We’ve ranted against the Medical Infotainment industrial complex more than enough times here on this blog. You know the weekly stream of pop medical news headlines: alternating manic depressive cycles of “coffee kills”, then “coffee gives you immortality”, then lather, rinse, repeat. Billions of dollars wasted on decades of coffee medical research, and all we have to show for it is a see-saw of paranoid news bites and the sneaking suspicion that, after a millenium of epidemiological evidence, coffee really doesn’t matter to your health.

Give me coffee or give me death: what's old is new againThis week we witnessed media coverage of a New England Journal of Medicine study that suggested a “lower risk of death for coffee lovers.” Misleading false conclusions aside, no sooner did this news fill media columns and airtime than we were bombarded by press releases emailed from Big Coffee — with various purveyors citing this study as a rationale to sell more of their product.

In other words: drink our coffee, or you will die. Call it ultimatum marketing.

When did coffee become so horrible that its consumption had to be driven by death threats? Instead of appealing to a sensory enjoyment of coffee, we’ve reduced it to the utility (and sexiness) of cod liver oil. Rather than treat coffee as a reward, it is now a self-inflicted punishment. Do these coffee companies really want customers who think, “I don’t like coffee and would never drink it before, but since I don’t want to die…”

Meanwhile, the wine industry can only look on in wonder at just how badly the coffee industry can screw itself over.