A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. -- (attributed to) Paul ErdosCoffee is indeed an omnipresent drink in many different science fields - probably for its property of aiding concentration and focus over a short period of time. In the field of software development, just think about the Java platform and programming language, named after a coffee, whose symbol is a cup and certain constructs are called beans. Many programmers declare themselves coffee addicts, and present guides to coffee roasting and brewing.
As you probably now, high consumption of caffeine, which is the principal psychoactive component of coffee, is not very healthy. The reason is the substances in a cup of coffee are derived from coffee beans, and the Coffea plants have been naturally selected to produce hazardous chemicals. Plants generally do not want their seeds to be eaten: while the man-made cultivation, which favors the more productive varieties, dates back to some centuries ago, the natural selection of the Coffea plants has been a continuos process for thousands and thousands of years. That's why roses have spines and poison ivy is... well, a bit poisonous.
The overall effects of a moderate consumption of caffeine, as they have been exposed by scientific studies, are controversial. And the picture cannot be different: there are many types of coffee, also with different serving sizes, and possibly different effects (and side effects). Particular beverages such as tea and Coca Cola contain caffeine, but in a much lower concentration.
My current practice is avoiding influential substances as much as possible. I drink occasionally a cup of tea in the morning, mainly because of the cold season. I did multiple rounds of coffee in the past, but the benefits on concentration (and in recovering from hangovers) were not very significant on me, and I also had to add the side effects on my stomach and my sleep cycle, which is an important variable in my life.
Nearly every morning I see many students come in with hot, tiny espressos made by automatic machines. I guess it's more a placebo than a real help. In fact, they are usually not the most brilliant ones in the classroom, but the ones that sleep less.
Do you drink coffee? What is your idea of its benefits and disadvantages?
Image courtesy of Julius Schorzman.