The coffee habit
I’ve been drinking coffee lately.
This wouldn’t be a major announcement for most adults, but for years and years and years I didn’t drink coffee at all.
Two of my closest friends in college, Melissa and Ed, drank a lot of coffee. Yet despite spending many, many hours in their company, I never picked up the habit. Which is a bit odd, as I am a social drinker by nature and didn’t have any qualms about drinking lots of beer in their company.
But for some reason, I feared coffee. I feared I would become addicted to it, and require a cup or two every morning just to make it through the day.
Some people don’t drink coffee because they don’t like it.
But I’m not one of those people.
I like coffee just fine.
I can drink it black, and I can also drink it with cream and sugar. I like coffee shops, and coffee-flavored things like ice cream. So why I felt the need to resist giving in to the temptation of drinking coffee, I don’t fully understand.
Now, it is true that I’ve never been a big drinker of warm beverages, so perhaps the temptation just wasn’t that great.
I seldom drink hot chocolate or tea, with the exception of the three years I lived in Birmingham, Ala., when I drank tea all the time, mainly because my good friend Adam drank tea all the time. Adam is something of a connoisseur of fine teas, and he brews a variety of high-quality, loose leaf teas. We often spent our evenings hanging out in his living room, having long talks over hot cups of tea.
After Adam moved away, I tried to maintain this habit of drinking loose leaf tea. I purchased a special teapot, and ordered loose leaf tea from Upton Tea Imports, a specialty tea company based in Massachusetts. But I quickly found that I drank very little tea without Adam around, despite my fancy new equipment and carefully selected flavors of tea, and concluded that hot beverages were just not my thing.
But perhaps I was wrong, because I’ve had no trouble developing a coffee-drinking habit.
Given my plethora of weird, obsessive habits, it seems strange, in retrospect, that I drew the line at drinking coffee on a semiregular basis.
Why is drinking coffee any worse than drinking soda every day, or keeping long, categorized lists of movies, or carefully arranging and rearranging my music collection? Coffee will at least help keep me awake and doesn’t contain sweeteners or sugar substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup or aspartame.
My newfound coffee-drinking habit is the direct result of cutting back on my soda consumption.
For every article I read about the evils of soda, I read another article about how coffee is actually good for you.
A study published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that consumption of coffee and tea is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, while other studies have linked coffee consumption to lowered risks of colon cancer and heart disease, and may help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. All of which sounds good to me!
Of course, future studies might paint a less rosy picture of the effects of coffee consumption.
And I’ll pay attention to those studies, if and when they come out.
But right now I’m excited about the growing body of research suggesting that drinking coffee can be beneficial. These studies have been strangely liberating, enabling me to drink coffee free of the guilt I typically associate with developing “bad” habits. Because it’s not really a bad habit! Of course, it’s not like I’m drinking 20 cups a day — just a cup or two, here and there.
I’ve embraced coffee as both a vehicle for caffeine, as well as a social drink.
I have friends who live about an hour from my apartment in Albany, and I often drive home from their house late at night. They are big coffee drinkers, and I’ve found that I enjoy drinking coffee with them — that it’s fun, in the same way drinking tea with Adam was fun. But I’ve also found that drinking coffee is essential if I’m going to make the long drive home. It’s after these long drives where I generally experience the downside of coffee — an inability to sleep, even though you want to. But I feel like the trade-off — having fun with my friends, being able to drive home — has generally been worth it.
Last weekend I went to Proctor’s for the Godzilla festival sponsored by It Came From Schenectady. The first film, “King Kong Vs. Godzilla,” started at 7 p.m., and was followed by the original Godzilla movie, the uncut, Japanese film “Gojira,” from 1954.
It had been a long day, and I was quite certain I needed a cup of coffee to get through the cinematic double-header without falling asleep. But then I noticed that there was beer for sale. And wouldn’t I rather have a beer?
For a moment, I hesitated.
But in the end, I decided that yes, I did want a beer.
And I wondered: Who was that person who was considering buying coffee instead of a beer? Was that really me?
I found out the next night, when I returned to Proctors to watch “Django,” the 1966 spaghetti western that partially inspired Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, “Django Unchained.”
“I’m going to get a coffee,” I told my friend Bruce.
And I did, and it was good.
Foss Forward makes a weekly appearance in print, in The Gazette’s Saturday Lifestyles section. You can email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.