Archive for June, 2010

A World Cup of Coffee

There’s nothing like a cold beer and an intense game of soccer to whet the fever that has swept our sport loving nation.

With about 14 pubs and bars extending their liquor licences throughout Melbourne for the World Cup, there is a push to keep this boozy match made in heaven.

But with nocturnal hours and four o’clock alarm bells, it seems unusual to accompany them with such a downer of a drink. A few venues offered coffee as a way to combat the woes that go with a red card fail.

In Williamstown, the Steam Packet Hotel gave “die-hard supporters… a breakfast roll and coffee on arrival” to the past June 14th game. Fanatics started forming a line shortly after four in the morning and owner Scott Meager thought a full stomach and some caffeine was the best way to ward off an inebriated fine.

Belle Epoque in Brisbane served an “$8 coffee and croissant deal” during the first of the Socceroos quest for cup glory testing the waters for a sobriety trend.

Also in Queensland, La Dolce Vita Caffe will be “open 24/7 during the World Cup,” serving both uppers and downers but at least advertising different options for an early morning beverage.

On an international scope, Café Gauna in Buenos Aires had a different kind of brew in mind with the irregular hours of matches. “A good old-fashioned, English style drinking session was out of the question” at 8am and espresso was a more convenient option to have on tap.

LA Weekly in Los Angeles came out with a top ten of where to drink and barrack, naming a few great coffee distributors that televise games and serve hot steaming stimulants.

Most of us are on a different time frame and work throughout the week making it hard to indulge in alcohol with every game played. Coffee seems to be a more appropriate and still social alternative than a couple debilitating beers.

And with Wimbledon overlapping the World Cup hype. Try putting down the Pimm’s for a long black with your strawberries and cream, you may actually be able to make out the athlete’s face.

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Stimulated

“I have heard this before and still don’t believe it to be true. So I am going to test it on myself, a hardcore coffee drinker.”

I got dressed up for coffee this morning. My hair was done, best boots were on and with my girlfriend in tow I went to have my very first strong soy latte.

Comments flew in early in the week letting me know the first one back would taste amazing. My local gave me one of the best coffees I have ever had and it took an intense amount of energy to not order another.

I went slow, first spoon feeding myself the froth then sipping lightly, it almost went cold. I was determined to take time with my indulgence; I didn’t want to waste it by slipping into the bad habit of chugging.

After about ten minutes, once my new ritual was completed I got the shakes. This has happened a handful of times throughout my espresso consuming life, it made me feel wired right away.

What followed was one of the most productive days I’ve had all week.

I shopped, cleaned the house, finished another assignment then went for a run. I tried to take a nap but there were so many thoughts coming in and out it was impossible to keep my eyes closed. I was so up today that that calm, unaffected person you met a few days ago seems like a blur.

I guess I am back to my multi-tasking ways as well, because I couldn’t seem to stay away from Facebook and Twitter.

Caffeine increases your serotonin levels and I felt that effect, I was generally happier once I had gotten my hit. I was dancing to music whilst I cleaned the house, nothing was a chore, I felt great.

I’m glad I re-configured my caffeine intake, because I didn’t actually know what it was doing to me. I have been proven wrong, I was just adding to my high with every sip that I took, never coming down and never going up, my ‘alertness’, I believe, was an illusion.

I won’t be drinking eight shots of espresso anymore, I am a reformed barista. Being more careful with my consumption will make me respect the bean even more and the effects it can delightfully bring.

I also have more of an appreciation for those who drink weak lattes and decaf. I sincerely apologize for rolling my eyes when you ordered; I now know how you feel.

Unstimulated Day 6

“I don’t want to become a case study in some journal of psychiatry so I’m going to get a handle on this now.”

When I study I have a ritual. Actual study gets 30 minutes followed by five minutes on Facebook then a cigarette and coffee and back to the cycle.

I studied all day without social networking, a cigarette or hot drink interruption. This is monumental.

Focussing on a single job for more than an hour is something I thought I just wasn’t capable of or a symptom of the Attention Age. But I was wrong. I think I was just too wired to keep my thoughts on one thing.

Perhaps this mellow demeanour that I have been shunning is actually beneficial. I finished my assignment so that’s a plus for no caffeine. But I got tired and wanted a nap, downside to no caffeine.

Instead of sleeping, I did some searching into this and found Swedish blogger, Henrik Edberg, had given up caffeine for 30 days (something I am not willing to do). He said “I’m less prone to procrastination. I didn’t really notice it while I was drinking coffee but my mind seemed to wander off in all kinds of ways a lot of the time.”

My now one tract mind did seem more patient while researching and I certainly felt less stress but I could’ve used an energy boost in the afternoon.

Tomorrow I am having my first coffee. Trust me though, there will only be one. If there is anything I’ve learned this week it’s that I was consuming way too much caffeine and that I now hate herbal tea.

Unstimulated Day 5

“Because we build up a tolerance by drinking it every day, we are always buzzing, never really pinging. The daily hit just keeps the headaches at bay.”

I haven’t pinged or buzzed for days now and like I mentioned my personality has become somewhat peculiar.

A University of Florida study in 2000 showed “that 50% of moderate coffee drinkers could feel increased mood changes when consuming as little as 18 mg of caffeine.” My newly altered state is neither up nor down. I am on cruise control and it is so boring.

The weekends are the only time I ever pay for coffee. Since it is so readily available while I work and free even when I’m off the clock, it became so easy to indulge almost hourly.

I was consuming roughly eight espresso shots a day and with about 100mg of caffeine in each, my levels were through the roof. I’m not even going to factor in the chocolate and cans of coke that number would really make my habit seem ridiculous.

So I guess I’m one of the 50% that experienced a mood change, although I would consider myself to be a high coffee consumer. I think I like buzzing a little more than this mellow, aloof demeanour I seem to have adopted.

Oh well, only two days left til I have my first hit of espresso. Hopefully, I won’t be too over the top afterwards.

Unstimulated Day 4

“Wish me luck, I will update every evening to let you know how many customers I screamed at and conclude with a cup of coffee next Sunday, I already can’t wait.”

The cravings began today. I thought this out loud mission would give me enough strength throughout the week so I would turn my nose up at caffeine.

Nope. All I wanted was chocolate, coke and of course a strong soy latte. Oh man I miss it, I miss it badly.

I didn’t give in; instead I had five cups of chamomile tea and about three bottles of water. Guess I thought I could just wash the cravings out of me. Nope, STILL WANT A COFFEE.

I also worked all day and it seemed as though every customer was against me. I swear each time I took an order they scattered their change all over the counter. There were so many latte spills the mop needs a holiday and when packing up the outside furniture two people just sat there, talking, unaware that we were waiting for them to close.

“Uh… hello? All the tables and chairs are gone except for yours wanna move?” I imagined saying.

“Deeply sorry about our loitering and you’re doing such a good job, here’s 50 bucks.” I imagined them saying.

But I didn’t scream, yell or articulate a smart ass comment. I was pretty patient with all of them even though I was struggling internally. Irritated? I think so, but at least it’s manageable.

Unstimulated Day 3

“I rarely press snooze on my alarm clock. I literally cannot wait to get out of bed and have my first cup of coffee for the day.”

All I have been doing for the last three days is sleeping. It’s as if I have been deprived of it for the past nine years of drinking coffee. The snooze button is my newfound friend.

I have always been one of those nutcases that could never sleep in past 7, no matter what time I fell into bed. Now I have been taking three hour naps each afternoon and it is quite the puffy-eyed struggle to pry myself up after 8 more through the night.

Apparently, this is all part of the withdrawal process as “when you stop caffeine you allow your body to catch up on its lost rest. Using caffeine to force yourself into activity is like flogging an exhausted horse.”

So, at the moment I’m a flogged horse that can’t stop yawning. I’m still a little loopy but my concentration is getting better. I did, however, get a little irritable today.

It’s been rather cold lately so I went to buy a sweater. After the third shop full of bored retail workers, I got an over the top ‘hi, how’s your day going’? This peppy little fashionista must have been full of caffeine because her eagerness was unbearable. I said ‘fine’ and kept looking.

Then came the ‘is there anything I can help you with’ same amount of pep. I shot back a sharp ‘no’ and she retreated to her til. I felt bad but couldn’t be bothered explaining my current state; I was, after all, too tired.

Unstimulated Day 2

“Due to this epiphany I have decided to take all caffeine off my menu for the next seven days. This includes of course coffee, chocolate, soda, energy drinks and all teas except the herbal varieties.”

I worked for seven hours today. I made hundreds of coffees and watched nearly every customer sip, slurp and chug their creamy, caramel colored lattes.

And you know what? It really wasn’t that bad.

I had a bit of a migraine hangover when I arrived at work. It felt like I was walking through cobwebs wherever I went, I was dizzy and everything was blurry. But by 10 am, when the Melbourne sun finally made its appearance so did my new personality.

Still haven’t seen a bitchy side to all of this, which is interesting because I tend to be a moody barista which goes by the hour yet I have been extremely laid back for the past two days. Didn’t even get mad when a customer asked me to remake her drink even though SHE didn’t say skinny. Instead I smiled and frothed away.

Making coffee didn’t make me want coffee, I had my herbal tea, but what I really wanted was chocolate. I even jumped on my iPhone to see if there was caffeine in white chocolate since I had ruled it all out just in case. There isn’t.

So I’m going to sit back with my dream bar and cheers to the end of my headache-free day.


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