0615, Monday morning:
A cup of organic, french-pressed, black coffee.
Two lazy pig dogs.
Mumford & Sons.
A quiet house.
Always the first to rise, I relish the stillness. In fact, Isaac knows full well not to get out of bed before 0715; mama needs her alone time.
These fleeting early moments, before the rising of the sun—they are deeply cherished.
First blush of morning will not appear until 0659 here in Santa Monica. Until then, I am blessed with these stolen moments of darkness, these moments when it feels as though the whole world is asleep and all that exists is me, my mellow tunes, and my black coffee. Oh yes, and these dogs who have somehow managed to go back to sleep despite the fact that they’ve only recently awoken.
Alone time in my home is a rare commodity, and therefore something I do not take for granted.
While the time itself is important, the simple things that fill it are by far more relevant. The gentle sound of my keystrokes, the ambience of my music, the stillness of the sleepy neighborhood—and the coffee. Especially the coffee.
You see, I’m not a woman who drinks coffee to wake up or stay awake. I’m not addicted to coffee by any means, and I’m certainly not in the habit of drinking coffee that tastes horrible simply for the caffeine boost. I love coffee, plain and simple. I love the aroma, the taste, the warmth. Above all, I love the ritual.
Give me a cup of smooth, organic, fair trade black coffee, and I am at peace. Take my coffee, and well, you wouldn’t like me when you take my coffee.
So, imagine my justifiable frustration at the slew of coffee haters in my social media feed. Lately it seems to be running rampant, and I’ve just about had it with headlines such as:
“Do these 5 things every morning instead of drinking coffee.”
“10 simple steps to giving up coffee.”
“The 7 best coffee substitutes.”
“8 reasons to quit coffee.”
You know what? No. Just no.
Listen, I might do those 5 things. I might employ those predictable regurgitations, such as practicing yoga, drinking herbal tea, splashing your face with cold water, and so on. I’m not saying those alternate activities have no value, rather that they are great additions to the coffee ritual–not replacements.
Because if you’re a coffee lover, a true bean aficionado, nothing is going to replace your desire to brew.
And why should it, really?
But seriously, a profound love of coffee is hardly a punishable offense. Much like everything else, however, it’s consumption should have limits and proper intentions.
For example, if you find yourself drinking a pot a day simply to stay awake, then coffee isn’t the problem–sleep deprivation is. If you find yourself experiencing severe headaches when you lack coffee, you may have a minor addiction that calls for weaning. And if you deem it acceptable to drink unpalatable coffee simply for the caffeine jolt, then an intervention of sorts may be necessary.
This is perhaps the most important aspect of acceptable coffee drinking: enjoyment. Liken it to eating a cookie or a slice of pizza; if you’re going to eat it, shouldn’t it be an amazing cookie? Shouldn’t it be the best slice of pizza ever? Would you settle for Chips Ahoy or a frozen pizza? Then why settle for Folgers in your cup? I truly believe that at the heart of consumption, quality is what controls quantity. If you’ve heard of my first bite rule, then you know it applies to all substances–coffee included.
Most of the blogs and articles aimed at replacing coffee assume that you are only drinking it for energy, or out of an unhealthy addiction. But what they fail to address is the pleasure that comes with each sip. What they overlook is the sensory satisfaction of smelling, drinking, and holding a warm cup of coffee. What they disregard is the fundamental role coffee plays in your morning routine.
When I wake up in the morning, one of my first thoughts is in anticipation of coffee. I come downstairs, fill my kettle with water and flip the switch. While the water boils, I drink a warm cup of lemon and cayenne water, then I grind the beans. When the water is boiled, I empty the grinds into the french press with cinnamon, pour the water over, stir and brew. It’s a methodical dance that sets the stage for my day. At the center of all of it is the knowledge that the first sip is going to be heavenly.
Just as there are a hundred reasons to quit coffee, there are equally as many to imbibe. Through research (aka science), coffee has been shown to:
- Lesson the symptoms of depression
- Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Improve athletic and academic performance
- Decrease the risk of skin cancer in women
- Reduce the risk of liver cirrhosis
- Provide massive amounts of antioxidants
- Delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia (both of which I am genetically prone to)
- Help control some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
- And more!
With all of these benefits in mind, it makes it harder to lambast coffee drinkers. And while these are all fantastic side effects of the beverage, the foremost reason to drink it is this:
Because you love it, and you don’t abuse it.
Abuse can mean several things of course, including over consumption, adding tons of sugar and cream, being unable to function without, and so on. But that’s the heart of it, really. Drink coffee because it brings you supreme enjoyment, it plays a part in your rituals, and it doesn’t control you in any sense. Drink it because it tastes good, because it gives you comfort on a still, quiet morning, because it makes you close your eyes and deeply appreciate life’s lithe pleasures.
Drink it because you want to, and pay no mind to the barrage of bloggers who want to convince you of it’s evil.
Brew on, my friends. Brew on.