One doesn't drink coffee in the morning because one is thirsty, or because it provides nutritional value, or because one enjoys it, or because one is hooked. Rather it is a chance to revel in life--to enjoy its dark and bitter waters, the acidic aftertaste. Then, and only then, you know that your day couldn't possibly be that bad and you gain in the strength to go on.... One more step.... One more day of tedium.
And it helps to focus for some reason. I find I think twice as fast and twice as focused after a good meal and a couple of cups of coffee. If you skip the meal, then you just get a super caffeine high which lasts some 15 minutes and then you burn out. But whatever.
So there is a balance involved in drinking coffee. A balance of solid and liquid. Of drink and eat. Like the natural flows of the universe.
There is a certain macho factor too. Like when I'm working, I don't want a mamby-pamby cup of starbucks or green mountain coffee! I want a cup of coffee made from dirt. I want to put my spoon in my coffee and have full confidence that it will stand up in the coffee and not touch any of the sides. The coffee should be either scalding hot, or arctic cold. It should be black as night, bitter, and mildly acidic. You should be able to use the same cup of coffee to take the rust off your car.
Update 12/9/2004: Sometime back in 1999 or so I started getting the shakes on the weekends when I wasn't at work. This was around the time when I was working for a company that had one of those really fancy coffee machines. So I quit drinking coffee. After a few weeks, I stopped getting headaches and feeling the effects of withdrawal.
Then I started drinking tea and went through a tea phase.
Then in 2001 or 2002 or sometime around there, I started drinking one or two cups a day. Every week or so I'd read yet another article that waxed philosophical about the incredible HARMS or the incredible BOONS of drinking some amount of coffee a day.
Now I'm up to two cups a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Doesn't really matter if it's caffeinated or decaffeinated--I think I drink it mostly as a habit. Drinking water doesn't really do it for me.
See, that update was really interesting! Just like the rest of the essay! In retrospect, the "drinking coffee is macho" meme is probably a phase most folks go through as well. Part of me wonders what the differences between "drinking coffee is macho" and "smoking is macho" would be. Are they psychologically similar enough to be equivalent?