The Love between Coffee and Code

Have you ever wondered why most programmers love taking coffee while they are in an intense coding session? I know I do, I love my beans every time I am writing some code. I have been asking myself this. And now let's find out why?

· 5 min read
The Love between Coffee and Code
“Why do you programmers fetishize drinking coffee?”

A question most friends have been asking me. I believe the biggest reason is that coffee is a symbol of concentration. And coders need to concentrate to get any meaningful work done. A coding session can be intense and a boost to focus and concentration is a big plus since you want to write good clean code and avoid the dreaded "bugs" while running that session's code.

It is a widespread concept that drinking coffee can benefit work that relies on productivity and steady brain function—easy to see, then, why it is a preferred beverage for people who need just that.

Having a cup of coffee by your side when you dive into some complicated code is part of a habit. It’s almost like a trigger for me when I’m pondering a complicated problem: As soon as I sit down with a cup of coffee in my hand I know the ideas will start flowing.

It’s also a signal to my coworkers and the people around me that says “Leave me alone, I need to get stuff done now.” It’s definitely a ritual for the other developers I spoke with.

The programmer's Coffee Culture

Coffee culture plays a big role, too. Visit the office of any tech company and you’ll see there are coffee machines everywhere. People will congregate around them to chat or have impromptu meetings. And if there aren’t any coffee machines visible then people will flock to nearby cafes to get out for a bit and have “walk and talk” meetings to grab a cup of coffee or tea.

I wouldn’t underestimate the bonding effect this has. A lot of programmers are quite introverted and this might also mean that going out for a cup of coffee with a coworker gets associated with feeling good quickly.

There’s no denying, programmers all around the world seem to love their coffee. They love it so much they named a programming language after it. James Gosling named the Java programming language after coffee.

What’s great about drinking coffee is that programmers then also get to show off their coffee mugs. I noticed developers seem quite buzzed to get a cool or funny coffee mug to show their love for a certain programming language or technology stack. Every software engineer wants a nice coffee mug on their desk. Any hacker worth their salt will most likely have a fun and geeky coffee mug on their desk. Some coders even use their coffee mugs as collectibles.

And have you seen most programmers' laptops especially the ones glazed with stickers? I guarantee you will find at least one sticker that talks about coffee or a funny quote on programming and coffee.

Is Coffee Beneficial to My Work as a Programmer?

If coffee is part of your routine when setting up for work, it can easily turn into a trigger for productivity. You have your mug on your desk. Now you are ready to code and make the most of this sweet, sweet performance booster.

These effects are not just myths but come from coffee’s ability to raise energy levels and improve the average attention span. That, in turn, allows for more productive brain function that helps with performing tasks that demand analytical thinking and problem-solving.

Just what I need !

Not to mention, coffee has been observed to help greatly when tackling mental health issues.

Coffee has undeniable benefits when it comes to health and cognition. However, it is important to mention that excessive caffeine intake can easily overwhelm the positive effects. In those cases, a caffeine detox would be preferential in order to reset the caffeine tolerance and allow renewed enjoyment of the perks, without the side effects.

On average, drinking two or three cups of moderately strong coffee will nurture a lot of great benefits in terms of performance. But if you drink more than the recommended amount consistently over a long period of time, you may start to develop potentially dangerous side effects. And this is the love and hate relationship between coffee and programmers.

Are There Any Dangerous Side Effects?

As far as side effects go, most of them come with excessive use. Chugging down multiple mugfuls a day is not something that should ever be allowed to turn into a full-blown habit. Some of the risks that come with overconsumption may include:

  • Sleep disruption
  • Anxiety
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Dependency
  • Irritability
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure

As with any side effect, maintaining consumption consistently over a long period of time causes the issue to become more and more severe and can cause permanent damage to the affected system.

Considering that reaching dangerous levels is completely avoidable, not only is there no need to put your body through unnecessary harm and stress, but it is impractical and not particularly logical.

However, being wary of the risks that come with overconsumption is a must if you want to avoid stepping into the dangerous zone of hard-to-shake side effects.

It’s All a Matter of Balance

As a developer, the choice of drinking coffee to boost your productivity depends on balance and moderation.

Enjoying coffee is great, and the same goes for getting an advantage in your routine or feeling better and more energetic. However, you should also be honest about the downsides you may have experienced from coffee. Does it negatively affect your health? Do you actually depend on coffee to function normally? Does it damage your quality of sleep?

Answer those questions for yourself and choose whether drinking coffee helps your career as a programmer or not. In the end, it’s all a matter of balance and choosing the path that makes you a better programmer.

I do enjoy the benefits of having a good mug of coffee and good music while on a coding session but every now and then I have to detox from the caffeine and tea helps me with that. Even this website has a hint of the coffee culture, "beans".

It's a love and hate cycle for me.