The Correct Dose of Caffeine

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After many years of drinking coffee in the morning I have passed the point of denial and can freely admit I am addicted.  The ironic thing is that I used to loathe the taste of coffee and only started drinking it to thaw out my hands after riding outside in sub zero temperatures in winter.  One thing led to another and now 20 years later it is the first thing I crave in the morning apart from another couple of hours sleep.

There is now a well established protocol which involves me blearily checking my watch as I try to surface from the depths of slumber at what I consider an ungodly hour, while the Coffee Fairy formerly known as Husband, cheerily bustles round the bedroom and asks if I  would like a cup of coffee.  This is generally met with an affirmative grunt unless it is before 6am in which case it is met with a groan.  There is an understanding that the Coffee Fairy does his job in return for certain favours which sounds rather exciting but normally means sending anything he has forgotten to the office or taking his road bike to be serviced.

This first shot of caffeine is completely necessary to turn on the lights in my befuddled brain and get the show on the road.  It is quite a small dose as it is always instant coffee with a splash of milk.  However, once the Coffee Fairy has fluttered off to the office, I have had breakfast and walked the dog, it is time to proceed to the main event.  Every weekday at 8.50am,  I drive to the local cafe and order myself a cafe con leche (long on coffee and short on milk), sit down with one of my closest friends and discuss our children, potential business opportunities, the state of the world and the length of our to do lists. This takes about an hour and we normally get through two coffees each.

This doesn’t seem like much, but two cafe con leches packs a mean punch and over time my body has come to expect it.  If for any reason we only have time for one coffee, the morning seems perfectly normal but I don’t seem to make much headway with my usually endless list of errands and I have noticed that everything from filling up with petrol to writing emails seems to take longer.  A two coffee morning, on the other hand, seems to fly by with me manically driving from errand to errand, talking 30% faster than I would normally and zipping round the supermarket in record time.

There have been mornings when for reasons seemingly beyond my control such as meeting another friend after my usual coffee stop, I have had three cafe con leches.  This unfortunately crosses the line of what my body is prepared to put up with.  On three spanish coffees, I am unable to stop talking, I drive everywhere over the speed limit and my whole body seems to hum.  The good side is that my kilometric to do list is normally taken care of by 11am.  The downside is that anyone ringing me up to arrange to come and fix the washing machine will get my entire life story and later I am unable to get to sleep until about 2am probably because my heart rate is double what it should be.

The opposite problem to too much, is too little.  These are the times when for whatever reason I don’t get my caffeine fix in the morning.  This does happen sometimes if Coffee Fairy is away or I am in London.  Life will appear to carry on as normal but by 3pm I start to get a pain behind my right eye and by 5pm my eye is twitching and I am in the throws of the headache from hell.  It is about this point at which I realise my foolish error but by then it is too late in the day to remedy the problem with a coffee so a large ibuprofen has to suffice.

Every so often I consider going on a detox and joining the ranks of sensible people who sip herbal teas and are probably fifty times healthier than I am, but frankly I enjoy the buzz that my coffee addiction gives me and as long as I get the dose right I think it is a positive contributor to keeping the household running smoothly.  It also keeps the Coffee fairy on his toes which has got to be a good thing.

4 thoughts on “The Correct Dose of Caffeine

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