May 23, 2022

What coffee does to me (and probably you too)

I drink Mocha pot Espresso grade coffee. I drink a small cup every day – but its eight times the size of a double espresso.

When I first started drinking coffee in this way, I felt euphoric.

I felt optimistic, I loved myself and I loved everyone around me, and everything in general.

I also felt confident. Most importantly confident in my interactions with people. Why? Because I felt that there was nothing that anyone could do or say, that could puncture that good feeling I had. That good feeling was made of teflon.

I started drinking the stuff the same time I decided to go teetotal. There’s something in that, though I haven’t quite explored what.

But over time there’s been a downside too.

I can feel that coffee masks tiredness. I can feel the tiredness, but the coffee keeps me pumping. It can’t be good for the body. The heart in particular.

Also, I’ve noticed that coffee makes the sleep lighter. I can get to sleep, but then I can wake up at five, go to the toilet, come back to bed, and really not sleep well at all. Then you get into a vicious cycle right? Light sleep means feeling tired during the day, which leads to more coffee. Coffee zombie.

Also the coffee masks stress, emotional stuff, personal stuff. The good feeling coffee gives seems to act as a plastic coating over my stress. I can feel my stresses inside my body, but the plastic-coffee-wrap stops those stresses from communicating with my brain. Its like being in denial. Stresses, in this way, arguably build up, rather than get dissipated. Like a volcano, I fear they’re likely to erupt in a violent or uncontrollable way. Though I don’t have a great example of that happening yet.

I have experimented with not drinking coffee.

I slept more when I did that. I tended to have more siestas.

It felt healthier.

I felt more relaxed, more in touch with who I am, more down to earth.

The problem comes when my sleep gets disrupted.

That’s another story I suppose, though an important on.

When my sleep gets disrupted, and I don’t drink coffee, I feel sleepy all day long and tend to eat more.

 It doesn’t feel good and I don’t like putting on the weight – so I revert back to the coffee. And back round to the beginning.

Sociologically speaking, the euphoric feeling coffee gives makes me think about the role of drugs in human existence and experience.

Drugs are bad right?

They’re not food and we shouldn’t allow such substances to influence our feelings.

But can our existence and experience be so easily and cleanly separated from the substances and materials in the world around us?

Probably not.

Everything that we are, think, experience and understand is, in some sense, a function of what we ingest, imbibe and inhale. 

Or to put it another way, what we think of as a personal, individual or a shared human experience, perhaps isn’t just that. Its more. What we perceive as our will, or our opinions, choices and thoughts, may better understood as a function of a conversation between a large range of stimuluses and substances, which meet in the marketplace that is our bodies.

Coffee, for example, it has been argued, when discovered by the Arabs, may have been responsible for the scientific revolution in Arabian culture and thought. When coffee later arrived into western Europe, and to a certain extent replaced alcohol as the drink of choice for day to day stuff, it fired off an intellectual revolution in Europe. Alcohol spaces you out, perhaps to some extent allows you to enjoy the monotony of farm labour. Coffee focuses the mind intensely on a problem or issue, and allows you to unpick, untie and solve complex problems.

And who is to say what should and should not be traded within our market?

And who can explain what it is that ends up being traded within out market?

Maybe we should forget thinking about ourselves as boundaried physical beings, separate from everything that appears to be outside of us.

Maybe, instead we were meant to be married to the substances and materials around us.

So destined to take, be with and dance with coffee and other drugs.

Maybe the greatest joy can be derived from continuing to experiment with what we allow in to our market place, and maybe who we are is truly more about what we let in and what we consume, than anything we think or strive to be in some moral sense.

All of this starts making me wonder do humans really cultivate the coffee bean for our own use? Or does the coffee bean cultivate us for its use?

Are we manipulating the coffee bean or plant when we grow and harvest it? Or is it manipulating us?

Obviously if we start off from the point of view that we are conscious and the coffee plants are not, then it is the former.

But forget consciousness, and really you are left with the idea that perhaps the coffee species and ourselves really are equals.

Lovers engaged in an ongoing embrace and dance.

There is some material destiny, driven by experience, driven by a better state of being, experienced within the human being, but which foretells the meeting, eventually, of these lovers, coffee and man, coffee and woman; as if the coffee-human confederation or confluence or union is somehow an evolved form of previous human-material relations.