Caffeinated Sapiens

By Ojas Joshi

Concentrated caffeine first proliferated society around 1000 B.C. in China, in the form of tea. Initially used for medicinal & religious purposes, tea eventually became a common, everyday drink in Ancient China.  From then on, caffeine slowly took root around the world. Tea’s caffeinated companion, coffee, blossomed in popularity by the late 1200s in the Middle East. Here, monks and religious figures would brew cups of coffee for extended meditation sessions. Eventually, colonization brought coffee and tea to Europe, awakening Europe from a great, middle-aged slumber.

Caffeine first became popular in Europe among the circles of the elite. Wealthy men, and only men, would gather at “coffee bars” to discuss philosophical ideas and emerging political systems. From these coffee bars, history saw the emergence of the Enlightenment era. Due to caffeine’s mind-sharpening abilities, philosophes were able to formulate ideas and shed light on a new way of thinking. Voltaire specifically was notorious for an insatiable coffee appetite, consuming “upwards of 40 cups a day.” (

Moreover, the increasing accessibility of coffee in Europe gave means to a new revolution: the Industrial Revolution. Boiling water for coffee accomplished two tasks for the average laborer: it made drinking water safe, a rarity in those days, and increased the fervor with which they completed their jobs. Soon, industrial output and production exploded, leading to the Industrial Revolution.

Caffeine took control of the modern world during the Enlightenment era. Caffeine increases mental productivity and physical energy. Caffeine drives innovation, production, and thought. Caffeine has steadily taken control of society through its  unique characteristics and addictive properties. Caffeine enables modern society to function and grow.

“Caffeine is considered a stimulant. It stimulates the body’s central nervous system, and boosts the brain’s production of a neurochemical known as dopamine, which controls the ability to focus and maintain concentration,” writes Society relies on caffeine’s ability to boost mental focus to grow and innovate. Millions of people around the world gather at coffee houses and cafes to study, collaborate, and generate ideas because of the intrinsic brain-boosting benefits of caffeine. 

“Caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which plays a role in suppressing hunger, enhancing satiety, and increasing the breakdown of fat cells to be used for energy,” notes People use caffeine every day to avoid the natural afternoon energy lapses that occur in humans circadian rhythms. Down on energy from unnatural work hours, caffeine enables society to function and produce at an inorganic rate. 

Caffeine’s societal superpowers have entrenched mankind in a hapless addiction.  “For most of us, to be caffeinated to one degree or another has simply become baseline human consciousness,” observes renowned author Michael Pollan. This addiction has most notably wreaked havoc on sleep cycles, further entrapping society in a toxic relationship with caffeine. To recover from poor caffeine induced sleep, one must…drink more caffeine. 

And so the cycle continues. In order for society to function properly and in the way that it is now conceived, humans need caffeine. Disastrous sleep side effects aside, caffeine increases mental focus, and physical energy, firmly steering society into the future with an invisible fist.