I never liked coffee. The only time I used to drink it was at Uni during the few weeks of swotvac, and used purely to keep me awake while cramming for the ludicrous number of Mech Eng exams we had. Even then it was only nasty cheap instant coffee which I used to wash down a No-Doze caffeine tablet. The rest of the year I didn’t touch the stuff.
When I left Uni to galavant around the world, I worked for 6 months in an awesome little coffee shop called Bean Bros in Kerrisdale, Vancouver. The owner Larry used to roast his own beans and it thrived despite a tiny vege store separating us from a Starbucks. (This was in 1996 when Starbucks was growing into the behemoth that it became). With so many varieties available, if I was ever to take up drinking the dark brew, this would be the perfect opportunity. So I began to start my day with a coffee. This then manifested into a several a day event where I began to appreciate the intricate differences between beans.
It got to the point where I would test samples of freshly roasted beans and give feedback. Once I told Larry that there was something wrong with his latest batch. Given the price of beans and my relative newbieness to coffee world, his immediate response was to ignore me. However after we taste tested several samples from the batch he acknowledged the bitterness and threw away several hundred dollars of beans, but not without glaring at me for being so chuffed at making the find!
When I left there with my newfound awesome barista skills to discover Europe (yes that’s right I was the first human to find Europe and claim it as my own sovereign territory!) I didn’t really drink that much. Mostly just a cup every day or two just to sit back and enjoy the novelty of sipping a coffee in a small cafe in Italy or France.
When I got back to Brisbane I began drinking coffee again. A lot. I would get to work, walk up the road to Alberto’s Coffee Shop in Paddington and order 2x double strength flat whites. This ritual would be repeated every two hours. The owner Alberto was usually the front man to his own cafe and the combination of sensational customer service, great coffee and hiring pretty, extroverted girls was an instant winning combination. I worked out I was drinking on average about 33 cups of coffee a day! Reinforced with a couple of bottles of Jolt Cola “With Twice The Caffeine!” (But twice of what I always wondered?), I was pretty deep into caffeine addiction world.
This went on for about five years until one day my kungfu teacher told me that I should stop it to improve my health and training. Instead of weaning myself off it I just stopped. For the next week everyone in the office tip-toed around me, profits at the coffee shop plummeted and I was generally one cranky bastard.
Strangely soon after giving it up my insomnia got worse, go figure! After a while my caffeine tolerance diminished to the point where even one cup of coffee in the morning would keep me up all night. At most I allowed myself the occasional swiss water decaf as a treat perhaps one or twice a year.
At the start of 2012 I decided to start drinking regular coffee again after a 10+ years hiatus. And it is good. I have since bought a moka pot and brew my own cup every day. I can feel the demon inside me wanting to rise up but so far I have contained it to one cup (albiet a super strong brew) per diem.
Note: I was reminded of how bad my coffee addiction was when a few weeks ago I was standing at the counter of the electrical store and I felt a tap on my shoulder and someone said, “Hi”. It took a few seconds for the cloud of confusion to clear before I realised it was Alberto, the owner of the aforementioned coffee shop. He had recognised me more than 10 years later! I’m going to take that experience more as a testament to his customer service than to my coffee junkieness.