Quiting Coffee: Broaching a black hole

Health Uncategorized

A writer goes through the harrowing experience of giving up coffee…

Day 0. My last cup, I savour every inky drop. Oh, black ocean of possibility with your bobbing boats of inspiration. That’s good, write that down. Feature
idea: read the 10 great novels of the 20th Century and write about them: Ulysses, In Search of Lost Time, Clan of the Cave Bear.

Factoid: Coffee was discovered by goats. True story. According to legend, an Abyssinian goat-herder saw his herd acting frisky after they’d eaten red
cherries from a shrub. He tasted the fruit and was later spotted dancing with his goats. When challenged by local monks he said only “A man gets lonely.”
Movie idea: Dances With Goats?

Day 1. Green tea to start the day. They tell me that tea has caffeine too. Where is it? The literature tells me that when caffeine intake is reduced, blood
pressure drops causing the infamous withdrawal headache. Apparently, the headache can last up to five days and can be alleviated with analgesics and with
caffeine. Well duh. The withdrawal subject may also become nervous, irritable, restless, lazy, dopey, sleepy, and grumpy. In technical terms, these are known
as the seven dwarfs of caffeine withdrawal. In my case, the seven dwarfs have been joined by dizzy, cranky, punchy, stabby and light-sensitivity.

Day 2. A tad cranky. Some tea makes me feel better. Housemates say nine cups is cheating. Things get out of hand, tea everywhere. To do: Buy housemates
flowers. Headache persists, a dull stabbing in frontal lobe accompanied by desire to stab. Normal? Doc says yes, and that in two weeks I’ll be able to
replace the effect of caffeine with a short run. Suspect he’s in the pocket of the jogging industry. Idea: get a new doctor. My neighbour plays his stereo all
day. One of those hipster chumps who’s into Arcade Fire and dressing like a pirate. Mag idea: Hipstersexuals—just-too-gay-enough?

Idea: Read only five great novels. Started reading Proust’s In Search of lost Time, or, as it’s called in French, Ou Est La Femme de Chambre.

Day 3: Feeling bad. Two pots of green tea and I’m leaking like a Russian sub. Housemates confiscate my teapot. Also find reserve-teapot. More screaming. They
catch me sucking the juice out of tealeaves. Have to drag me off. Very embarrassing. Synapses no longer firing. Idea: Can’t remember. Return to bed. Ah
sleep; black ocean of possibility with your … boats …

Factoid: seven million tons of beans are produced worldwide, annually. Most of it is hand picked. By monkeys. (Note: check this fact.)

Day 4: Feeling the hate. Told taxi driver that the reason so many immigrants come here is to ruin his day. Caffeinated lip-balm confiscated by housemates.
Threw In Search of Lost Time out window. Note: call glazier.

Factoid: Originally, coffee was a food. True fact. East African tribes would grind coffee cherries together and create a paste with animal fat. Rolled into
little balls, the mixture was said to give warriors energy for battle. Hell yes! The Ethiopians later concocted a type of wine from coffee berries. Sounds
nice. Feature idea: History of coffee? Great coffee drinkers? Oh God.

Day 5: Hate. Pain. All will pay. Idea: torture not so bad. Idea: See indie-boy about his stereo. Kill him. TV idea: Celebrity Island. Take celebrities—
Burrell, Jordan, Palmer-Tomkinson, et al—to a desert island. Leave. Never go back. TV idea: Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook, Nob Off.

Oh God, I miss coffee. The ritual, the equipment. Coffee has a saucy nomenclature: crema, macchiato, extraction. Alcohol is just pornographic: Shooter,
jigger. Cocktail. Coming off coffee is actually similar to being a binge drinker but with none of the glorious amnesia. I remember haranguing taxi drivers
and hapless cinema attendants with a frightening clarity. I remember calling my housemate a “Trout sucking mange-troll.” I’m a monster. The recovering coffee
drinker wakes up with the hangover and the memories.

Day 6: Feel a little better. Headache faded. Will to homicide diminished. Feel sad. Morning in bed. Housemates bring me soup. TV idea: Take a normal family
and make them live in the conditions of the great depression. “Depression House?”

Finished a history of coffee. Coffee is one of the world’s most vital primary commodities. Six-and-a-half million tons of coffee were produced in 2000, and
seven million are expected annually by 2010. The collapse of the International Coffee Agreement led to a pricing crisis from 2001 to 2004 during which many
coffee farmers lost their livelihoods, or turned to illicit crops such as cocoa.

That was just a pricing issue. Imagine the global impact if the coffee industry collapsed. Productivity would plummet, violent crime would rocket, and
fragile workers, deprived of their breakfast lattes, would turn to crack. Armies would wage war over dwindling stocks leading to mass slaughter, headaches,
irritability and the apocalypse.

This is critical. We may already have reached peak-coffee. Have decided that, sadly, I must resume drinking coffee. Immediately. Not for pleasure, you see,
but for the economy. Sat housemates down and told them. They didn’t react too badly. They just stood without a word and left the room.

Day 7: My First cup! Like a re-birthing. Oh hot black wave of pleasure welling like a slop of warm bathwater from within. Oh cascade of burning sparks
redolent with possibility. TV idea: Women vie for the hand of a millionaire. Eventually, they learn that the man has a degenerative illness and will require
lifetime of care. Also, he has no money. Delicious.