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Coffee Nation

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Never mind Iraq. Never mind gas prices. And never mind the fact that you need to weed your lawn. Sometimes we just want to brew a cup of coffee.

Utah has never had a passionate affair with the hot, dark brew. The Valley’s first-ever Starbucks was planted at the Salt Lake City International Airport. Back then, the price of a Starbucks latte seemed so outrageous that an airport location made perfect sense. Weary travelers held hostage by $25 lunches might not even blink at $3 for a coffee drink. Now Starbucks are reproducing like dandelions at the worldwide rate of three stores per day. But enough weeding references. There are, it seems, some real benefits to drinking lots of this stuff. But, please, don’t mention that clichéd line from that tired T.S. Eliot poem. Just buckle up, pour another cup, and shut up. As everyone knows, talk about coffee—as opposed to coffee talk—spurs lots of debate in Utah, and not just because coffee tends to make some of us more prone to argue:

& ull; Drink to your health: Every moron knows coffee contains caffeine, a vigorous stimulant to both brain and cardiovascular system. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It improves circulation, helps keep asthma at bay and relieves headaches. Play a game of chess with coffee. Play a game of chess without it. You no doubt lost the second game.

It contains magnesium, and antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid. An Italian scientist at Bergamo’s Humanitas Gavazzeni Institute (who doesn’t even drink the stuff, she hates it so much) believes coffee does a liver good. A United States study found the same. Drink coffee, and you’re more likely to maintain a normal, healthy liver—even if, as always, “more study is needed.”

Diabetes? Grind those beans and grind away your worries, but you might be grinding your teeth. Two scientific studies, one Finnish the other American, found that people who drank three to four cups per day decreased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost 30 percent. And women who drank 10 or more cups (whoa there!) reduced their risk by almost 80 percent. Some scientists have also found evidence that it reduces the risk of developing gallstones and Parkinson’s disease. Even the risk of decalcification in women who drink coffee seems a little overblown. It seems only women 65 and older need count their cups.

& ull; Put down that gun! Drink coffee! Several Scandinavian studies have shown that coffee consumption staves off suicide. But in a region of the world where downing two pots a day isn’t out of the ordinary, and where winters can be long and sunless, that makes sense. Rent Carl Theodor Dreyer’s film Ordet, and watch as two Danish families argue Protestant theology, drink vast amounts of coffee and resurrect the dead.

& ull; Balzac wrote his best novels under its effect: “Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges,” he wrote. He left a warning, also: “Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everyone knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring.”

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