Nostalgia and Coffee: A Powerful Combination
If it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.― David Letterman
When you think about what makes an introvert happy, a few things come to mind. Beautiful nature with no other people around. A good book or movie enjoyed alone or with one other person for silent company. Above all, the comfort of a warm beverage and the company of your own thoughts, including memories and nostalgia for the past.
Drinking coffee and escaping the world through music or silent thinking into a haze of nostalgia is a common pastime for introverts, so common that it is almost a cliché. Even the Internet has seized on this combination, leading to many memes about this ritual.
Why did the combination of nostalgia and coffee become so important for introverts that we make memes about it all the time? Here’s a deep dive into what that means to me, and what I hope it means to all of you fellow introverts reading this from the comfort of your own quiet homes.
Why Drinking Coffee Can Be an Important Ritual for Introverts
For many introverts, the ritual of the first cup of coffee in the morning is a precious thing. Even extroverts get it—that’s why you have so many novelty coffee mugs with slogans like, “Don’t talk to me before coffee.” But why is coffee so important for introverts in particular?
One reason may be the special properties of the beverage. Caffeine, as long as you take it in the right doses, helps you focus and think deeply. For introverts, who really are fueled by the power of our own thoughts, this is an important quality indeed. Coffee is like the super beverage to help us become even happier in our own heads, which are already our favorite places to be.
However, drinking coffee is not just about the beverage itself—it’s about the ritual. A quiet cup of coffee in the morning helps us introverts gather our thoughts and energy in preparation for the day. During the rest of the day, you may have to socialize and give your energy to other people, but during that first cup of coffee, your time is your own. The actual beverage is less important than the quality time by yourself, and many people repeat this same ritual with tea, hot chocolate, or any other drink.
Drinking coffee is an important introvert ritual and not just first thing in the morning. Drinking coffee is a great way to exist as an introvert in public. When you want to be around people but not actively socialize, a coffee shop is a great place to be. Plus, nursing a cup of coffee alone and thinking is socially acceptable in a way going for a meal in a restaurant by yourself still isn’t. The coffee means people won’t bother you and will respect your solitude, even if you are in a public place.
The Role of Nostalgia for People Who Are Always Thinking
Another common companion of introverts is nostalgia.
Of course, extroverted people get nostalgic as well. Everyone has fond memories of the past they like to look back on, especially when looking through old Christmas albums or talking to older relatives. However, we introverts tend to be more nostalgic than extroverts. It’s probably because we spend more time in our own heads, so we have more time to dedicate to musing on everything, including our own pasts.
A good nostalgic thinking session can be really fun for introverts. It’s nice to sink back into the past and think about fond memories. Since we spend so much time thinking, introverts can conjure up vivid images of the past when we get deep into a musing session. Then, our old memories feel even more real.
Nostalgia is also a great form of escapism. Instead of wallowing in the problems of the present, you can get motivation and release from thinking about the past. It is an easy, affordable way to escape your present situation, just for a little bit—all you need is your own head and a bit of peace and quiet.
Don’t Get Stuck in the Past: The Downsides of Nostalgia
While nostalgia can be a fun companion for introverts, getting too caught up in vivid memories of the past is not always a good thing.
The pain of nostalgia is that eventually, you will have to come crashing down to reality. Sadly, you cannot stay in your immersive memories of the past forever, and eventually, you will have to return to the present day. If you spend too much time thinking of the past, you make your return to reality harder every time.
At other times, an introvert’s vivid imagination and powerful thinking may turn into a negative for us. Your imagination may turn your nostalgic thoughts even rosier than they usually are. You may start idealizing the past and comparing it negatively to the present, making you dissatisfied with your personal life, when in reality, the past you are thinking about maybe wasn’t as good as you think it was.
The flip side is that dwelling on the past can also resurface painful memories, forcing you to relive the pain of a bad situation over and over again. Introverts and our power of thinking can make negative situations feel too realistic.
How Do Coffee and Nostalgia Go Together?
So we’ve established that coffee and nostalgia are both excellent companions for introverts, but why are they paired together so often? These two go together as well as cheese and crackers and, well, coffee and cake.
There are a few reasons why drinking coffee and getting nostalgic is such a perfect introvert activity. One is that coffee is the perfect pensive activity. Drinking the beverage forces you to carve out time in your day when you are not working, and other people instinctively recognize that coffee is someone’s private moment when they shouldn’t be disturbed.
Having a nice nostalgic thinking session is easier once you set the atmosphere. You can do that by putting on music from your youth—music is another thing that introverts experience deeply. Coffee helps add to that atmosphere that sends you into a nostalgic haze. Maybe the smell of roasting coffee reminds you of your parents getting ready in the morning or quiet afternoons spent in a favorite coffee shop while studying.
Or the act of consuming a warm beverage just makes you feel cozy inside, preparing you for the wonderful feelings nostalgia brings up.
Whatever the reason, there is a deep pleasure in putting on a favorite album, brewing a hot cup of coffee, and getting ready to sink deep into your memories. The combination of the two, as the Internet parlance goes, “hits different” in a way that just drinking coffee or just getting nostalgic alone doesn’t.
The Internet Recognizes the Power of this Combination
We are not the only ones to recognize the power of this combination. There are plenty of Internet memes about the power of getting nostalgic while drinking coffee.
One of the most popular examples of this meme is the YouTube video “An Hour of Matthew McConaughey Watching Rain and Drinking Coffee.” Although the video was meant to be a joke, many people turn to the compilation for a soothing watch. “It is one of the most strangely relaxing videos I’ve found on here,” one commentator said. Others shared their own experiences of doing the same thing.
That is just one example of memes about the power of nostalgia and coffee for introverts. It makes sense that memes about introverts are so popular on the Internet. After all, we’re more likely to socialize online where we have more control over our social batteries. The popularity of these memes shows how widespread this experience is for introverts.
Escaping the World or Another Way to Be Present?
Many people love nostalgia because it is an escape from the world, including introverts. However, other people criticize nostalgia because they say it is unnecessary escapism. People use it to escape their problems instead of facing them head-on.
However, being nostalgic is sometimes another way to be present in the moment. Thinking about the past helps us reflect better on the present. Plus, being nostalgic often helps us appreciate the moment better. One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to think about my favorite traditions from childhood, which makes me more likely to appreciate those traditions now. Plus, getting my quality time in thinking and being nostalgic gives me more energy so I can be present for people when I have to socialize.
When we think about an introvert’s favorite activities, drinking coffee and being nostalgic doesn’t seem like it should be on the list. Is that even a proper activity, after all? However, this combination is such an important thing for introverts. We can immerse ourselves in the past using our vivid powers of thinking. Although nostalgia can sometimes be painful and a bad coping mechanism, it also helps us appreciate the present and provides a pleasant distraction.