In honor of Veteran’s Day, many coffee chains, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, have been giving free coffee and coffee drinks to Veterans. This is just one way to show respect to these hard-working individuals, who have served our country faithfully. It may seem like a small gesture, but ask any military man or woman about coffee, and they will tell you that coffee is a HUGE deal when it comes being in the service---whether you’re on the battlefield, or in a supportive role.
Coffee is the lifeblood for most demanding professions, from doctors, to traders, teachers, and construction crews---the day cannot start properly without a strong infusion of coffee. Add to this list, soldiers and other military professionals, who drink coffee, frequently, in large amounts.
NPR aired a segment in 2016, which revealed that coffee was an obsession during the Civil War. In fact, according to Smithsonian curator, Jim Grinspin, during the Civil War, letters from soldiers mentioned coffee more than slavery, guns, or President Lincoln. They droned on and on about the coffee they would have for breakfast. Union men depended on it for every aspect of combat.
Confederate soldiers weren’t as lucky. When the war started, Union soldiers closed southern ports, meaning nothing could come in---not even coffee. Indeed, coffee was a major competitive advantage for Union soldiers.
From one century to the next, coffee is front and center
Fast forward to the major wars of the 20th century---WW1 and WW2---and reliance on coffee only increased. During WW1 each soldier got 36 pounds of coffee, which they brewed with any water they could get---fresh water ideally, as well as brackish water, rain run-off, and even water from puddles.
And how about the 21st century? Coffee has been elevated even more in military life. In June, the U.S. Army did an analysis involving soldiers and coffee-drinking (caffeinated coffee), with the goal of determining the optimal amount of caffeine for a soldier. The article was published in the Journal of Sleep Research. The upshot: Researchers found that consuming an optimal amount of coffee/caffeine can increase soldiers’ level of alertness by 64%.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were no more wars, where there would be soldiers craving coffee. That vision, however, is not grounded in reality. War is a persistent part of the human experience, unfortunately. So given that reality, let’s hope that soldiers are getting the coffee they need, and enjoying every drop of it.