Coffee is so good.

In addition to being physiologically and emotionally dependent on caffeine, I genuinely enjoy coffee. I have accumulated too many coffeemaking implements over the years, including but not limited to a French press, burr grinder, espresso machine, pourover cone, cold brew system, and probably others I’m forgetting that I use less frequently and are collecting dust in a cabinet. I started drinking coffee in college, mainly out of curiosity—I had a friend who said they couldn’t function without coffee, though I perceived them as a very functional person, and I thought, “hey, college is the time when you experiment with drugs, right? Let’s give this a whirl.” I really knew how to party back then. (My idea of a good weekend when I was in college was waking up at 7 am and spending the morning in the main library, then spicing it up in the afternoon to go to a different library, then going back to my dorm to watch Netflix DVDs and explore the internet for hours.)

Anyway, coffee. I started drinking huge cups of black coffee off the bat, but I wasn’t really a regular coffee drinker until medical school. I don’t particularly remember having a coffee routine per se, but I do remember going to a lot of different coffee shops and settling on my regular favorites. I also remember afternoon coffee naps, where I would chug an iced coffee then quickly fall asleep on the couch until the caffeine hit and woke me up so I could study. (I know. Party animal.)

Residency was my time of peak coffee consumption, and the time when my dependency was locked in. I would wake up around 5:20 am to a blaring alarm, make an espresso, down it, throw on some scrubs and ride my bike to the hospital in time for rounds at 6 am. Then by the time OR cases started at 7:30 am, I would be ready for another cup. If I was on overnight call, it wouldn’t be unusual for me to consume up to 6 cups of coffee over the course of 24 hours. Yikes.

Post-residency, when I really started prioritizing my health, there was a period of time where I decided I wanted to kick the caffeine dependency, mainly to see if I could actually do it. Over the course of about 6-8 weeks, I gradually and methodically cut down my coffee consumption to zero, replaced it with black tea during the tapering period, and eventually got to a point where I would wake up without a caffeine withdrawal headache and just drink water.

That felt like an accomplishment and I’m glad I proved I could do it, but… coffee is just so good. And fun to make. And makes my brain feel nice. So I restarted my daily habit and haven’t looked back since. These days, I enjoy the equivalent of one caffeinated cup of coffee every morning, usually an espresso but sometimes a pourover on weekends, or a cold brew if I’m on my morning walk in the park (some genius put a coffee stand IN the middle of the park, which is dangerous because usually I’ll have already had my coffee at home).

My new thing lately is decaf cold brew concentrate. It’s hard to find good quality whole decaffeinated beans, but they’re around. Irving Farm has a particularly good bag called Decaf Blackstrap, which also makes a nice decaf espresso. I’ll treat myself to a decaf iced cold brew in the afternoon, when I have the post-lunch sleepies. (Obviously I still know how to party hard, like in my college days.)

Coffee is so good!