Coffee falls into the stomach … ideas begin to move, things remembered arrive at full gallop …

the shafts of wit start up like sharp-shooters, similies arise, the paper is covered with ink …
-Honoré de Balzac

Coffee is my bad boyfriend.  We have an on-again, off-again love affair.  I crave it, I love the taste, then a few hours later I start feeling jittery or stressed, and kick myself.  Then I get tired.  So I go back again for another fix.  I love coffee, but he doesn’t love me back.  Still, I persist.

I remember my first cup… it was in 10th grade French class.  I got the “cool” French teacher that year.  The teacher who we wanted to chaperone our dances.  Who was a human rights activist, a bit eccentric and outspoken.  The teacher who put a poster in the classroom window, so the Principal couldn’t look in as he walked the halls.

And not only was she a bit intimidating, but the other girls in the class seemed to be part of her cool posse.  They couldn’t speak enough French to order a baguette, but they had nicknames and inside jokes, and all drank coffee together in our morning class.

And then there was me (who, in 10th grade, was very obviously not cool.)

We had a coffee maker in class (another reason that poster was blocking the window, I’m sure) and a container of French Vanilla coffee mate creamer – et voila – my love affair with coffee was born.

Sipping coffee with the cool girls, and speaking (really bad) French, I felt so grown up and sophisticated, so far away from my normal high school existence.  Maybe that’s what made me move to Paris years later…but that’s a topic for another time!

Coffee.  Is it so bad?

Coffee always seems to be in the media, with conflicting health reports.  One day it’s good for you (antioxidants! Less risk of Alzheimer’s and liver disease!), the next, it’s the beverage to avoid (Caffeine! High blood pressure! Dehydration!)

The only way to find out if coffee works for YOU is to listen to your body.

I used to drink 3, 4, 5+ cups of coffee per day.  Especially in those years when coffee houses were new and cool, and then later, working at my first job, wanting to be the busy professional clutching a cup of Starbucks.  (Was that me? Really? Cringe.)

But recently I’ve started noticing what I eat, and how it makes me feel … and I’ve realized that coffee isn’t as great for me as I thought. 

I started noticing that on days when I had more than one cup of coffee, I felt more stressed, and more mentally scattered.

I felt a lot of pressure to multi-task and do more, more, more … but was not actually more productive.  Just more stressed and busy.

I also noticed that drinking coffee in the afternoon made it hard for me to sleep at night.

So I’ve cut back.  Way back.  To one cup of decaf per day, with the occasional full-caf on the weekends or when I’m out.

I fall off the wagon sometimes, like when I’m in Italy and can’t resist the little espressos.  But overall I’m getting my relationship with coffee under control.

(Everything, that is, except my undying love for Coffeemate flavored creamer.   I am so embarrassed to admit this.  This stuff is about as un-VintageAmanda as it comes … AND it contains trans-fat!  And loads of sugar and unpronounceable ingredients!  Aaah!  One step at a time.)


What’s your experience with coffee, and caffeine in general? Love it or hate it? Do you notice any physical effects from it? Have you ever tried to give it up?  Share your experience in the comments!

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