People drink coffee to wake them up, yes? But what about when the need for coffee wakes you up. You open your eyes on a fresh, sunny morning and smile for a quick second until the pounding and hammering starts in your head. Your temples feel like they might implode as your temporal lobes scream out for some caffeinated relief. You reach out to find your other half to ask him to bring a cup up to you so that you can ingest some before having to actually get up but you find he’s not there, gone to work early…. Probably drinking his own cup of freshly brewed Espresso from the new pod machine installed in his office. Lucky Bastard.
The kids are stirring so the panic sets in as you realise you can’t cope with their ‘Mammy, she took my teddy’ or ‘Mammy, I can’t find my uniform’. So, before they wake fully, you drag your heavy headed self from bed and somehow make your way downstairs in your haze of sore-headedness. That sound, that beautiful sound of the kettle switching itself off as the plume of eager steam spits from its’ spout. The glug of the hot water hitting the freeze dried granules and that instant hit of aroma fills your nostrils and leaves you with a sense that relief is on it’s way, it’s just cooling slightly in your favourite mug.
Back in bed and after maybe five minutes cooling time, that first taste. Sweet, bitter, round, full. Just another few minutes and the caffeine will be assimilated into your blood stream, travelling straight to your head and soothing your aching temples with little imaginary coffee bean shaped hands. “Ahhhhhh” you hear yourself say just as the kids burst in the door full of riot and loudness. But it’s ok now. Coffee is here.
For me, coffee was always an accessory to socialising. Sitting in a café with friends, sipping occasionally while discussing the merits of Smirnoff Ice versus Bacardi & Coke or more currently, Pampers versus Huggies. Invariably, the beverage would be still sitting in the cup, left to go cold and neglected by conversation. Nowadays, the first cup doesn’t survive past the arrival of my friends. It lies empty, except for a small ring of brown around it’s inside and some unground particles of beans at the base indicating that coffee once resided here. The banter begins and the second cup is on its way.Hurrah.
In Italy, Rome in particular, coffee has reached a new level of necessity. In the case of Dublin, you will see suited Captains (male and female) of Industry, rushing around, briefcase in one hand, polystyrene cup of the good stuff in the other. In Rome, they don’t even have time for that. They stick their beautifully tanned index finger up at the barrista to indicate one please, the espresso cup is placed in front of them on a counter and they down it in one, pay, then leave, briefcase in hand, caffeine fuelled smile on their face. They walk out into the sunshine, ready to start their day as glamorous, fashionable, Italian business types.
I did wonder as I sat in the Roman café on Via Nationale drinking my Americano (which the barrista almost laughed at when I ordered) if these people suffered the same as I did when they woke. Did they too drag themselves out of bed, hastily and sleepily dress themselves, grab their cases and hurriedly make their way to the nearest ‘dealer’. Probably not. They looked calm, collected and dignified. Not like me when I arrive at the kettle in the morning, a tangled nest of hair on my head, half dressed, eyes struggling to stay open. Even the dog knows not to look me in the eye until I’m suitably caffeinated.
Such is the hold of caffeine on the body that once a friend of mine tried to give it up. She couldn’t understand why the withdrawal headache was still affecting her two weeks later. It turned out she was taking a pain killer that contained caffeine so was not only medicating her pain, but feeding her addiction unbeknownst. Caffeine was guffawing smugly and telling her ‘you can’t get rid of me so easily!’
So, I give serious consideration to giving up coffee as I squint to try and block out the morning light that’s irritating my headache so much. But the lure of the coffee aroma as I pour in the freshly boiled water from the kettle convinces me otherwise.