“I have no words.” – Americans Obsession with Beverages

NOTE: I write this while nursing a medium cappuccino and with a cup of water on standby.

I have a drinking problem, but I don’t think it’s just me.  I think the majority of Americans have a drinking problem to some degree, although much depends on geography.  While at work, my desk is littered with cups, all with varying fullness.  I don’t feel comfortable without a thermos of water in my bag.  When I apply the brakes in my car, beverage bottles roll and rattle.

I didn’t fully realize the extent of my obsession until I started hanging out with my friend Tania, who is French.  She brought it to my attention that whenever we went for a coffee, I would order mine in a to-go cup and she would order hers for “here.”  Her idea of a coffee involves sitting down and taking her time to enjoy it.  I always assume that I won’t have time to finish my drink so I should have it ready to go.  This is when she pointed out that Americans always have a drink in their hand.

LatteSalute1 (1)

Really? It’s true.  I’ve given this a lot of thought.  I think a cup acts much like a security blanket.  Having a cup announces to passers by, look, I’ve been somewhere, I’ve done something, I’m someone who has a full life and needs to drink on the go to accommodate it.    Maybe it didn’t start out that way, but I think, as a culture, we are obsessed with looking busy.  We seem to associate levels of busyness with levels of importance.

One sec, I need another water.  Free refills, also American.


Are Americans drinking more than other countries or just toting drinks around?  The United States is number 25 for coffee consumption according to Wikipedia.

According to this map, the United States consumes more carbonated soft drinks than any other country.  I’ve lived on both coasts and it’s not soda cans I see people carrying around.  It’s coffee cups and water bottles.  I called my mom who lives in the Midwest and asked her if she sees people carrying around coffee or soda as they go about their day.  She said no, but that she likes to have water in her purse.  Maybe I got that from her?

A drink is never far from us.  We have an abundance of cup holders in our cars.  I’ve learned from research that our cup holders are larger than other countries’.  When looking for a new car last year I snubbed a perfectly fine car because as I declared “There aren’t enough cup holders.”  My husband laughed at me but I insisted it was an important consideration.

This is a picture of my car during a family trip.  Too much?  When seeing this pic, my friend Tania said "I have no words."

This is a picture of my car during a family trip. Too much? When seeing this pic, my friend Tania said “I have no words.”

Strollers even have cup holders.  I also ran across this nifty product that made even me giggle.

Luggage cup holder allows you to carry two drinks at once!  One in your hand and one on your luggage.

Luggage cup holder allows you to carry two drinks at a time! One in your hand and on on your luggage.

Maybe I don’t have a drinking problem.  Maybe it’s the drinking equivalent to food for foodies?  Maybe I’ve internalized the movement to stay hydrated that has overtaken the country in the last 15 years.   I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but I do know that I’m a happy participant in this American phenomenon and have embraced it fully.  It’s time to leave the coffee shop and my cappuccino isn’t finished.  I knew I should have gotten it to go.


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4 Responses to “I have no words.” – Americans Obsession with Beverages

  1. Debbie says:

    This is so good. Love the way you write! Can’t wait to see more. xoxo

  2. Sam says:

    Jessica, great post, keep them coming. I discourage “to go” cups. Just another thing to think about. Our obsession with hydration is a result of the successful PR campaign of the bottled water industry to sell their product on the basis of health and youthfulness. The human body is better adapted to deal with mild dehydration than over hydration.

  3. Flor says:

    +1. I am from Argentina and the fact people carry drinks around called my attention as well as the huge packaging/take away industry.
    People seem too busy, too much on the go … Or just not wanting to wash dishes 😉

  4. I LOVE this article. It’s so true. I’m a Brit and I’ve noticed the American obsession with carrying around large buckets of coffee and sipping them until they’re stone cold. Hilarious.

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