October 31, 2018

Better coffee, better day

First Published - March 26, 2015 (By Jon P)

A first impression can be a force to be reckoned with – remaining even in the face of contradictory facts or evidence. If your impression of the day begins with a horrendous alarm, an empty stomach, and an awful coffee – your day is likely to be a horrendous, empty, awful day. Even if your day’s filled with rainbows and glitter, you’ll see it through tinted glasses of doom and gloom.

Can a good start, a good coffee, make a good day?

Researchers at Cornell University, New York, found that “initial judgements” based on exposure to a photograph were hard to shift and coloured all future face to face interactions. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology concluded, after observing several studies, that “first impressions continue to assert themselves long after you know relevant information.” It’s interesting that such fleeting moments can alter an entire experience of a person – and our first impressions of the day are no different.

This fact, however, can be used to our advantage. Mark Twain thought that “eating a live frog first thing in the morning” means that nothing worse can happen to you throughout the day – but if that’s not quite to your palate, don’t worry. We can suggest a more positive alternative.

Brewing coffee in the morning is about so much more than the resulting cup – it’s a ritual, a routine that can provide a rewarding experience that remains throughout the day. Dopamine – a highly addictive hormone, known to be associated with reward and pleasure – is released by the brain in accordance with the completion of tasks. Further study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, has shown that repeated routines lead to dopamine “responses [that] are transferred to the task” – meaning a regular ritual can become an all-encompassing and rewarding experience.

And it gets better! A study published in the journal Current Biology found that increased levels of dopamine leads to reduced “negative expectations regarding the future”. It might not physically change how your day will play out – but will provide you with an optimistic outlook.

In Ethiopia, largely acknowledged as the birthplace of coffee, it’s an honour to be invited to the much revered coffee ceremony. The careful and purposeful laying out of equipment, followed by the attentive preparation and roasting, the repeated straining, and finally the serving – is all said to produce a result that transforms the spirit and bestows a blessing. Whilst a grand ceremony might be a bit beyond most of us, bleary-eyed in the early hours – there is something to be said for creating your own “transformational” coffee.

Jeremy, our co-founder at Union Hand Roasted, sees coffee rather “like photographic negatives – some pictures you see are very tonal, bold and emotive and there are other images that are very soft, subtle and gentle.” Any photographer will tell you of the excitement and anticipation in the process of developing film – waiting to see the end results.

Hand brewing coffee in the morning – from opening a bag of exotic produce brought in from far off countries, breathing in the smell of artisan roasted beans, to the sound of grinding that sends anticipatory tingles down the spine – creates a moment of thrill, adventure, and achievement. It’s the beginning of a routine that will enrich your morning and, by extent, your entire day.

If you’re interested, brewing equipment, guides, and exceptional coffees can all be found on our website: http://www.unionroasted.com





Know Your Brain: Reward System (Neuroscientifically Challenged)

Dopamine Transmission in the Human Striatum during Monetary Reward Tasks (The Journal of Neuroscience)

How Dopamine Enhances an Optimism Bias in Humans (Current Biology, )

Even Fact Will Not Change Impressions (Society for Personality and Social Psychology)

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony (Epicurean.com)

Interview with Jeremy Torz (The London Coffee Festival)

Image courtesy of Pascale Schuit

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