If you’ve ever had to wake up early for an opening shift at work or stay up late finishing a project, usually some sort of liquid caffeine helps the process go a bit smoother. How many times has that been tea? Coffee? A soft drink or energy drink? More times than not it’ll be coffee. Granted, a cola or Mountain Dew from time to time help break the monotony of coffee, but the likelihood of tea getting to your hands is slim.

That choice of coffee over tea has a variety of factors, all of which are valid. I feel that decision could even trace its way back to the beginning of our nation. Britain enjoyed tea. We didn’t enjoy Britain. So we dumped it all in the Boston Harbor (not only in defiance of the nation itself, but everything can be traced to economics at some point). After that moment, the colonists felt they could make the comparison of coffee vs. tea is equal to American vs. England. Thus, our ‘coffee culture’ started.

In the modern day, coffee shops outnumber tea houses in the states to an unfair degree. The number of commonly known tea brands is always dwarfed by the number of commonly coffee brands. Even then, they are known more for the iced tea they produce. Iced tea is also American in that it’s a middle finger to how the drink was originally prepared; a rebellion in the tea world itself. But our ‘coffee culture’ is not like other cultures where coffee is the primary and preferred drink. American coffee culture is unique. It’s unique in that we have the cheapest coffee beans and the elite coffee beans in the same building, sometimes even next to each other. We have lower class, middle class, upper class, working, and unemployed alike drinking coffee next to each other. It is not a drink that only one group of people enjoy. Everyone can and typically does enjoy some form of coffee.

The reasons behind this are simple: it’s cheap and fast. A cup of coffee can cost no more than $1 but on the same hand can be more than $10. Ask for a cup of coffee and maybe a minute later it’s in your hand already being enjoyed. We are a people of efficient and economically sound practices and of almost instant gratification. Coffee gives us just that. The caffeine buzz is quick to enter and hard to leave. It can be had in a mere few ounce shot or a whole pot of brew. With different flavors and sugars and milks we have also made a seemingly countless variety of cups of coffee to be had.

Tea doesn’t have all that. Don’t feel extreme bias here, I enjoy both coffee and tea regularly but they have their time. Coffee is the for the on-the-go person who needs a quick drink that can keep them going. Tea slows everything down a notch. It has to be steeped in smaller quantities, which takes more time. It has lower caffeine, so more has to be had for the same effect of coffee. Sugary flavors can’t be added to mask the taste of tea so children and those who don’t even like coffee or tea tend to shy away from it. Tea is almost made to be sipped on, in a relaxed manner, with no sense of urgency on the mind.

Coffee is the counter-part of that, coinciding with a fast paced culture such as ours. And with that, fills a very large niche with the American people.