ADDICTED TO COFFEE

I love good coffee. Or so I've been telling myself?! Lately, I have not been enjoying my coffee quite so much, even though I still persist with my mid-morning ritual (denial / addiction to caffeine / habit). I usually make one to sit down with a task I really need to concentrate on. But is the coffee doing anything (good) for me or is it just the comforting power of the ritual?

I like my coffee pretty strong (double shot minimum), with one sugar and a drop of milk. Depending on your point of view, this could easily be the perfect trilogy of evil: caffeine, dairy and sugar, all in one.

Now, the question I am asking myself is this: to quit coffee or not to quit coffee? Sugar is bad, dairy isn't great, and what do we know about caffeine? 

Insert google, wikipedia et al! 

Here are a few Wikipedia facts that I stumbled upon:

CAFFEINE...

* '...is found in the seeds, leaves and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants'  ... hmmm, pesticide + kills, sounds great (not)

* in humans, caffeine acts as a central nervous system and metabolic stimulant

* can disrupt sleep

* has diuretic properties

* excess of caffeine interferes with nutrient absorption, can affect coordination and contribute to osteoporosis (by supressing vitamin D receptors)

* heavy use can result in ‘significant physical and mental dependence’ and be accompanied by a range of conditions: nervousness, irritability, restlesness, insomnia, headaches, heart palpitations

On the other hand, Wikipedia claims:

* coffee consumption is associated with a lower overall risk of cancer

* it may play a small part in reducing the risk of type two diabetes

* there is no evidence that it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease

* it may increase effectiveness of headache medications

(All of the above claims are referenced on the Wikipedia caffeine page.)

DECAFF

Decaff coffee doesn't seem like a much better option either, it still contains caffeine! Much less than regular coffee but it does. And, frankly, it tastes hideous. But the really dirty fact I came across is this: historically, the extraction of caffeine from coffee has been performed using different solvents (benzene, chloroform, trichloroethylene, dichloromethane) although these have been superseded by safer methods (water extraction, carbon dioxide extraction, extraction by organic solvents). Hmmmm, it all sounds a bit dodgy, better to stay away altogether.

So to quit coffee or not to quit coffee? I am not quite sure. Actually, I think deep down I know the answer but am not quite ready to act on it just yet.

There is a very interesting conference currently airing on the en*theos website, Recovery 2.0, a topic of which is addiction. Not only the obvious, destructive kind (hard drugs, alcohol), but addiction as a concept in general. Yep, this would include addiction to coffee. And it's making me think...

Coincidentally, Deepak Chopra talked about habits (the bad kind) in today's installment of the 21-Day Meditation Challenge : 'if you find yourself subconsciously lighting your fifth cigarette of the day, you are acting out a habit'. And smoking (or drinking coffee) habitually is addiction. Deepak says the best way to start breaking the habit is by becoming aware. Aha!

And so over the next few days, I will make it my business to take my coffee mindfully and let the truth unfold. Do I really love coffee or am I simply addicted to it?

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