Breaking the Habit: A Caffeine Recession, Self Imposed

Here at Manhattan Roasts we have our taste buds spread across the globe.  While we are committed to bringing you almost daily updates of the coffee scene in Manhattan, we don’t want to limit ourselves to information exciting only for those in this great city.  In that vein we will feature guest authors who will bring you up to speed on the coffee scene around the world.

Today’s article comes from “Foodie Abroad”, a self described food-a-holic currently residing in Barcelona.  However, unlike most self-described foodies, she actually has multiple degrees in the area to prove it.  With that said, we give you:

Breaking the habit: a caffeine recession, self imposed

I am a person who has a habit of getting into habits. However, usually I fall out of habits as easily as I fall into them. Predisposed as I am to generalisations, I will suggest that these routines tend to revolve around food and the morning. Last year, for example, I would only eat oatmeal with ground flax seeds for breakfast, then it was plain yogurt with a diced Granny Smith apple, muesli and honey.

I also have a habit of getting up early. I love mornings so this habit has stuck. At this stage in my life (single, young professional living in Barcelona), mornings are calm and quiet, which means they are a direct contrast to the rest of my life. I think my waking up early is linked to a subconscious understanding that the tranquility of morning is not a given, but rather, a fleeting luxury.

I remember waking up early as a child and listening to the sounds of my parents’ morning routine: the part that excluded us. Most people I know have expressed similar memories and a shared fondness for that fuzzy state of dream mixed with faded listening, hushed voices and denial of what looms ahead. What stands out the most for me from this time is the sound of the coffee grinder … and the smell.

I am not sure if there is a correlation, but I grew into a coffee drinker, in a serious way. By 15, I had developed a taste for black bitter burnt cafeteria coffee and secretly still enjoy a cup or two, every once in a while, especially on road trips. Call it nostalgia. I was voted most caffeine dependent person in high school and spent summers working in an Italian-style coffee shop learning about real macchiatos… Thank you Starbucks for confusing millions of coffee drinkers worldwide… I even travel with an Italian-made stove top espresso maker (just in case).

I drink my coffee in a very specific way. Regardless of the size of the vessel, I wrap both hands around the cup, thumbs linked, elbows hugged tight to my body, forearms erect as if in prayer, the edge of the cup often resting in the grove between my lower lip and chin between sips (usually in front of my computer). I assume I picked up this habit attempting to keep my hands warm.  I figure that this must be a drinking position shared by many Canadians and fellow cold-weather folk.

All this is to say that I have a coffee habit, some would call it an addiction but I prefer “habit.” Also, if my morning breakfast habits didn’t tip you off, I like healthy foods and I do my best to eat well. I am aware of the evidence highlighting the negative impacts of caffeine consumption and I seek out reports that elucidate the benefits. Perhaps more importantly, I am conscious of the impact that caffeine has on my body. When I drink too much, I tend to crash and burn. I get the jitters. And when I stop, or am deprived, I experience symptoms associated with withdrawal.  As a result, I try to quit coffee every four months. After the headaches subside and I am confident that I have kicked the habit, I go back.  I go back not because I need the caffeine but because I love coffee. It is a morning habit that I am not willing to part with. It plays a fundamental role in early morning bliss.

Stay tuned for Monday’s part 2 on Foodie Abroad’s “Decaf,” which will discuss the process and taste profiles of decaffeinated coffee.

5 comments to Breaking the Habit: A Caffeine Recession, Self Imposed

  • I love coffee too – in fact I just put some on. Soon my coffee maker will be making that distinct sound, the one that tells me the coffee is all but done and ready for me. At not quite 7:30 a.m., it is early for me, I am not a “morning person.” But coffee is an all day drink and I drink it all day.

    I’m trying to cut back, but I don’t really want to.

    Tanya sent me,


  • mw

    I’m happily addicted to coffee and have come up with many health benefits for my addiction, most of the delusional but all of them plausible as long as I’m flying high on caffeine. I loved the description of how you drink coffee, though it sounds a bit tense compared to my long swooping edge of the cup sloshing flight of my enormous pottery barn mug as I bring it to my lips.

    Coffee is life…

  • I love coffee as well and always look forward to that time to have any, even if us English are supposed to be tea drinkers.

    NetChick sent me here.

  • I too am a coffee lover. Just black for me. Good and strong. I hate when you have a wonderful meal at a rearaunt and then they serve you weak coffee. In my younger days the caffine did not affect me. Now, I limit my intake to a cup or 2 in the morning, and the same after dinner. NetChick sent me.

  • The foodie left at home

    I too love coffee for the flavour and the ritual, but I’ve never really had the coffee shakes, or the incompetent-til-coffee syndrome, and only one or two withdrawal-related headaches (it might have been something else . . . ) Even if I’m not physically addicted, I can’t watch someone else have a coffee without wanting one. I’m actually like that about a lot of things.

    I’ve thought about switching to decaf and never stuck with it because finding good decaf is fraught with challenges and irritations . . . and when it comes down to it I never want to be that vice-free puritan who requests decaf and, worse still, then goes on to inquire about which processing methods have been used. In general, I cherish even my smallest vices as elemental character traits.

    Dear Foodie Abroad, do you really look forward to a life of de-caffeinated hot beverages? Won’t you miss the rebellion of a morning cup of completely superfluous luxury? . . . Not a little?

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