2011-06-09 / Opinions

Now that we know coffee is healthy, I guess I’ll have to take my medicine

news editor

There’s good news for coffee drinkers everywhere: Coffee is not just good, it’s good for you.

In the latest study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a group of Harvard researchers announced that their study had found that drinking coffee actually reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Other recent studies show that drinking coffee cuts a man’s risk of heart attack and stroke, and the study says the more coffee he drinks, the better the benefit.

That’s right, the more coffee you drink, the better for your health.

Suddenly, the scientific studies that I often mock actually agree with me. Now, I’m a lifelong drinker and lover of good coffee and plenty of it, so I’ve followed what the latest studies said about the health effects of my one daily indulgence. Now they say it’s really, really good for you, so I’m taking this one to the bank.

When it comes to coffee I started early, but I really hit my stride in the U. S. Navy. There’s something symbiotic between coffee and the military, mostly to do with the fact that nearly everybody stands watch somewhere in the wee hours of a midwatch, not to mention the fact that on most military operations, sleep is optional but alertness is not.

It didn’t help that, during the Gulf War, my family and I lived near the U.S. Sixth Fleet base in Gaeta, Italy, so when I wasn’t at sea chugging Navy coffee in the Chiefs’ Mess, I was drinking Italian espresso ashore at the café bar next door to the base.

The first time I ever spoke Italian to an Italian person was to order what was to become my favorite drink, espresso doppio, the dreaded double espresso, made by a real Italian barista with a real Italian espresso machine. This was not Starbucks -- the double shot was 1,000 Italian lire, equal to a buck at the time, and my day was not complete without one in the morning and one after lunch.

At sea, of course, the coffee pot was always going, pumping out the lifeblood of sailors everywhere. Drinking coffee was not just a functional necessity; it was a part of the everyday community life onboard, a social thing with its own customs and traditions. I have to say one of my finest moments in the service was to hang my coffee mug in the Chief Petty Officers’ Mess of the Sixth Fleet flagship, knowing I’d always be welcome there.

Needless to say, we drank coffee all over Europe. On trips to the Alps, we loved the strong German coffee with real cream. I drank quite a bit of coffee in Germany, partly because we were driving a nice legal 100 mph and more on the autobahn, and caffeine really sharpened my focus on the road. Plus, at those speeds, I didn’t even want to blink.

Okay, by now one or two of you are just dying to butt in with something about caffeine being a little habit-forming. Yes, I know I’m hopelessly hooked. I’m addicted to the wonderful smells and tastes that reside in a cup of hot, fresh coffee, and, oh yeah, the caffeine.

Only now, there’s no guilt. I’m willing to live with this wonderful addiction for the rest of my long, long life. Now that we know coffee’s good for me in so many ways, you’ll never pry my coffee cup from my fingers.

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