I Drink [Coffee] Therefore I Am

I drink [coffee] therefore I am...While I’m clearly appropriating the Enlightenment thinker Descartes’ axiom “I think therefore I am” I am not, however, suggesting that because I/we/you/etc. drink coffee we’re one in the same thing.  Or are we?  More on that to come.  The idea/saying does, however, remind me of what my parents, grandparents, and relatives used to say when I was a child, “if you keep drinking coffee (or in my case eating Little Debbie Brownies...yum!!!), you’re going to turn into coffee.”  What a preposterous statement right?  How could there be any truth to the notion that eating or drinking something could turn us into that very item?

 

Well, I would argue that everything we eat and drink, while not inherently morphing us from our current state of being into the very subject of consumption, is indeed part of who we are as human beings.  This is not to say that if we continue to consume large quantities of coffee we will gradually turn into this liquid delight!  It does, however, foster a symbiotic relationship between the consumer and consumed.

Propositions that nature exists as an eternal reoccurrence have been espoused since the days of the Enlightenment.  Nietzsche comes to mind here, meaning that everything that currently exists is part of everything that existed in the past.  And, this cycle will continue in accordance with the laws of nature until the end of time.  At a more granular level, the idea here is that everything that exists is one with nature.

There are innumerable ways to interpret oneness with nature.  My contention here is to propose two ideas of oneness - micro and macro as it relates to coffee.  What do I mean?  First take the micro.  When we drink coffee, our bodies are nourished by said coffee, meaning that the essential nutrients of the bean are broken down and distributed throughout the body to give us energy and life.  All while coffee serves its purpose by providing us with critical [daily] ingredients.  The apex of symbiosis!  
 
At the macro level the relationship is more interwoven and complex.  It would seem that the consumer is the end product in a long system of growth, production, and consumption of coffee.  Or is he?  Let’s think about the idea of coffee consumption as it relates to production and human intake.  People all over the world engage in coffee production. Farmers till their fields, plant coffee beans, harvest beans at the end of the grow cycle, and ship their product to roasters all over the world in exchange for capital to earn a living wage and continue the cycle.  Roasters then receive the beans, roast the beans in accordance with their customers expectations, and sell their product to consumers, coffee houses, supermarkets, etc.  Like the farmers, roasters do so in exchange for capital to earn a living wage and continue the cycle.  At the final stage of the cycle, consumers drink coffee for nourishment and energy which allows them to go on to earn a living wage and continue the cycle.

While the macro process above excludes the countless middlemen in the cycle that benefit from the various relationships between coffee production and consumption, it does paint a picture, though simplistic, of a continuous cycle of mutual dependence.  Thus, when compared to the micro level where human beings individually derive benefits from coffee, the macro level propose an interwoven economic system of mutual dependence through supply chains, capital, and consumption.

So it would seem that as long as the cycle continues in its current state, it could be argued that our parents, grandparents, and relatives were partially right when they told us as children “if you keep eating and drinking those items, you’re going to turn into them.”  I would argue that we’re not necessarily going to turn into these items; instead they are already part of us and we are part of them by way of production and consumption.  Thus, it’s true that we’re not going to magically transform into drip coffee the more we drink it, but there is some truth in the idea that since we drink coffee it’s part of who we are within a larger system of reoccurrence. 

 

Full circle here - pun intended!  While Descartes’ axiom argues that our existence and consciousness can be realized by the very act of thinking, the same could be said of the axiom “I drink [coffee] therefore I am.”  The latter axiom is indeed a play on words, but given the multitude of symbiotic relationships echoed within the very laws of nature, the notion that coffee is part of humanity's natural condition through the acts of production and consumption seems a logical proposition.

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