Pour Me Another

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We all have our vices, from the very boring to the downright obscure. And like any person who shares glimpses into their life via social media, I air the socially acceptable ones and leave out the less desirable habits (looking at you 90 Day Fiancé binges). I wish I could tell you my greatest vice is crystal-infused water or fancy açai bowls or an hour of meditation at daybreak, but that is not me (not right now at least). Like so many others, my greatest vice is coffee.

I love it. I love the taste, the ritual, the sociability, but I don’t give too much thought to the aftereffects. Despite my daily habit, I don’t feel beholden to caffeine. I’m not the kind of person who needs that first cup in the morning to get going and I never get the shakes if I imbibe in an extra cup. I’ve even bragged that I can drink coffee after a late dinner and have no problem winding down for bed. It’s gotten me through some pretty horrendous work days and has been a main feature at every leisurely brunch. To say anything less than loving about coffee would feel like a betrayal of a dear and loyal friend.

But if I have to honestly reflect on my relationship with good ol’ joe there are some downsides to my vice. On occasion I’ll skip coffee entirely only to be confronted with a nauseating withdrawal headache, a telltale (and very hard to ignore) sign of my secret dependence on coffee. Or then there are the instances when I want just one more cup and land myself with a deeply troubled belly. And these are just the things I’m aware of, so it begs the question, what is coffee really doing for me?

I’m generally not a great sleeper. Some days that mid-afternoon slump hits hard. There have been times I’ve been late to work because I just really needed to get that coffee. Admittedly these are things I try to avoid thinking about; not just because it would mean demonizing my beloved java, but in a greater sense it’s the acknowledgement that I’ve sacrificed some of my own health and wellbeing for a habit. Intentionally setting myself up for dependence on anything, let alone something that may be messing with my belly, my sleep, or my routine is certainly not what I’m about. Giving up any amount of my own personal power to a bean seems simply silly.

Yet, here I am, drinking a cuppa the good stuff even now. Like any habit, coffee is a hard one to quit, especially because it’s so universally accepted and loved. I’ve also come to understand that it’s a habit I would like to keep. But the only way coffee and I can carry on this love affair is with mindful intentions, and clear boundaries.

Water first. And during. And after. Really, water all the time! While there is some misconception about the severity of the diuretic effect of caffeine, what I care about more is that it is never in lieu of good old fashioned water. Or lemon water. Or infused water. Or sparking water. Coffee can do a lot, from making Mondays manageable to bringing people together to allowing for inter-dimensional travel, but quenching a thirst is not its strong suit, leave that to H2O.

Keep it simple. My first dabbling with coffee was a Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Coolatta — with whip, of course! Since then I’ve gradually scaled back to much more restrained orders; hot coffee with cream, cafe au lait, black cold brew. I’ve come to appreciate coffee more for the flavors and experiences it offers on its own rather than slathering it in shots of syrup and empty calories.

Less is more. Despite our ups and downs, I will always love coffee and I’m okay with my daily habit. But there’s always an opportunity to reduce. I probably don’t need a venti, and certainly won’t feel my best 20 ounces deep. And I know there are alternatives that serve me just as well, if not better than, coffee. When I objectively think about it, I enjoy kombucha and it makes me feel good. I enjoy seltzer and it makes me feel good.

And lately I’ve really been enjoying mornings with a Matcha Mint Fizz. It perks me up, packs in antioxidants, and keeps things interesting so I don’t miss an extra serving of coffee. And it makes me feel really good.

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