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a little coffee musing!

February 18, 2012

As I sit here drinking a cup of americano made from the La Pavoni lever machine using a nicely roasted Rwanda coffee, I can not help but to reflect a little bit about this week. It has been an incrediblely busy week indeed with multiples assignment dued and a lot of time spent in the labratory; it had been often said that a graduate student literally lives in the lab and I did not believe that statement until now. With that kind of busy schedule,  I have been less able to enjoy good coffee but fortunately tonight, I have sometime and make myself a nice cup!

As I have prominently posted the picture of the chemical structure of the molecule so dear to us coffee drinkers, that is caffeine. As someone here already said, when you are a coffee drinking enthusiast, you keep noticing things about coffee popping up everywhere. One of the place I have seen coffee related thing popping up this week is in one of my favorite graduate class, that is Neurochemistry. 

I won't try to bore you with the nitty gritty of neurochemistry but quite intuitively, caffeine's chemical structure is very similar to a neurotransmitter made natively in our brain, that is adenosine.

As you can see, the structure of our friend caffeine is remarkably similar to a part of the native brain chemical, the adenosine. In our brain, one of of the function of adenosine is to regulate sleep/wake cycle specifically, it will decrease wakefullness; this is where our friend caffeine come to the rescue! Caffeine have an antagonistic effect on adenosine and cause us to be more wakeful!

So that is my little bit of musing about coffee and caffeine. Hopefully, that excellent cup of americano can do it's job and keep me awake as I really need to finish a reading assignment for monday!






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