“Caffeine isn’t a drug, it’s a vitamin!” ~Author Unknown
Addiction can be defined as the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice. Coffee, “I’m a slave for you” (sang in my best Britney Spears impression). I’m addicted to coffee and I’m not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee a day which means there are other addicts out there.
High School served as my introduction to the coffee world. After class, the so-called cool people went to the Starbucks at the “The Village”, a nearby shopping center. I was not a coffee drinker but was peer pressured into going. “Just try it. You’ll love it”, my classmates said. We walked into Starbucks and my nose filled with the aroma of roasted beans. This impressionable teen was no match for the coffee giant and its 170,000 drink combinations. A venti Mocha Frappuccino became my gateway drink and then a grande Caramel Macchiato mixed with two packets of sugar in raw got me hooked. Barista another hit!
It wasn’t until after college that my dependency on coffee grew. I worked as a production assistant for a morning television show and my shift started at 4:30am. Each morning I downed at least half a pot of coffee to function. The caffeine kick kept me awake while rolling prompter for two hours. Trust me, watching words scroll down a screen for that long would make anyone tired. By the time 12:30pm rolled around, my body craved another jolt of java. Over time I developed a dark roast drinking problem.
Eventually, I moved to the dayshift, weaned off coffee and switched to green tea mixed with steamed soymilk. My caffeine intake was limited to social settings such as meeting friends at a coffee shop. But then a family trip to Brazil caused a relapse.
Just in case you didn’t know, Brazil is by far the world’s largest producer of coffee which makes it the “El Chapo Guzmán” of the business. As we headed to breakfast in Rio De Janeiro, my father warned, “The coffee is stronger here. You don’t need to drink as much,” I ordered the café com liete, coffee with milk. The waiter brought my cup, not a grande or a venti but a “real cup”. “This is it?” I thought while taking a sip. The sweet, intense flavor hit me. It was so good! I quickly finished the first cup and ordered another. Uma café, por favor! The cups of caffeine continued. About an hour later, the shakes kicked in and coffee was back in my life.
The jury is still out on the health effects of coffee. One study found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in certain people. Other studies show that coffee may protect against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. Doctors also found that heavy caffeine use, four to seven cups of coffee a day, can cause restlessness, anxiety, irritability and sleeplessness. The medical consensus regards caffeine as less of an addiction and more of a physical dependence. All I know is that I need my coffee fix. It’s a dependency that may just kill me. If it does, before you bury me please check my pulse and make sure it’s not just a coffee coma.