I’m not addicted, I just like the taste. Familiar? I caught myself saying that to someone the other day whilst endeavouring to justify my need for “One large black Americano to go, please”. This coffee habit (only one per day I hasten to add) was (is) costing me close to £3 a day – not much compared to smoking or alcohol you could say, although it is still £84+ a month.
Furthermore coffee was the newest addition to my list of caffeine offenses. It all started with tea: an innocent brew, a mild beverage, a national symbol. I was pressured into it by the soft power of British culture and a family who have pride in the tea drinking tradition. I, as with many 6 year olds, was not much a fan of the seemingly bitter taste – same as a future alcoholic taking their first sip of beer perhaps. I added half a mug of milk and seven sugars at first. That seemed to do the trick. As with chocolate only a small amount of actual caffeine is needed. Milk (or cream) and sugar does the rest.
However it was definitely the caffeine that got me hooked. It wasn’t long until I was on just a dash of milk with my builders tea. As I grew older and the stresses of life loomed Diet Coke took over. I was still drinking tea, and lots of it, but to fuel me through my GCSEs I was having up to 6 cans of Diet Coke a day – my most expensive phase. Normal Coke would not do; that was just sugar and wouldn’t give me the same kick. A levels came and with it the need for more energy and motivation. Caffeine was of course the answer. This time in the form of espresso shots (or more accurately Nescafe paste); and of course I was still drinking tea and a fair amount of Diet Coke.
I could blame the educational system, Western culture or the fast pace of London life for this escalating ‘problem’. Caffeine is my drug: tea is my gateway, Diet Coke my own coke and coffee my heroin. And I’m hooked, totally and completely. I only lasted 1 week (and a day) giving up caffeine for lent this year, having to succumb to my daily long black coffee. All of the above are to blame in part, but like all other addictions I have to accept that it is ultimately my fault. I have let caffeine ruin my levels of self control. While society may have made the pole greasy, I willingly jumped off the platform and slid down that pole by myself. I could have chosen yoga to calm me instead of tea etc, but instead I headed for Starbucks.
So I am a caffeine addict, that much is clear. Now the question is how bad is that, really? I do not smoke or do illegal drugs. I do not harm others as I glug a cuppa or while buzzing off espresso and I get things done. Surely everyone must have a vice; at least mine is legal and productive. I’m more than happy to take the blame for this habit and I am almost proud that my dependency is so petty.