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Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,853 ratings  ·  188 reviews
Michael Pollan, known for his best-selling nonfiction audio, including The Omnivores Dilemma and How to Change Your Mind, conceived and wrote Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World as an Audible Original. In this controversial and exciting listen, Pollan explores caffeines power as the most-used drug in the worldand the only one we give to children (in soda pop) ...more
Published January 30th 2020 by Audible Original
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it

This was a brief, interesting overview of the science and history of caffeine and all of the wonderful and terrible things it does to the human brain. I could have done without Pollan's long personal story about what it was like to stop drinking coffee for a few months and then start up again because yes, I too have detoxed from caffeine from time to time, and I too am aware it makes you sleepy and headachey and hate everything. HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM!

Still, I am indebted to this book
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, nonfiction, 2020
I thought I reviewed this a few weeks ago. I'm not sure anymore. Social distancing + caffeine is screwing with my memory. Anyway, a good book, just not top-shelf Pollan. This one seemed like it could have been a forgotten (ugly step sister) to the four longish topics in The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World or like he was starting another drug book like How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and ...more
Alan Teder
PSA March 2020 This is a re-posting as the original audiobook, ratings and reviews were deleted in the 2020 Audible Original new purge by misinformed Goodreads librarians who are not following the Librarian Manual but instead basing their deletions on false information & opinions such as Audible Originals being "behind a paywall", "available only by subscription", "are podcasts" or "not books". There is nothing in the Librarian Manual that excludes these audiobooks, but for some reason, ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The only socially acceptable drug we give our children on a daily basis."

Mr. Pollen's piece on caffeine was startling, funny, educational, and fresh. From the ridiculous amount of caffeine some historical/creative figures used to consume and the creative ways they their beverage to the hilarious responses religious and political groups had when caffeine first burst onto the scene, I was sucked in through the entire narrative of this Audible original. After listening to his
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Enjoyed the book on the history of caffeine and caffeine production in coffee and tea and their ties to the rise of the world economy of the present (although maybe not future). I understand the downsides of colonialism, underdevelopment spurred by coffee and tea production. I don't drink coffee or tea so much myself but I get copious amounts of caffeine through consuming large quantities of diet soda with its caffeine being produced in pharmaceutical factories in China. I haven't studied in ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This one was an Audible Original and was only two hours of listening time -- but it was really enjoyable! Pollan (who also wrote The Omnivores Dilemma very good!) gave quite a bit of detail about the history and origin of caffeine, how it entered society, and what an impact it has made, then and now. He told some about how it affects us -- the good and the bad -- and he even gave up caffeine for three months while writing this to test out what he had learned. As a caffeine consumer myself, I ...more
Ann Schwader
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc-nonfiction
A short (2+ hours) but pretty much right-sized and very entertaining discussion of coffee & tea and how they've affected modern civilization. Once past the origins of both products, there appeared to be more focus on Western rather than Eastern cultures. Also, despite the fact that early English coffeehouses were male-only places, there was no discussion of women's coffee or tea culture during that time. No salons? And, later, no suffragette meetings with tea?

This is an informal,
Vona Stewart
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting history of caffeine, and the science behind what it does to our brains.

Raised in a higher-law mormon family, Ive never had coffee, black tea, caffeinated soda, or any type of energy drink. A grown-ass lady in my forties, I am completely lost in a Starbucks. After going through a faith crisis and subsequent faith transition, I wondered if I ought to reevaluate my relationship with caffeine. Turns out my body doesnt like it much. I get sick and jittery from a dose of Excedrin Migraine,
Mar 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2020-reads
I read this in February and checked my list and its disappeared. I noticed another reviewer saying they also reviewed this already but couldnt remember. Weird glitch. Anyway just rewriting to say hard pass on this one. ...more
Michael F
Mar 18, 2020 added it
Shelves: food-farming
A clever little survey of the effects and history of coffee and tea. Pollan's writing style and mixture of history, science, and personal anecdote are highly engaging. The historical analysis here is particularly interesting, though possibly a bit overstated. The book could use more scientific detail on the positive and negative effects of caffeine.
Kristina Stefanova
Michael Polan has been in my to-read list for a long time.
That's why I felt very excited to check his Audible Original "Caffeine".

His style of writing is pleasing and engaging, and the book is a concise mix of research, history and travelling.

Interestingly, Polan stopped drinking coffee while he was writing this book. He was caffeine-free for three months. And he says that his motivation for writing this book almost disappeared. He lost his confidence and was wondering if the book will be of any
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
This is the first Audible Original which I have given more than three stars. There's hope in these selections after all. LMAO

In such a short amount of time, Pollan condensed thousands of years' worth of history and lots of other scientific and socio-economic data about why caffeine is as well-loved as it is. The wording is simple, so every factoid was easy to understand and remember.

I chose this piece because I used to wonder why many people claim to depend on caffeine to ~*fUnCti0n*~ upon
Lindsay Luke
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the better free Audible Originals. A brief history of caffeine, how it affects people individually and how it's use has affected people as a whole over history. The author also gives caffeine up as he's writing the piece and includes how that affects him. Caffeine supposedly makes us more alert and makes us feel smarter. People like it so much that it fueled world trade, colonialism, and wars - and that was long before Starbucks. Maybe it allowed some of us stay alert at night so we ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible, 2020
I love the way Pollan writes and have enjoyed watching (and, largely, listening) to him hone his craft. He weaves history, science, anthropology, sociology, personal experience, and bons mots together to form a perfectly thought-provoking and enjoyable little tome. This one comes in under 3 hours at natural speed. Pollan is definitely an educated, privileged white dude, but I'm not yet ready to hold that against him.
Sebastian Gebski
Mar 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I can't help being slightly disappointed. This very short audio-book covers mainly sociological aspects of Caffeine & how it has affected the modern world's societies. Both historical & biological aspects are covered very briefly & there are some truly fascinating stories to explore there (e.g. how coffee beans have been snatched from the Middle East or more in-depth comparison between caffeinating via coffee, tea or other substitutes).

In the end, listening to "Caffeine" was quite a
Sara Walker
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook-2020
I listened to the audiobook. The author has given up coffee for 3 months to gain a new perspective on the issue. He has been successful at that. The history of coffee material were not new for me though.
Ira Livingston
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was very interesting and yes Im addicted to it as well. The short story/article brings us from the history of the plant, to the science of what it actually does to the human brain.

Truly we are addicted and cant stop, but a very good read on a topic many of us take for granted.
This is a repost since all our original reviews were deleted. Luckily all I really had to say was this:

Apparently there's just less to say about caffeine than magic mushrooms. Who would have thought. 🤷♀
Anwar Khan
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Insightful - Makes us aware of our relationship with caffeine and its appearance in human history.

I especially liked the fact that coffee was put on trial in Mecca to evaluate its psychoactive properties and potential ramifications on human society.
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
apparently we should blame the coffee plant for capitalism
Kelsey Wheeler
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
As I sit here drinking my coffee, this was an interesting listen! I thought his research was fascinating, but it did get boring.
Caleb  LaRue
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020-reads
Meh, surprisingly little content wrapped into a 2 hour listen. Word choice was overtly descriptive with tangents and digressions that were distracting. I didn't feel like I learned very much, and the read doesn't feel like he really spent very much time researching the topic. Would not recommend.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a short, informational little piece about my drug of choice. What's not to love?
Meg GlitteryOtters
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Shhhhh Ahhhhh
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Decent mini-book. Here are my takeaways and disappointments.

My big takeaways come in a few reframings and a few new facts. The author starts off the book rightly alerting the reader to the fact that caffeine is the only drug so ubiquitously accepted and used that we allow children to consume it (soda is caffeinated for no better reason than that it makes it sell better). In a certain way of considering the situation, the plants that create caffeine have controlled humans into widely pollinating
Jacob Mclaws
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Maybe five years ago, I consumed almost no caffeine. I grew up in a home where soda was one of the seven deadly health sins, and I had avoided most coffee and tea due to my mormon upbringing. So I wasn't really in the habit and I worried I'd become like friends who seemed, if not dependent on coffee, at least heavily influenced by whether their day included a cup or two. But at work I felt at a disadvantage, especially in the morning (I'm not a morning person) and sometimes in the afternoon. I ...more
Craig Childs
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Caffeine constitutes the largest and longest unsupervised drug experiment ever conducted on the human species."

This is a fun, informative, short audiobook that covers the science and economics behind everyone's favorite drug. It also examines caffeine's effects on the course of human history.

Here are some of the facts I learned:

- Plants produce caffeine because it discombobulates and sometimes poisons insects that try to eat their leaves. It also attracts bees and other insects that are
Stefan Bendik
Mar 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
I hated every minute of this product. And a product it is, certainly not what I would call a book. Certainly not something I would recommend to anyone I care about.
Prepare for a 2 hour torture of your eardrums and your intellect. To be fair, the author had warned us in the beginning that it might be a waste of time to listen to his exercise in stating the obvious sprinkled with some facts about the history of caffeine.
The most boring and annoying parts were the ones where he was describing his
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a fun quick read yet did not resolve to bring about change in behavior. Basically, the attitude of Pollan seemed to be a bit blasé, as if to say: "capitalism sucks... farmers are being manipulated...but let's go on with our same habits anyway."

Essentially, this did hint on the idea that caffeine could potentially be destructive for a person's sleep, yet there is not enough research to prove it, and for now, all we know is that caffeine is good for us (if we do not go too far). After
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
what a fun amuse bouche of a book this little treat is: espresso sized. Only available on Audible and a mere two hours, this book takes you down a quick and captivating path of understanding the role that caffeine has played in our development as a species. As someone that abstained from caffeine for 20 years and recently dipped their toe back in, only to discover that addiction has taken hold after a very small ingestion pattern, this topic holds personal interest to me (and I know Im not alone ...more
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Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

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