Coffee and Winter: Why the two work so well together

When you think about it it doesn’t really make sense that people prefer to drink coffee on cold days. Coffee is not really a drink that is consumed in order to keep the body warm. Ordinarily coffee is drunk quickly, often on the go and without much fuss – much like most other activities that are performed daily. So what is it about the wintery months that draw people to cafes and coffee?

Being someone who is firstly not a morning person and secondly someone who feels the cold before the heat, I can understand that the attraction to coffee first thing in the morning is related somewhat to the fact it is brewed with boiling water. However it is a well known fact amongst those who take their coffee drinking seriously that coffee is simply not supposed to be drunk at boiling temperature. More and more I have noticed cafes around town taking the extra effort to place an extra page at the front of their menus or stuck to their coffee machines even, explaining the fact that coffee is not supposed to be boiling hot and so if that is what they prefer they are welcome to take their business elsewhere…While this may sound rude at first I appreciate the honesty and the passion with which these cafes operate.

This added slip of paper does not bring me any closer, however, to the pending question of the relationship between coffee and winter. Images of winter are at best grey, whilst those of coffee are often colourful and somewhat romantic. Perhaps the two work well together in that respect, balancing each other out. Yet it doesn’t really make any sense, especially given that coffee should not be boiling hot, that people are more inclined to drink it during winter.

Unless we turn our focus away from the warmth it does or does not emit and look towards the essence of why people drink coffee in the first place. Most people will tell you that unlike cigarettes or other medications they are not actually addicted to coffee. Science will tell you that that is simply not true. Of course they are, to a certain degree, addicted to coffee. This is because coffee contains load and loads of caffeine. And with this acknowledgement we are able to creep a little further towards understanding why people prefer coffee during the winter months.

If you are anything like myself there are simply no amounts of coffee that will miraculously turn me into a morning person. In summer there is nothing I love more than gazing out of my window first thing in the morning, eyes glazed and sleepy, thoughts puzzling together as I sip my first cup of coffee. You will not find me jogging at 6am, nor will you finding me cooking. It is not unusual to find me being extremely active at housework at midnight. I am what is called a night owl and unless you are one yourself we are creatures widely misunderstood. So you can imagine how long it takes for my puzzle pieces to fit together when cold air and grey cloudy skies are added to the equation. During winter I need an extra boost in the morning. And that’s where the extra caffeine hits might just fit in perfectly.

In winter, when people feel the cold more often they also feel like rugging up and staying indoors more often as well. With less fresh air and less blood circulation, the feeling of tiredness quickly sets in as well. Note to self: I need something that will keep me awake and that is warm to touch given how cold I feel. Enter: coffee. There we go. In trying to figure out why something that doesn’t make sense happens so clearly and regularly, we have unwound our own knot and found the answer. People love coffee in winter because they need extra help to stay awake and alert due to the reduced amount of fresh air they receive during the colder months when heaters are cranked up and windows are kept shut.

Next time you wonder why the cafes are so full during winter you will understand that the answer lies beyond the science as well as the romance.

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