The Caffeine Age
How caffeine created civilization as we know it:
If alcohol inspired agriculture, caffeine jumpstarted progress. While the Chinese drank caffeinated tea as far back as 3,000 B.C., the discovery of coffee is dated to 15th century Yemen. Trade with the Arab world transformed European culture — the caffeine in coffee, a stimulant, replaced alcohol, a prevalent depressant.We are the hangover from the Middle Ages...
"The impact of the introduction of coffee into Europe during the seventeenth century was particularly noticeable since the most common beverages of the time, even at breakfast, were weak 'small beer' and wine," Tom Standage wrote in A History of the World in 6 Glasses. "Both were safer than water, which was liable to be contaminated. ... Coffee ... provided a new and safe alternative to alcoholic drinks. Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved."
"Western Europe began to emerge from an alcoholic haze that had lasted for centuries," Standage quipped.