In my life I have participated in most of the legal substance-abuse vices, with the exception of tobacco. I’ve been around smokers frequently, but I’ve not been interested in smoking. Some other time I might address the abuse of sugar, salt, and oils, but today I want to write about coffee.

My parents had the habit of drinking a cup of coffee with each meal–breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They drank it black–no sugar, no milk or cream. As a child, I didn’t like the smell of coffee and didn’t want to drink coffee. Even when I went to college, coffee held no appeal for me.

That changed my last year of college. I took a course in art history which met three afternoons a week, right after lunch. The professor turned off the lights and showed slides of paintings and sculptures on the wall. He had a quiet, monotone voice. His quizzes were very difficult. To keep awake in class, I started drinking coffee with my lunch those three days of the week.

By the time I started graduate school, I was in the habit of drinking coffee every day. During my internship, I even learned to drink Cuban espresso, which absolutely requires a lot of sugar because it is so bitter. Also during my internship, I learned that drinking a cup of coffee during Wednesday night Bible class was a bad idea. I was often awake for hours after Bible class, until I learned to stop drinking coffee that late in the day.

When I graduated and started working a steady job, I had one day off each week. After a couple of months, I began to wonder why I always had a headache by lunchtime on my day off. I finally realized that my headache was a symptom of caffeine withdrawal. Rather than giving up on coffee the other six days of the week, I started drinking coffee on my day off as well, and the headaches went away.

My habit became two cups of coffee a day: one with breakfast and the other with lunch. Most of the time I drink it black. On hot summer days, I sometimes prepare a cup of iced coffee, which includes sugar. On some winter days, I treat myself to a mocha, stirring a package of hot chocolate mix into a cup of coffee. I always fix my coffee at home, because I do not want to pay the coffee shop prices to soothe my addiction. I have been careful not to have coffee in the mid-afternoon or evening, because I want to be able to sleep at night.

This was not a scientific study with proper controls, but I have played video games while mildly intoxicated with alcohol, and I have played the same games while “buzzed” with caffeine. In matters of coordination and in matters of judgment, I found that caffeine created more problems for me than alcohol.

Over the years, I have given up alcohol for Lent, and I have given up caffeine for Lent. I found caffeine to be the harder substance from which to fast. Withdrawal symptoms, the desire for a drink, and the rush to return to the substance when Easter arrived all were stronger for coffee than for alcoholic beverages.

My doctor suggested that I cut my coffee drinking in half to help control my blood pressure. At first I resisted his advice, but after I was diagnosed with anxiety, I was willing to cut back to one cup a day. I still drink a mug of coffee after breakfast before I leave for work.

Some web sites list the dangers of caffeine, while others insist that caffeine is safe except in extremely high doses. Some mornings I savor my cup of coffee, while other mornings I worry about my addiction to caffeine. I sympathize with people who struggle with addictions, because I know how powerful my own addiction is in my life. J.

11 thoughts on “Coffee

  1. I’ve never acquired the taste and I cannot handle caffeine at all. I am the only person in my house who doesn’t drink coffee.
    So, especially in the mornings, I’m like the sober person at the drinking party, observing everyone’s substance-influenced behavior from the outside. I have learned to refrain from speaking to people until they’ve had their coffee. (My head’s just as unclear when I get up as it is at noon.) They each have their own specific preferences about how their coffee is made and how long the coffee can sit before new coffee must be made. For some this is about ten minutes, so we probably throw away as much coffee as we use. Running out of coffee is an unthinkable disaster, so we are always well supplied in advance. Sometimes it’s like there’s a Coffee Cult and I don’t believe.
    It’s fun being an observer. And I have my vices too.

    Oh! The art history classes in the afternoons! Coffee would have helped there. Yes, wait til your students are just starting to crash from their soda-fueled, vending machine- carb-laden lunches, turn off the lights, ask them to focus on still pictures, and speak in a droning monotone. It’s a wonder I learned any art history at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m willing to warm old coffee in the microwave. I hate to throw away food unless it has visible mold. (Yes, I have seen visible mold in three-day-old coffee.) I like your images of the designated non-drinker and observing the Coffee Cult. J.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I live with tea drinkers. I enjoy an occasional cup of tea, and there’s little enough caffeine in tea that I can have a cup after supper and still go to bed at the usual time. That’s probably why I don’t bother to start the day with tea. J.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I gave up caffeine once for about two months. I enjoyed not being so crabby and foggy headed in the morning before my fix, but the benefits for me outweighed the risks so I went back to it. There’s been a lot of research coming out on caffeine showing it has anti oxidant and anti cancer properties. My problem is all the half and half I mix it with!

    Happy morning to you Salvageable. šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do applaud your candor S.

    Lots of truth everywhere. A lady is asked how she lives to be a hundred, she sez, daily coffee. Others say its the devil’s poison. My take?

    Let every man be persuaded in his own mind. It’s probably not a good idea to be captive to anything, but I’ll take a coffee drinking old praying grandmother in a wheelchair over the knowitall young Christian who does not know the difference between Genesis and Revolution…every time. šŸ˜‰

    The grace and liberty of God are excellent tools for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes… the balance of Christian freedom and “not all things are beneficial.” The dangers of coffee are small compared to other substances that people abuse, but I prefer not to ignore them. J.


  4. Have you tried substituting your regular coffee with decaf? If you slowly introduce this, maybe you’ll still enjoy your coffee moments without experiencing the negative side effects of consuming too much caffeine. Don’t swap to decaf in one go though, but maybe increasing your decaf moments on a regular basis can help you switch?

    Liked by 2 people

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