Warm Hands and a Warm Heart

One of the perks of working for a coffee company is that I can drink coffee all day, every day, and it’s on the house!  This means I end up drinking a lot of coffee.  And I mean A LOT.  The last time I visited my family doctor, she asked me about my coffee consumption and agreed that though I might want to cut back some day, I should never quit drinking coffee.

“It’s about the ritual for you, isn’t it?” she asked.

“You bet!” I said.  There is something truly comforting about holding a warm mug of coffee in my hands.  For one thing, coffee is a part of some of my earliest memories of my mother.  She still drinks coffee almost every morning, but when I was a child I remember her drinking it sometimes with dessert, stirring it with a dainty spoon, allowing me a tiny sip.  Though my mother drinks her coffee without sugar, those moments are unbearably sweet in my mind.  And my own adult devotion to drinking coffee was cemented in college when I endured a semester of student teaching.  In the end, I wasn’t cut out to be a high school English teacher, and it was partly the coffee that got me through those grueling four months of standing in front of the class room, trying to keep my voice and my hands steady.  I often held a mug of warm coffee as I taught.  Though I was only a few years older than most of my students, the coffee made me feel more adult, more qualified.

Perhaps you, too, feel better with a warm mug in front of you.  Happier and comforted.   And it’s not just about the caffeine and its effect on our brains.  It’s not just about a chemical addiction.  It turns out that science has proven what avid coffee drinkers already know:  holding a warm mug in your hands is good for your soul.  Two experiments reported in Science (Oct. 24 2008) indicate that a physical sensation of warmth corresponds with an increased sense of well-being, generosity, and kindness toward others.

The first experiment, conducted by psychologist Lawrence Williams of the UN of Colorado, studied 41 undergraduate students.  When the students entered the lab, they were asked to hold a hot or cold cup of coffee for a brief moment.  Then they were given a fictional description of “Person A” and asked to rate 10 personality traits.  Williams found that the students who held hot cups were more likely to assign positive traits to Person A than those students who held cold cups.  They were more likely to describe Person A as “generous,” “caring,” and “sociable.”

In another study, 53 subjects were asked to judge the quality of a product after momentarily holding a hot or cold therapeutic pad.  They were then given a voucher for their participation in the study and told to keep it for themselves or share it with a friend.  Of those who held the warm therapeutic pad, 54% gave the voucher to a friend.  But only 25% who held the cold pad shared their reward.

Of course, we here at Parks Coffee and ProStar Services, Inc. are happy when you drink our coffee.  But as it turns out, you are probably happier and experience greater sensations of well-being as well.  The coffee business really is a business of the heart after all:  if warm hands lead to a warm heart, we’re definitely glad to share!