On My Daily Caffeine Intake

I am nothing without my morning coffee.

I started drinking coffee at an early age. I must have been ten. It would be served after church services, and I would help myself to the coffee. Everyone — every adult, anyway — drank it. So why couldn’t I?

I drank coffee irregularly. It wasn’t until 1996 — the Charlottesville year — that I began drinking coffee on a regular basis. There was a Barnes & Noble at Barracks Road, and it had a Starbucks, and there was a cute redheaded barrista named Sally. I was twenty-two.

Tea, hot tea that is, did nothing for me.

Iced tea was fine. But brewing a cup of tea? No interest. It seemed like too much trouble.

And anyway, I loved coffee. I loved its blackness and its bitterness. I would "dope" the coffee with two sugars and a dollop of milk.

And yes, on occasion, when I’d go out I’d get an Irish Coffee. Because, frankly, that’s good stuff. Wasn’t it Larry Niven who said that Irish Coffee was the perfect drink for the creative because the caffeine kept you awake and the alcohol relaxed the mind? I have my own variation on an Irish Coffee; it happens to be easier to make. ;)

I don’t know precisely when I began drinking coffee as part of my daily routine. I’ll say that it was probably after college, as likely as not circa 2001, when I was promoted to a store manager with EB Games in Pennsylvania.

After I moved to North Carolina, coffee was definitely part of the daily routine; every morning I’d stop at Panera Bread and buy a coffee — and occasionally a bagel. Suddenly I’m nostalgic for a Panera cinnamon raisin bagel — oh, they are so good…

And then I bought a coffee pot for the store. I realized that it would be cheaper to brew my own coffee instead of going out every morning to buy coffee.

And then…

Then I started brewing tea in the coffee pot. But not any tea. I’d brew mint tea in it. I went to BJ’s, I bought a box of mint tea bags, and sometimes when I didn’t feel like coffee I’d brew a pot of mint tea, putting three or four of the teabags in the coffee grounds basket.

It was an awesome coffee pot. It was a Mr. Coffee, and it had an LED analog clockface on its front. My grandmother dismantled that coffee pot one day — I have no idea what she did or how she did it — and it never worked again.

I’ve scaled back my coffee intake. I had to — one day, not long after I started my current job, I was so wired from coffee that I could barely function. At my absolute worst, I was drinking up to two pots of coffee a day. Now, I drink two 16oz mugs of coffee in the morning before I leave for the office. And when I get to the office, I drink tea.

I have teabags and I’ll brew a cup of tea between 10 and 10:30. Then, around lunchtime I’ll have a Peace Iced Tea; I’m particular fond of the new "Caddy Shack" Tea/Lemonade flavor.

Then I won’t touch anything caffeinated after about six o’clock.

See, once upon a time, I could stop at Starbucks after nine o’clock at night and order something toxic and caffeinated. I could consume it, I could go home, and I could fall fast asleep.

Then I turned thirty. My body just didn’t work like that any longer.

I can’t imagine giving up coffee or tea, not completely. Coffee gets the day going, tea keeps it level.

This works for me. :)

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