I think that’s a great question worth writing about. I believe the biggest reason is that coffee is a symbol of concentration. And me as code nerds need to concentrate to get any meaningful work done.
Having a cup of coffee by your side when you dive into some complicated code is part of a habit. It’s almost like a trigger for me when I’m pondering a complicated problem: As soon as I sit down with a cup of coffee in my hand I know the ideas will start flowing.
It’s also a signal to my coworkers and the people around me that says “Leave me alone, I need to get stuff done now.” It’s definitely a ritual for the other developers I spoke with.
There’s research proving that caffeine has cognitive benefits or “makes you smarter”. You fell drowsy when adenosine binds with the adenosine receptors in your brain. When you have coffee, the caffeine in it comes in and the receptor binds with it instead of the adenosine produced by your body.
That gives you more energy and a stronger ability to focus. That way caffeine is a drug that makes you better at executing your ideas. It’s like a tool that helps software developers get into the zone, to hunker down and get stuff done.
For me personally a big reason for drinking coffee is that it seems to wake up my brain in the morning. Maybe I’m just addicted to caffeine at this point but it feels amazing to get my brain into gear and ready for work with a strong cup of Joe in the morning.
Coffee culture plays a big role, too. Visit the office of any tech company and you’ll see there are coffee machines everywhere. People will congregate around them to chat or have impromptu meetings. And if there aren’t any coffee machines visible then people will flock to nearby cafes to get out for a bit and have “walk and talk” meetings to grab a cup of coffee or tea.
I wouldn’t underestimate the bonding effect this has. A lot of programmers are quite introverted and this might also mean that going out for a cup of coffee with a coworker gets associated with feeling good quickly.
There’s no denying—programmers all around the world seem to love their coffee. They love it so much they named a programming language after it. James Gosling named the Java programming language after coffee.