Since late this morning, something my coworker Jacob said has really been bothering me. I didn’t say anything at first because, well, I suppose I was just caught off-guard. But now that I’ve reflected on the error in Jacob’s ways, I think it’s in both of our best interests that I go ahead and address it.

You see, Jacob, you might recall during our morning sales meeting that I mentioned I was hungry, to which you replied, “Me too—I haven’t had anything to eat today except coffee.”

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Now, there was a time in my life when someone would say something like this and I would just laugh it off, but I’ve since realized that in order to grow as a person, one must learn from one’s mistakes. So, let me be open and honest right now. You don’t “eat” coffee, Jacob. Ever. You drink it. And once you recognize this difference, I’m hopeful that you’ll never use “eat” in this context again.

…In order to grow as a person, one must learn from one’s mistakes.

Here are just a few of the facts: The term “eating” pertains to chewing solid matter in order to reduce it to a swallowable consistency. Drinking, on the other hand, requires no chewing whatsoever, as you’re consuming a liquid, and liquid can be immediately delivered to the stomach without chewing via peristalsis and gravity. Coffee, by all metrics, is a liquid, and as such, it follows that you would drink it, not eat it.

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I can see why this might be hard for you to understand, Jacob. After all, both eating and drinking require consuming a substance through an oral cavity, and each action facilitates the transfer of a substance to one’s stomach. The differences are small, but that doesn’t mean they’re insignificant—this isn’t a case of “You say potato, I say po-tah-to.” This is a case of two uniquely separate terms that must be treated as such, as doing otherwise strips them of their most valuable possession: their identity.

As a society, we have many challenges to overcome, and we’d be foolish to think that we can fix every problem. But change can happen if we all take responsibility for ourselves. That means respecting the environment, treating each other as equals, and—yes—assigning the correct term to the act of ingesting coffee. It all adds up; it all makes a difference.

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So, when you’re having your morning coffee tomorrow—not just you, Jacob, but anyone else reading —please, be aware of what you’re doing. You’re drinking, not eating. And nothing can ever change that.