USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

Java Jumpstart

Guest Blog by Diane Bock

flat-white-coffeeThe Age of Enlightenment is associated with intellectual exchange, reason and sharing of the new ideas. We think of names like Isaac newton, Thomas Jefferson and John Locke. Could this new way of thinking also be connected with coffee?

During this period the coffee house emerged as a social center.  People from all walks of life mixed and mingled and pollinated each others’ ideas.  They also started consuming buckets of coffee while moving away from swilling beer morning, noon and night.  Prior to that, beer was the safest beverage due to the pollution levels of water. Hence, large numbers of citizens were semi-intoxicated a lot of the time.
But once coffee became available, the tipsy were replaced by the wired. The dulling effects of alcohol gave way to the stimulation of caffeine.  Imagine Ben Franklin and his cronies yacking it up in a London coffeehouse or Voltaire chit chatting with other deep thinkers from the worlds of science, religion, politics and economics, each sipping that era’s equivalent of a latte or cappuccino.  No wonder the world saw a boost in innovation.