I am an addict, and I love it

May 06, 2017

Journalist Barclay White tried and failed to kick his coffee habit.

My name is Barclay White and I am a coffee addict.

Each morning when I wake up I probably drive my housemates mad with the noise when I crank up my increasingly noisy, but oh so lovely, coffee machine.

The bizarre contraption cost me close to $500, but to me it is money very well spent.

When I get out of bed the first thing I do is grind some coffee beans, heat the coffee contraption up and get ready to pour myself a sweet cup of caffeinated magic, otherwise known as a flat white.

I don’t take drugs, I am not a heavy drinker, but when it comes to caffeine I will admit I am hopelessly and pathetically hooked.

Most mornings I will not leave the house until I have consumed a cup of the heavenly liquid, and if I have not had my cup things feel incomplete.

In Victoria a love of coffee is as common as a love of AFL, but I got hooked on the brown bean via an unlikely source.

When I was a teenager and living on the sunny Gold Coast, I had my first instant coffee when I was preparing for exams. I despised the putrid taste of the foul, oil-like liquid, but it had the kick to get me through some long nights at the desk.

Ever so gradually, instant coffee became the gateway drug to a full-blown addiction to proper coffee made by qualified baristas.

I had mental maps in my head of the best coffee shops in my ’hood and I got to know my local baristas about as well as most addicts know their dealers, and I treated them well because I was always after another hit.

Before I knew it I could not go a day without several cups of the glorious stuff and I started to wonder about its effect on my health.

There is no doubt that coffee can give you the jitters when you have too many and, after my addiction had taken hold, I decided to try going cold turkey.

That meant no coffee shop coffee, no iced coffee, no instant and, to prevent myself from going to a caffeinated alternative, no cola, tea or chocolate.

I quickly learned what trying to quit a drug addiction was like as I went through full-blown withdrawal symptoms.

I had splitting headaches, could not concentrate and could not sleep. Basically I just felt like there was something missing for me to feel complete.

Caffeine might be legal, but kicking it is a challenge, just like kicking any drug.

Coffee is only second to oil in the most globally-traded commodities. In the United States, 83 per cent of adults are regular drinkers of the demon bean.

Australians are some of the most dedicated coffee snobs in the world — as of 2013 we were spending more than $3billion a year to get our fix.

Despite going cold turkey for a number of months, the delightful smell of freshly ground beans was enough to take me back over to the dark side.

However, I now advocate quality over quantity and try to stick to one or two cups in the morning, and I won’t touch instant — or, as I call it, the methadone to my heroin.

I have given up any hope that I will ever kick the demon bean for good, but when I smell those ground beans in the morning, I feel like I have made the right choice.

Barclay White is a News journalist.

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