‘Decaf is like masturbating with an oven mitt.’ Not my words, but those of the late, great Robin Williams. Words that resonate with coffee drinkers everywhere, and until recently, words that I never truly appreciated. The UK consumes a staggering 70 million cups of coffee each day. So whether you’re a student trying to espresso yourself or an office worker getting through the daily grind, you’re not alone, your love of the stuff is united. In fact, globally, we get through more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day. It appears the world has a bit of a caffeine addiction.
I suppose this is where I should hold my hands up and come clean: my name is Dougie and I’m addicted to coffee. Scarily this was not the case 10 days ago. I have always enjoyed coffee (and who doesn’t enjoy coffee and cake at Mrs Athas?) but not to a point where I had a dependence on it. However, 10 days ago I decided to don my metaphorical lab coat and turn myself into a human guinea pig. In the name of science, but mainly out of intrigue, I wanted to see what impacts exist from the over consumption of coffee.
To achieve this I proposed to drink 5 cups of coffee a day for 5 continuous days. As I’m a glutton for punishment, this would then be followed by 5 ‘cold turkey’ days, cutting my consumption completely. What were the results I hear you ask? Well here they are. This is my caffeine diary.
First and foremost, by drinking five cups of coffee I would be consuming around 750mg of caffeine a day, a figure at the top end of the recommended high use. I would therefore just like to suggest that you perhaps refrain from trying this at home yourself (unless you already do of course).
The increase in caffeine intake caused a very noticeable shock to my system during that first day. Whilst finishing the third cup I was treated to a ghastly headache, an event which occurred at the same point throughout the week. It’s comforting to know that my body looks out for my best interests, indicating its displeasure at my current foray into scientific research. However this is science, so my body was ignored and I ploughed on. Luckily during the fourth cup the headache passed, and by the fifth I felt great. Well, once I’d been pried from the ceiling that is.
That initial dream like state, where I felt as light as air, lasted for the majority of Monday afternoon, which interestingly coincided with my urge to listen to a variety of German techno and old school dance music. Who would have thought vast quantities of caffeine would reignite a deep burning passion for Zombie Nation?
Needless to say, Monday was not the most productive day of my life. Nor, in fact, was the rest of the week; my days instead revolving around getting coffee or instead drinking the stuff. Surprisingly, other than my ‘regular as clockwork’ headache, and the obvious need to pee more, I had no other bodily based repercussions. This was easy.
Well actually, not so easy. I still had the 5 days of ‘caffeine free’ living to look forward to. I eased through the weekend, with the fool proof plan of replacing coffee consumption with that of alcohol. It worked like a dream, until the Monday morning. I had been assured (wait for it, more science coming up) that eating apples would help boost my system and get me through this caffeine free time. As I did not have any apples to hand I opted for several pears. As a result, I can categorically state, and please note that I now have science to back me up on this, pears are rubbish.
Monday was a bad day, a very bad day indeed. So bad that come Tuesday morning I could take no more and returned to the dark side, taking a sip (followed by several further sips) of a wonderful elixir I had come to know well. Coffee. Bliss.
What wisdom can I therefore impart on you, my reader, as a result of my folly? Firstly, it appears that alcohol is an excellent substitute for times of caffeine scarcity, although this is not an avenue I would personally endorse. Secondly, caffeine is addictive. Very addictive. As wonderful as a ‘Grande, Quad, Nonfat, One-Pump, No-Whip, Mocha’ sounds, I would certainly suggest you refrain from drinking too many of these. Finally, and probably most importantly, pears are rubbish. This is irrefutable.