I love coffee.
I don’t need it to wake up or stay active at work; I choose to drink it because I love the taste. I don’t rely on the fresh-ground aromas filling my nostrils to start my day, but smell undoubtedly brings forth the day’s first smile. From that smile a ritual was born: filling the kettle, assembling my cracked and chipped french press, the tinkle of coarsely ground beans being poured, waiting to press the mix, the first sip. I love coffee. Whether it’s a fancy brew from a privately owned café, a chain doughnut shop, or a packet of rehydrated crystals in a hotel room, I love it all.
So why would I quit something I love so much? I don’t have any health reasons to stop drinking the liquid luxury. My schedule allows me the time to enjoy the lengthy ritual of french pressing my own java. Sure, I’m chemically addicted to the caffeine, but it’s an addiction I’m more than willing to live with. Simply put, there is no one-sentence reason I can give for why I’m giving up on my great passion. The answer came to me this morning when I was starring contemplatively at the drip brewer.
The passion is gone. The ritual has become stale, and I have become desensitized to the whole process of enjoying a rich, well-brewed pot of coffee. In that moment, I realized that I had been relying on coffee to bring a smile to my face every day. I woke up with a frown of my face and a cloud of negativity over my head, and I realized that a cup of coffee was not going to change that. The experience had become hollow, and I was leaning on it like a crutch.
If you were to sift through a log of my thoughts you would find “at least I have coffee” repeated daily. My car breaks; “at least I have coffee.” My paycheck won’t cover my bills; “at least I have coffee.” Whenever I felt gloomy or down, I kept reassuring myself that there was always that cup of coffee to look forward to the next morning. But the amount of joy in that cup has been waining for some time. It was something I relied on for happiness, and I was slowly becoming numb to its effects. I don’t want that for me, and I don’t want coffee to turn into the thing that lets me down first thing in the morning.
I miss the experience of enjoying the flavor and aroma the way I used to. I want that experience to bring on the rush of endorphin and dopamine that it used to. Quitting coffee will make it special again. The rare instances when I do enjoy a cup I will enjoy it. Coffee will be special again, not just a thing I do. I want the ritual to have significance again.
I feel the itch as I’m writing this. Every so often my hand absentmindedly drifts toward a nonexistent cup. My mind is searching for the smell I know so well. I’m unsure if I’ll cave into the withdrawal headaches tomorrow. Maybe this is all an exercise in futility, but it has taught me something: I have become emotionally addicted to coffee, and I have become desensitized to the happiness it usually brings.
I love coffee, but I have to let it go.
Photo by Mikey Jon Holm; Creative Commons Attribution License