I’m convinced coffee lovers don’t just drink coffee; they inhale the stuff to keep the caffeine coursing through their veins. When I was in college, a friend of mine would snag a cup in between almost every class, and I was always wowed by her stomach’s ability to handle all that acidity. But drinking coffee isn’t just a means to an end. For some people, it’s a lifestyle, a vital part of their overall persona, and if that’s the case, what does skipping coffee say about your personality? Personally, I’ve always been more of a tea drinker myself (a direct reflection of my Irish upbringing, no doubt), and to this day, I’ll almost always choose an herbal brew over a cup of coffee. I get my fix when I need it, but I’m never jittery if I go without, so does being a non-coffee drinker really make me that different from those who can down a Dunkaccino after just having sipped a Starbucks venti? My curious mind needs to know.
Personally, I had to train myself to enjoy the taste of black coffee. It used to be that, if I even drank the stuff at all, I’d keep adding creamer until the brew became a milky brown color, and then I'd spoon in two clumps of sugar to combat the bitterness. It was my husband who actually suggested nixing the additives, because the combination of caffeine and dairy turned out to be a total disaster for my stomach. But even though I don’t mind drinking coffee plain nowadays, I still don’t understand the dire need to chug a cup the second my energy levels plummet.
According to Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD., a neuropsychologist and teaching faculty member at Columbia University, an appreciation for coffee could stem from your upbringing if your parents or older siblings fancied a cup first thing in the morning. Maybe you watched your parents refilling their mug at the kitchen table, or smelled the brewing pot from your bedroom, or it could be that drinking coffee was a cultural tradition in your family or a crutch to lean on in college when you’d pull an all-nighter, Hafeez tells Elite Daily over email. “A lot of it is learned and then habitual,” she says.
So do coffee drinkers condition themselves to need coffee, or do they just really like how their order tastes? Hafeez says it could be one or the other, or a combination of both. If someone starts drinking coffee on a daily basis, she explains, their brain essentially gets rewired to think that they need the caffeine, and therefore, they start depending on it. “This is why we see people who need that morning coffee, needing another in the afternoon,” Hafeez says. “Coffee provides them with the stimulation that jolts them from fatigue into action and alertness,” she explains, and if they go without, she adds, they could have trouble concentrating and staying on-task.
According to Hafeez, you might be skipping the coffee line at Starbucks every morning, but maybe that’s because you prefer using something like green juice, tea, or chocolate milk as an energy source, instead. Or, maybe you really do just feel more energetic without it. It can really go either way. "Mindset and our ability to regenerate pathways in our brains has a lot to do with our physical health," Hafeez points out, meaning there's a very real mind-body connection when it comes to your energy levels. Someone who tells themselves that they need caffeine to function convinces their body that it's true. But, if you've conditioned yourself to no longer need coffee and choose to get their energy elsewhere, it could be that you have a strong willpower, and were able to shift your beliefs and behaviors and adopt a new belief and pattern.
And while coffee drinkers might be a special breed of human, if you don’t drink coffee, and maybe even *gasp* prefer tea, you’re a special gem in your own right, too. In fact, Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, tells Elite Daily that tea drinkers “often display a calmer or zen approach to life.” And, look, I may be a tea person, but I’m definitely not the best example of this — coffee or not, I’m naturally strung out AF. Still, I can definitely see where this logic comes from. Coffee gets you wired, but sipping a warm mug of tea can simmer down a stressful mind real quick. It has to be the herbs, right?
Plus, there’s a lot of debate around whether or not coffee is actually healthy for you. So if you’re one of those people who politely declines a cup, it just goes to show you’re probably pretty health-conscious, and that’s admirable in and of itself. According to the Chinese tea and food blog, Hello Tea Cup, non-coffee drinkers may “have more discipline and control over their lives and are more health conscious than ‘coffee people’” for a plethora of reasons, but especially because coffee contributes to stanky breath, plus it has addictive properties that keep you coming back for refill after refill, to the point where you’re drinking coffee late in the day, compromising your sleep, and really, it’s just a vicious cycle. But you’re above that, so go you!
All joking aside, though, it doesn’t matter if you’re a coffee drinker, a tea drinker, or neither. At the end of the day, one person isn’t better than the other. In fact, no one really cares what you’re drinking. All that matters is you’re staying hydrated.