Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So how much coffee do YOU drink?


I remember the first time I tasted coffee. I was seven or eight and I asked my mom if I could have a sip of her morning cup. She was sitting at the kitchen table smoking a cigarette. She told me I could try it, but to be careful because it was hot! I remember thinking, “Wow! I’m going to drink coffeeeeeee!” There was something magical about having permission to drink coffee out of my mom’s cup and I was excited.

The rim had a heavy crimson lipstick smear on it. I rotated the cup so my experience wouldn’t be fouled by the offensive mouth-print with it’s distinctive and unpleasant flavor. I raised the cup up to my lips and prepared for what I anticipated would be one of the most wonderful experiences of my life! It HAD to be wonderful. I mean this stuff was sooooo good, that kids weren’t aloud to have it! Grown-ups horded this magical brown liquid all to themselves! I mean it obviously had to be better than hot chocolate, and what’s better than hot chocolate? Coffee had to be absolutely amazing – and I was about to get a sip. Even if it meant navigating around a foul lipstick smear.

I brought the cup up to my lips and instantly could smell the waxy-heady smell of the lipstick smear (which I despised beyond description). The coffee smelled intense and rich and was scented with the aroma of dairy. I imagined I was about to partake of something so sweet and wonderful that my mom would have to fight me to get back her cup. I took a giant sip; just in case this would be the one and only time I ever got this lucky! The coffee washed over my tongue stimulating my taste buds and filled my mouth. Instantly my eyes grew wide with horror as my brain searched for any sensation it could even remotely label as “sweet.” It was worse than medicine and was just absolutely BITTER!!!! I started swallowing while thinking to myself, “maybe it takes a minute?”

I swallowed all of it and instantly pulled a face so completely puckered that I probably wouldn’t have recognized myself had I been able to keep my eyes open and look into a mirror. FOUL! This beverage had nothing whatsoever to offer me. It’s amazing how quickly our brains make sense of the world. Truly fascinating in my opinion. Where just a moment ago I viewed all adults as the hoarders and deprivers of this magically delightful beverage, in the span of two seconds, my understanding was entirely transformed. They’re not depriving us kids, they’re protecting us from coffee!

I never drank liquid rust again until law school – but by then it was purely out of necessity. I didn’t actually develop a taste for coffee until I was in my late 20s. I was good for two cups in the morning and that would do me for the day. I never drank coffee after 11:00 AM. But now? More than a dozen years later coffee has ascended to the status of the only liquid as important as blood. And to be honest with you, I couldn’t even tell you how much blood I have in my coffee-stream at any given time. And because I needed a bigger jolt than even the largest cup could offer, I switched to espresso drinks. (Mostly because I don’t possesses sufficient upper body strength to carry around a three-gallon sized cup.)

Every morning I drink an Americano with an extra shot of espresso (bringing the total to three shots of espresso) I drink two or three of these a day. I just went out to lunch a couple days ago and had three espressos after lunch, each served in those tiny Barbie-doll cups. After the waiter
brought me a third cup, I realized the conversation had stopped and my three lunch mates were now staring at me slack-jawed watching me dump Splenda and cream into my little tiny cup.

Friend 1: “You like espresso. Huh?”

Me: “Love it actually.”

Friend 1: “You want me to see if they can bring you a regular sized cup full of that? I know the owner.”

Me: “Nah. I’m good. This’ll do.”

Friend 2: “You always drink three of those at a time?”

Me: “Usually, but in a large cup with some hot water. It’s called an Americano.”

Friend 1: “Doesn’t that much caffeine screw up your sleep?”

Me: “No. Not nearly as much as Ritalin.”

Friend 2: “Ritalin?”

Me: “Yeah. I was hooked on it real bad for several years. I was chewing 80 mg at a time. I’d go through a month’s prescription in about 6 days. I never slept.”

Friend 1: “Shut the F up – you’re making that up!”

Me: “No I’m not. It’s true. I wasn’t in rehab just for alcohol. My biggest problem was drugs – Ritalin mostly. Didn't you know that?”

Friend 3: “You probably shouldn’t be drinking all that coffee then. Right? I mean doesn’t that trigger your addiction? Aren’t you supposed to stay away from caffeine and shit like that?”

Me: “Probably, but it just isn’t a problem. It never affects my sleep. I think I screwed up my threshold for stimulants with all of the drugs. That’s why I drink so much coffee now.”

So what I’m wondering here is can you drink too much coffee? It doesn’t seem to bother me and I never have trouble sleeping, but I think I’m drinking too much just because I think I’m drinking too much. Minimum three shots of espresso a day. Sometimes as much as nine. Am I alone here with this habit or am I in good company? With all of the Starbucks opening up and emphasis on coffee beverages, are we all going overboard on caffein? What’s your daily coffee intake? Do tell!


Poet with a Day Job said...

OMG - I am cracking up so hard at this:

"I couldn’t even tell you how much blood I have in my coffee-stream at any given time."

and also at the conversation with your lunch mates: the nonchalance with which you say "yeah, I was addicted to ritalin" then GLORPed down the espresso just KILLED me.

It is possible to drink too much coffee though - it was in the Science Times once. This guy just had the sweats and lots of shaking - no problem with loss of sleep though. But, he was slowly being poisoned. He was drinking three venti coffees a day!

And D good news: espresso has a stronger FLAVOR, but far LESS caffeine than a regular cup of joe! It's true! Espresso roast is so dark, most of the big C has been leeched in the process. So, I would drink on soldier! I mean, I keep thinking I'll give up coffee (and sometimes I do) but what the hell besides it and cupcakes do I have left? Coffee On!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Dennis, that is a lot of coffee! I'm very sensitive to drugs, caffeine, it don't take much to work on me. I drink one cup in the morning, but if I have any after dinner, it usually affects my sleep, so I only drink it every now and then. I used to be a big tea drinker, but ended up switching over after I got married. It smelled so good first thing in the morning, and since my husband had it already made, how could I resist? I've actually been considering switching back to tea; it's much hotter -- boiling water. Our coffee pot doesn't brew hot enough. I end up nuking it every time. As for law school, I can understand how that could get you started on the caffeine. I really liked your story, too, the way we idolize things that "grown-ups" do when we're young. I do agree, too, that if you're thinking you might be drinking too much, you might be drinking too much. But really, what is too much? It's probably different for everyone. I'd say two is too much for me, as long as there's no Krispy Creme doughnut to go along with it. :)

Micah said...

Hehe, that's a funny story about how you first tried it. I remember my first coffee too. I drank it to be polite, but naaaasty!!

As for the amount of caffeine you drink, well everyone does have different level of tolerances, but dang that's a lot, lol. They should have something like the BAC but for caffeine. Like BCC-50... the point at which 50% of people die from caffeine overdose, haha.

I dunno, but I'll bet you are addicted to it. Just try stopping. ;) I'll give you a day tops before you start going into chemical withdrawls (headaches, cravings, maybe shakes and mood-swings).

I love a good double-shot of expresso (with maybe some whipped cream...), but I wouldn't want to HAVE to have anything. *shrugs*

Micah said...

Oh, I never answered. I drink between 2 and 5 shots of expresso a week.

emmie johnson said...

Hey! I am addicted to coffee but I love cold coffee more than the hot one. Loved reading this post. It is written in such a hilarious but marvelous manner. Good job.
You could also take a peep into my blog on friendship greeting cards for some beautiful e-greeting cards and friendly tips.

Dennis said...

M - I think you solved my problem. I swear I had no idea that espresso was wimpy on caffeine! No wonder I'm downing it like water! As I sit here typing this morning, I'm drinking my NEW morning beverage. It's a large cup of some regular coffee made from beans grown on the dark continent! They promised me it would curl the ends of my shoes! I just had no idea I was undercafinating myself with these misleading power drinks!!!!! As always, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Dennis said...

Robin - I totally understand the sensitivity thing. My wife is practically allergic to caffeine. If she gets any, she's up for days and gets very nasty. I like tea, but honestly, it's the caffeine I'm after. I think decaffeinated coffee is an oxymoron. I don't even know why it exits! Thanks for reading!

Dennis said...

Micah - I like your idea about some scale for measuring caffeine in your blood system. As far as missing a day? Forget it! I wouldn't even try. I already know you're right about that. I get a headache that could kill an elephant or at least bring it to its knees. I'm totally addicted to stimulants. Thanks for reading!

etain_lavena said...

goodness, I cant drink espresso at all, I once drank like a few sips and I had this buzzing feeling in my brain, but I cant even drink normal coffee, keeps me AWAKE....but I guess like everything in life practice makes perfect:)
Very nice post...I stumbled here via Poetry Thursday:)

DewyKnickers said...

We don't coffee, that's all that we would need. LOL

I posted for PT already, it's a really funny one today.



Dennis said...

I'm going to be out of town for a couple of days for depositions - I won't be able to post again until this weekend.

madd said...

Dennis...roflmao..oh my goodness you crack me up, I am so glad I stopped by for a visit..had a hellish day, cranky, hungry...you were just what I needed..a smile, well a good laugh really:) As for me coffee is a once a day thing..it must be dunkin donuts fine grind, one extra scoop for good measure and then Hazlenut coffeemate creamer.mmmmmm..I am in heaven or at least getting a sugar and caffine rush all at once and going into a buzz high..lol either way its my ymmy way to face the day..well one of the anyway..love ya..madd

Dennis said...

Madd! Love you too girl! Glad you got a chuckle - hope you didn't get rugburn rolling around on the floor! Keep commin back and I'll keep posting funnies.

Karen said...

Hi Dennis

Sorry I have to share some mind-numbing info!!! I'm a dietician and worked in private practise for about 4 years. And believe me, I've seen worse. I've had patients drinking anything between 17-24 cups (being 250 ml/8oz) per day. Add three teaspoons (1 tsp - 5ml) of sugar to that and you have a problem. Some of them drink Cola over and above the coffee. Whoa!!!

With regards to the amount of caffeine per Espresso, I can't say. I guess that will depend on the brand of coffee and the production process.

Caffeine per 1 cup (8oz) instant coffee = 85mg

Caffeine per 1 cup (8oz) brewed coffee = 130mg

(Please bear in mind these are South African values....guess it will be more or less the same world wide??)

Love, love, love your blog!


Poet with a Day Job said...

welcome back, now:

You've probably done this a thousand times before nevertheless, I tagged you! Come play if you feel like it!

Dennis said...

Karen - thanks for the visit, the read and the wonderful information! My fried Poet with a day job recently informed me that espresso is actually a strong flavored but weakly caffinated beverage (which seems to make sense to me). I've returned to full strength brewed dark coffee and I'm mu-mu-mu-mu-mu-much happier! Glad you like my blog!

Dennis said...

M - Thanks for tagging me! I left you a message on your blog. As soon as I dig out of this paper-shit storm (which seemed to drop about 2 feet of of the white stuff (mail) in my office I'll take a crack at it. The list is forming itself in my head as I type!

Angie said...

HA. Dennis. This is hilarious. My husband can take tons and tons of caffiene like you can. Unfortunately, I can't, and I love the smell of coffee, but even a tiny bit of it makes me nuts, turbo-Angie, much like that kitty. Even the amount in tiramisu! God I was pissed when I found that out. So, it's for weaklings like me that decaf coffee is made! I feel apologetic every time I order it.

Dennis said...

Angie - glad you liked the post and even happier to meet a friend of Poet With A Day Job! I think it could be cool to be super sensitive to caffeine - then you'd only need a little bit to get to the same place that takes me cup after cup after cup! I just don't understand decaf. That beverage mystifies me I put it right up there with Alcohol free beer.

Leah said...

What a funny, good post, Dennis! It really brought back my first coffee-drunk experience!

How much caffeine do I imbibe? My answer is: none. For two reasons. 1. After I got sober, it started acting exactly like amphetamines in my system. So, I had to adjust to feel sober at all. 2. Caffeine doesn't help you maintain and build bone mass, which I desperately need to do.

Quitting was hard. Yerba matte helped, and was easier to wean off of in the end.

Dennis said...

Leah - your comments were very interesting and got me thinking. I was addicted to amphetamines and coffee does give me a bit of the old rush, but I don't find that it "gets me activated". In other words, I don't go spinning off looking for a bigger high and I don't get into my old behaviors. I wonder if ultimately I shouldn't even be drinking it? Thanks for stopping by!

Clockworkchris said...

Loved this. I have drunk all types of caffeine, usually soda and now coffee, since I was about 5 years old. It never did anything to me. Then after and during college I used to do coke the way you did ritilin-a months supply in a few days. Thousands of dollars a month down the drain and even then, I could just take a few klopopin with benedryll and rum and I was out. Then I woke up the next day even with 2 hours of sleep and functioned perfectly normal. Nice to know people like us can change. Now I know why uppers don't work on me at all, yet the side effect for me in the long run was being hyper always-hence the mania and inability to know when I am saying very innapropriate things, like now. Life is so much fun! :)

Dennis said...

Chris - Welcome back from hell! I know all about it. For me the spiritual journey seems to hold all of the answers I'm looking for. Unfortunately, most of the people in my life don't get it and it leaves me feeling like a stranger in my own family. Like just now, I just got off the phone with my wife. We were arguing about money. She can never get enough of it and I could care less about it. And therefore its always a problem.

Anonymous said...

do you drink too much coffee? only you can tell. as long as you can go into a toilet without a cup of coffee in your hands & stuff, you're just addicted to coffee, and the cause does not matter. do you feel bad because of how much you drink or do others look upon your coffee craving with a lifted eyebrow and that is what makes you wonder?
my "username" in livejournal is "kafija" which (in latvian) means "coffee". i am not just addicted to coffee. i am addicted to life. but coffee...coffee i Love.
anyway - drink good coffee and enjoy it. quantity is not something you should worry about, unless you must.

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