Coffee and Such

I’m torn about my coffee.

I might be getting addicted.

This morning I woke up at 7, and could not keep my eyes open. I stayed in bed another 45 minutes. Got up, showered, and then was still almost asleep. I sat at the couch, staring at my cup of coffee. It is delicious. I started sipping it slowly, and within minutes I felt fine and ready to go. Made bacon for breakfast, and turned on the pre-debate show on CNN. The pre-interviews were fluff, but when Martha Raddatz started the first question with “wasn’t it a massive intelligence failure?” it suddenly became riveting. So much so, that I neglected to water the plants and headed off to work a bit late.

I used to be a morning person. I would wake up, do reading, writing, read the news, go on a run, feel energized and happy about the day. Now I wake up every morning feeling awful, wanting to stay in bed for hours longer. I’ve been going to bed at 10, waking up at 7:30, tired. But after a single cup of coffee I’m ready to go. I think the coffee everyday is making me dependent on caffeine.

I want to try stopping the caffeine… but I like it. I like coffee, I like tea. It tastes so good. Just darkly roasted and brewed in the french press, with a splash of milk.

Strolling into Starbucks and buying a chai latte has become my comfort food. When I lived in Turkey, my friend and I would walk down to the Starbucks, have our coffee/tea and then go up the escalator to the grocery store: a weekly shopping trip and coffee break. Whenever we needed a break we would have chai lattes; after the gym, after walking around Tunus Caddesi, before work, after the stressful trip to the bank we would sit in a Starbucks and drink our comfort food. Now it is all I want when I need to take a breath and calm myself. That and coffee.

I feel I should stop. So I can wake up feeling alert and sharp. But I don’t want to, because I enjoy it so much. Am I addicted to it? There it is, freshly brewed, splash of milk on my nightstand. Why would I resist? Maybe cutting down slowly would help, that or a nice injection to get me out of bed.

Coffee is an interesting beverage. It alters the mind. It was hotly debated in Muslim theology long ago; in mainland China it can represent modernization or westernization depending on your perspective; it is an intensely difficult and precise process roast the beans; it requires a certain time commitment in daily preparation.

Unless you like nescafe (in which case you are a silly person) coffee is a ritual. You either spend the time making it at home, or you go to your local cafe and say good morning to your barista and drink your daily dose. It can give you a grounded task in the morning, it can cost large sums of money, and it can forge bonds between friends. And it is delicious.

To me, it is also a symbol of academic thought. In elementary school, my writing teacher Ms. Collins held a “coffee house” for us and our parents to present our writing and discuss intellectual things. I did not drink the coffee, but the smell stuck with me. Ms. Collins represented a challenging intellect, and coffee represented the beverage of choice. To this day I associate the smell of coffee with literary conversations.

I later tried to drink lattes in the Austin airport with my family: I would order an iced latte at age 9, and pour in 6 packets of sugar. I clearly loved it. I just wanted to be cool and intelligent. My brother said, “do you want any coffee with your sugar?” I pouted.

Now I take it with a splash of milk, but I also like black coffee from time to time, and lattes and cappuccinos and espresso, and Arabic/Turkish coffee (depending on your country of origin). Damascus used to have the best coffee, because they put cardamom in with the grounds. Just a hint of the spice makes a difference. Arabic coffee is strong, small and concise, but I think New York has the strongest brews.

My fascination with coffee is long lived, and certainly did not arise from dating a coffee drinker. And I am clearly not alone: But I still blame said coffee drinker for my current predicament. Maybe it’s a trap. Trying to make me need coffee so I’ll make it every morning no matter what. Well, it’s not working. I will stay in bed in protest! Protest and sleepiness…

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