Picture a bustling café, steam clouding the windows from the late afternoon urban winter….and everywhere, people leaning in toward each other, sharing conversation, falling in love…drinking coffee.
Whether you’re a traditionalist with a cup of strong black drip at your elbow or a more seasonal personality opting for a spiced chocolate mocha this Valentine’s Day, coffee is in the picture. And it should be—studies actually show coffee to be a key factor in how people end up feeling about each other. It may be the ultimate aphrodisiac for those hoping to fall in love (and could also serve as an important nudge toward rekindling a romance that has settled into boredom or routine).
The Psychology of Caffeine
People’s associations with coffee and cafés are overwhelmingly positive. When you ask a date to coffee, you’re capitalizing on an excellent chance that he or she will attribute those positive feelings to you. This also taps into a basic principle developed by Gregory Razran in 1938 known as “The Luncheon Effect”—in essence, people are more easily persuaded to your point of view when sharing food or drink. Moreover, a 2008 study found that holding a warm cup of coffee actually translated into warmer feelings for strangers—people found them more welcoming and trustworthy. This could be the key element in helping a romance to get off the ground—or, if it already is—in helping it stay afloat.
On top of this, caffeine is a stimulant that gets the heart pumping—just like love! If you’re looking for romance, you want the odds in your favor, and caffeine could make all the difference. Not only will your caffeinated date find your conversation more exciting, she might just find herself more persuaded by your charm than otherwise, simply because the caffeine in her drink is making her more attentive. And, potentially, making you more attractive—according to a 1974 study popularly referred to as “The Misattribution of Arousal,” stimulation causing excitement is often misinterpreted as being attracted to those around us.
It’s almost as if the café was designed with intimate conversation in a public place in mind. Unlike a bar or pub, basic volume level is rarely a problem—many café regulars are there to study or work, may already be using headphones, and (most important) are most likely not feeling the influence of alcohol, a surefire contributor to the noise factor. Moreover, most cafés are laid out with plenty of tables for two, and odds are they have the heat kicked up a notch. So you and your partner (or partner-to-be) now have privacy, quiet and warmth to fan the flames of your love.
Just to make sure you close the deal (or alternately, if you just can’t summon the courage to tell her how you really feel) ask the barista to create a masterwork of milk atop your date’s latté or cappuccino—a fern or a heart, depending on how subtle you want to be. A small touch that just might make you a winner this Valentine’s Day!