Powered by Coffee: How Hot Coffee on a Cold Day Helps People Get Along Better


It has been a snowless winter here in northern NJ, so we decided to go to the snow, since it wasn’t coming to us. Had a lovely weekend, at a lovely place, Frost Valley YMCA (a camp/retreat/environmental educational center in the Catskills) where the mugs are sturdy and the coffee is hot and plentiful.

This thing happens to me every time I see snow outside. My coffee intake naturally increases. It’s Pavlovian, yes, but also a common response it turns out. On average, drinking a cup of coffee raises your core body temperature by 2.6 degrees.

But scientifically, it’s also about the emotional impact of a cup of hot coffee. According to an article published in Science Journal “warmth is the most powerful personality trait in social judgment.” In the study, researchers found that study subjects who were given a cup of hot coffee had a better perception of the person who gave them the coffee. They rated that person as more trustworthy, warmer, and more socially attractive.

Add to that the impact of caffeine and the power of ritual, and it’s clear why cold snowy days and hot, freely flowing coffee are so intertwined. The time went fast, but it was a nice weekend of well-groomed trails, an infinitely patient staff who helped with the ziplining harnesses, and unlimited coffee.

My big takeaway is how precious these days are, and how drinking coffee is a largely universal phenomenon that actually makes people friendlier, happier, and ‘warmer’ overall.  



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