A couple years ago when I was going through a painful season in my life, a dear friend suggested I write something I was grateful for each day. Nearly every day for a year, I posted a gratitude challenge on my social media sites. It helped me appreciate the simple things despite my circumstances. Well, I’m in the same place again, so here we go.
When I sold yellow pages advertising back in the day, I called on a new coffee house. Mind you, this was way back before you could find one on every corner. The proprietor was busy when I arrived, so she offered to make me something while I waited. I didn’t like coffee… AT ALL. Being the amiable, polite type, I agreed, but I had no clue what to order. She made me a whole milk almond latte. Latte schmatte, what in the world was that? It was delicious, that’s what! Now I am a latte junkie, except I’ve swapped out the almond syrup for vanilla.
Even those who don’t like the taste of coffee no matter how fancy it is often still appreciate the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans. There’s a reason for that. Smell is an important sense as it can alert us to danger such as a fire or a gas leak, but it is also closely linked to the parts of the brain that process emotion and memory.
For the more scientifically minded among you, here’s how the sense of smell works:
- Vaporized odor molecules (chemicals) floating in the air reach the nostrils and dissolve in the mucus on the roof of each nostril. (Sorry, I hate the word "mucus" too.)
- Underneath the mucus, in the olfactory epithelium, specialized receptor cells called olfactory receptor neurons detect the odor. These neurons are capable of detecting thousands of different odors.
- The olfactory receptor neurons transmit the information to the olfactory bulbs, which are located at the back of the nose.
- The olfactory bulbs have sensory receptors that send messages directly to primitive brain centers that access memories and remind us about people, places, or events associated with these olfactory sensations.
I fondly remember the aroma of coffee brewing in my mother’s kitchen every morning and it reminds me of my childhood. She always made a delicious hot breakfast before sending me off to school and coffee was always part of that pot-pourri of aromas.
Although she used Folgers or Maxwell House and I grind gourmet beans, my emotive response is the same. Java, thanks for the memories. I think I’ll have a cuppa right now.
Until next time,