How old were you when you had your first cup of coffee? Did you sip for practical reasons, curiosity, or maybe just because all of your friends were doing it? Do you even remember such a trivial detail? Believe it or not I only had my first cup of coffee a few days ago. I finally see what all of the hype is about and, to be honest, can finally understand how people can bear to get fewer than 8 hours of shut eye each night. So, in this post, I would like to recap my coffee experience and pass along some information that I learned along the way that I hope can interest abstainers and regular indulgers alike.
- Americans, on average, drink 2.1 cups of coffee per day
- Up to 400 mg of coffee per day is considered safe for most adults (this is about 4 to 4.5 eight-ounce cups of coffee per day)
- There are two main types of coffee bean – Arabica (most popular in the US) and Robustica (which is more bitter and contains more caffeine)
- Brazil produces about a third of the world’s coffee
- Decaf coffee contains 94-98% less caffeine than regular coffee (and usually no more than 10 milligrams of caffeine in total per 8oz)
One day, I woke up and asked myself, why am I so tired? I regularly get 7 – 8 hours of sleep, I exercise, drink a cup of black tea every morning, but, without fail, I am usually struggling to focus after 8pm and can barely keep my eyes open past 9pm. Initially, I thought that caffeine was the problem and was disrupting my sleep. For this reason, I carried out a short experiment on myself and abstained from coffee for a whole month (more here). The experience left me feeling less alert but also less on the brink of exhaustion at the end of the day. At the conclusion of the experiment, I decided that the caffeine-free lifestyle was not benefiting me; I returned to one cup of tea a day.
I continued to be tired, but didn’t think to try coffee, because I never really considered it to be an option for myself. It was as if I had abstained for so long that I just internalized that coffee was great for other people but not for me. Because I could find no remedy to my perpetual lethargy, one otherwise-uneventful day, I brewed my very first cup of medium roast coffee with milk. I have always loved the smell of coffee and found the milky liquid to be oh-so pleasing to the palate. I was quite frankly surprised as I had so often heard others lament about the bitterness (perhaps I used enough milk to mask this). It was so good, I wanted a second cup immediately, but I exercised sufficient restraint.
Within the first hour, I noticed that my heartbeat had accelerated. Perhaps, this was out of anticipation and excitement, or it was a mild attack of tachycardia, which is not uncommon for a heavy (or for a newbie) coffee drinker. The rest of the day was glorious! I could not believe how much better I felt after coffee. I usually wake up feeling tired, get a tiny spike with a cup of tea, and then start to deteriorate in the mid-afternoon. However, with coffee I was alert all day and was energetic even at bedtime.
I woke up feeling mostly good, but I admit I was deeply disturbed by a dream I had. The nightmare was so grisly and morbid that I say without exaggeration that it would make for a distinctly creepy and jarring short story. All of my dreams were vivid that night, I can even recall the clothing, furniture, and other random details of these visions.
After I digested my horror dream, I was in good spirits and felt that the coffee from the day before was giving me residual energy. I completed my morning workout (a brisk walk) with gusto and made breakfast shortly thereafter. After eating, I decided to go for my second cup (first for this day). I again went for a medium roast and added milk (though less this time). It was still so good, Dear Reader, that I went online and ordered a pack of decaf so I could indulge in a second cup on some days with fear of getting caffeine jitters.
Again, I woke up in revulsion from a dream that was simply blood curdling. Seriously though, there was so much gory violence, I felt that I needed to psychoanalyze myself to figure out from where this internal terror was coming. Again, regardless, I continued the day in good spirits and brewed my new usual after breakfast.
Overall, I think that I can happily get on the coffee train. It makes sense to me now why some people do not mind afternoon meetings or actually look forward to nights out with friends. I seriously was too tired before to find the prospect of late-in-the-day activity to be anything more than a chore. I’m excited to see what my caffeine-filled lifestyle will bring. I am writing this during the COVID-19 lockdowns, which makes me more eager to see the re-opening of the economy (in a safe and timely manner), just so I can visit local cafes with new purpose and try my very first cup of Starbucks coffee. The possibilities are endless!
Also, as a P.S., about the dreams. Coffee has an ‘over-stimulating’ effect which makes you more likely to remember your dreams. This would suggest that I was having murderous dreams all along but didn’t remember them…. Either way, my dreams have returned to normal, so I won’t worry too much about this….