphing companion.

I befriended caffeine as a grad student, deep within library stacks, a musty comingling of ear marked knowledge with professors’ tar coffee breath, bitter stench and erudite tidbits slapping me out of sleep deprivation. Then came life abroad. Austrian coffee houses wafting Mozart, encrusted cherubs swirling overhead, while mirrored reflections of mid-day conversationalists sipped from porcelain cups belonging to saucers balancing silver spoons and decadent chocolates (quite a departure from home country’s two pot offerings: brown lid caffeinated, orange lid decaf). Caffeine resurfaced as trustworthy morning brew during years of tortuous broken sleep from babies dropping binkies mid night, toddlers’ fitful dreams, children usurping the irresistible parental bed. Soon I was a Starbuck’s regular, rotely rattling off a drink so impressive in length that it was used to train baristas. But over the years, staffs failed to cheerfully or correctly produce the made-to-order drink. (Dare I suggest a shot of espresso to counteract languor?) Subsequently, on a festive occasion, my perceptive husband gifted a behemoth Italian espresso machine. The beauty is in control, total control, of organic beans, milk, and dash of cocoa (because two controversial stimulants are better than one).

misstrongSo, is the coffee bean seed for you? Data is omnipresent. Educate yourself, and then decide to bean, or not to bean….without angst, lest benefits become defeated by self-induced stress. Weigh your history and current relationship with coffee. Friend or Foe? After reasonable assessment, I’ve decided, for now, to ingest some ground energy, frothed with sanity and a sprinkle of harmony.”

Anya McGinnis, Photographer & Writer



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