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The Sun Also Rises - But Where's My Coffee?

03/03/2014 12:09 GMT | Updated 02/05/2014 10:59 BST

The Role of Coffee in Our Daily Lives Reconsidered

The sun rises. The sky is blue. The breakfast table is set up. The sunlight is now creeping through your window while you are still lying in the warm winter bed. But your normal exclamation at this point, 'Perfect', is absent. Why is that so? You sit down on a cozy chair, but remain utterly unsatisfied...

...Upon the realisation that you have not had the privilege that morning, of sipping a warm, bubbly cup of cafe latte. Yes? I dare say that you dearly miss the senses it would entrance, the textures it would create, and the bitterness its sweetness would coexist with.

Coffee is a blend of simplicity and genius. Although a very different product in the global market from a MacBook Pro or an iPad, coffee plays a significant role in many people's lives, influencing coffee producers and customers in various ways. In order to understand the role of coffee in our daily lives, let us stop thinking about that foamy cup of cappuccino you really deserve now, and reconsider a tiny coffee bean.

Why do you like coffee so much? Perhaps that you like the process which the barista behind the counter prepares your favourite coffee beans right in front of you with the background music. But behind each coffee bean is a story of responsibility and hope. Starbucks, for instance, prides itself in its company social responsibility, particularly fair trade. A wide variety of company's coffee beans are imported from less economically developed countries such as Guatemala, Rwanda and Kenya, helping support the employed coffee producers' means of subsistence by bringing positive ethical implications. In such means, Starbucks successfully wins more customers' favour and trust. The coffee company's brand image is improved with its continuous emphasis on company social responsibility not limited to fair trade, but includes building schools in poor neighbourhood and donating fundings to improve the education system.

As a business organisation, Starbucks surely succeeds in innovating a lifestyle that each coffee shop is a 'Third Place' outside of work and home. In China, for instance, there are more than 570 Starbucks stores in the country's 48 cities. You might wonder how Starbucks has managed to break the cultural and social barriers to entry to succeed in this heavily tea-oriented culture. The history of coffee merely traces back to 1,000 years back, whilst any patriotic Chinese national may enthusiastically comment that the Chinese infatuation with tea can trace as far back as 200 C.E., back in the Wei Dynasty. Starbucks must have been courageous to globalise its products! However, though we gasp at the increasing number of coffee shops here in Beijing such as Costa and Pacific Coffee Company and the annual Chinese consumption of 70 billion RMB, we need to admit that the Chinese coffee market is yet extremely insignificant compared to the rest of the world. For Starbucks' market share, total sales revenue in China only takes up about 3.3%. Its CEO, Howard Schultz, is planning to expand the Chinese market size to a total of 1,500 shops by the year 2015.

I vividly recall the day when I got my first taste of coffee, as a six-year-old. I was flying from Australia back to Beijing. On the plane, I tasted a tiny drop of coffee, which immediately charmed and conquered me, almost winning over my omnipotent passion for hot chocolate. I got off the plane at 5:00 a.m., and excitedly got to school, ready for classes without feeling tired after a sleepless night.

As a high school student, I have fallen in love with coffee, even more. As I sit down in cafés which have inspired generations of thinkers and writers, I started to reconsider the consumption of coffee among us teenagers. If you are a student from the United States, perhaps you have heard about the notorious FOUR Principle before. If not, please grab a cup of coffee, and let's review it together. Teenagers of my age who ace the heavy demands placed by AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate) classes, cheerfully chant with the effects of the caffeine that 'four hours a day of sleep; four cups of coffee a day, and a GPA of 4.0.' What an awesome combination! However, dependency on coffee increases simultaneously with decreased resting hours and improved GPAs. Imagine what our generation will be like on the day when we step into our offices with our perfect weapons to exterminate drowsiness, the classic cups of espresso. How many cups of coffee do we need then?

I see that you are yawning. Would you like a coffee break now? If you are sixteen (or under), though, please be careful not to overindulge in this fascinating drink. Hopefully, this article has been like the bottom of a cup of coffee, leaving you a yearning for more!

Need a refill? :) More blog entries to come!