As I take my first sip of coffee of the week, I can’t help but think – is coffee a coping mechanism? Or is it just something to get the day started? What kind of coffee drinker am I?
I was laying in bed this morning, my brain coaxing myself to get out of bed after sleeping for over 24 hours. My first thought was, “I want a cup of coffee.” Then a few minutes later it was, “I need a cup of coffee. I should get up and shower.”
As the kettle was brewing a short while later, I couldn’t help but think. Do I really need coffee? Or is it something that I enjoy drinking? Is coffee a coping mechanism that just helps get my day started? And of course, what kind of coffee drinker am I?
I decided to do some digging to see if I was alone in these thoughts.
How much coffee do you drink per day?
I dated a welder once who would drink about a pot of coffee early in his shift. He figured since he was a smoker, and inhaling toxic fumes all day in the shop, that drinking that much coffee wasn’t going to be the thing to kill him. To me, at that time, the thought was gross. An entire pot of coffee?
But it seems that Kevin wasn’t the only one who drank an entire pot of coffee in the morning to get himself going. According to a study done by the Statista Global Consumer Survey, most people drank 2-4 cups of coffee per day on average.
People like me, who have switched to one or two cups per days, are of the lower bracket and make up only 26% of the study. Or no coffee at all. I can tell you from personal experience, that I do know a handful of people that are tea drinkers and avoid coffee like the plague. Not realizing the tea they consume has about the same amount of caffeine in a cup.
I fall into the even smaller category of 18% of the people that drink instant coffee. But if you travel to Denmark, instant coffee is all the rage out there. For one, it’s cheaper. For me, it’s less waste as a single person.
Since switching to instant coffee, I drink maybe 1 to 2 cups per day now. When I was working, my coffee would often get cold which meant either visiting the office microwave or making a new cup of coffee. Then I’d have to have coffee with lunch. And then a mid-afternoon coffee to wake up. I would have 4-5 cups throughout the working day.
Coffee very much became a coping mechanism for me – and a bit of an addiction too. But every now and then, I can go an entire day without it.
Coffee is comforting
For me, coffee is an experience. Especially on those dark and brutally cold winter mornings where the temperature reaches below -30C. There’s something about smelling freshly brewed coffee beans. Then hearing the coffee splash into a coffee mug. Then it’s adding the sugar, cream and listening to the metal spoon clanking against the porcelain cup.
Then the best part – is sitting at your desk before you check your email. You take a whiff of that first cup of coffee smell. You embrace the cup with your hands. It warms them. You close your eyes. And for just a moment, the world around you is silent.
It’s all about the coffee. You are lost in the moment of – coffee.
Nothing tastes better than the first sip of your first coffee of the day.
Coffee as a social thing
Coffee is more than a comforting thing. It’s a social thing. When I worked at one of the largest buildings downtown a few years ago, there was a Starbucks downstairs and Tim Horton’s right around the corner. If my coworkers and I timed it right, it would take less than five minutes and we’d have a fresh cup of coffee in our hands.
We’d take our morning break and chat about our days while watching people walk by. If I was really lucky, I’d have a short meeting with whoever I was reporting to that day and we’d chat about what needed to be done. As a contractor, I went for more coffee breaks with management teams than I did in the last five years as a permanent worker.
Coffee was indeed a social thing at work. It was a way for managers to show appreciation for their employees. It was a way for old friends to catch up and get together.
Coffee can bring people together. Whether you’re sharing good news, or just two old friends catching up. Or you just want to get out of the office for a while.
Coffee as an identity
We’ve all seen those people in the lineups at Starbucks. There are people who insist on having the same coffee or latte over and over again. They refuse to step out of their comfort zone. My go to at Starbucks is always a Caramel Macchiato, because I know what it taste likes. I might step out of my comfort zone and order a special holiday drink like the pumpkin spice latte. Or in summer months, I’ll splurge on an iced coffee. But most of the time, I keep it simple.
A venti caramel macchiato please.
But then you get people who take Starbucks coffee a little too seriously. It’s almost like they identify with the drink too much. Coffee baristas will understand what I mean. Here are some examples I have overheard while in line at Starbucks.
- Triple venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato
- Decaf, soy latte with an extra shot and cream
- Tall, half caff, soy latte at 120 degrees
- Venti 1/2 and 1/2 vanilla extra whip
Why can’t people just keep it simple? I feel for baristas at times, I do.
I rehearse what I’m going to order in my head a million times before getting up to the cash register. Then when they ask me, “Hi, what can I get you?” My mind goes blank and I stare frantically at the chalk board. All the letters blur together until I remember – “caramel macchiato!”
And then I practically shout it at the barista and give a nervous chuckle that says, “I meant to do that”. I can feel my cheeks turn red and my fingers fumble for my bank card which I anxiously tap on the screen.
“Sorry, thanks,” I mumble and walk quickly over to the line up next to the washroom.
I wonder what my coffee identify would be.
Shy, and awkward? Is that a coffee name? Because, it’s appropriate.
And then I think back to Kevin, the Newfie welder, who always knew what he wanted in a coffee.
“Double double, with an extra cup.”
Maybe that’s the way coffee should be.
Simple. Strong. Effective.
And so, these are thoughts that plague my mind this chilly Monday morning. I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee, it’s Folgers and instant, which is quite tasty. Sometimes I’ll brew a pot of McDonald’s coffee but that’s a rare thing. I’m actually kind of debating on whether or not I should order in from Starbucks just to be lazy. It’s been years since I’ve had my beloved macchiato.
I’ll end this post with a favorite scene of mine from a classic Tom Hanks movie, You’ve Got Mail. It’s still relevant today. And I think it’s a romantic movie kind of night tonight.
You’ve Got Mail – Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan
What kind of coffee drinker are you? Let me know in the comments!
I posted a poll on Twitter the other day. And these were the results. Only 34 people responded – but that’s pretty average for Twitter. There’s so much spam and people post a lot – so it’s really hard to get noticed. But I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Username blocked out for now – I may change that later. I mostly use Twitter to network and keep in touch with local friends.
Results not listed: 2 people commented that they drink decaf only. One person said tea and hot chocolate on cold days.