On Addiction: An Announcement

For the very first time I am tackling a serious issue in this blog with all due respect and solemnity. I do announce in public:

“I am going to reduce my consumption in coffee.”

The magic of that morning cup of coffee

“The magic of that morning cup of coffee” (Wikimedia). I am going to renounce it!

As we have learned goals should always be defined in a SMART way I should probably add more specifics, but I cannot add precise numbers yet as they will depend on the outcome of long-term experimental results. But I am getting ahead of myself.

My consumption of coffee has been legendary ever since. I am a walking nerd cliché, my nutritional habits are deeply rooted in geek culture. Think: spending long days in air-conditioned data centers, your brilliant hacker mind fueled by pizza and caffeine only.

As a physicist I prefer scientific explanations and I am impressed by numbers. Probably my corporate worker legacy adds to my obsession with metrics, too. It was a number that gave me permission to consume insane quantities of coffee – my blood pressure used to be abysmal. As an undergraduate I had once fainted in the street, after having queued up in a shop tightly stuffed with winter sale addicts like me. The doctor gave me precious advice – let’s avoid medication, just drink enough coffee. (And I shun sale since then).

As an engineer I am also obsessed with monitoring complex hydraulic systems, and I have finally applied the same standards to monitoring blood pressure:


The Steampunk version of the device used to measure blood pressure (Sphygmomanometer). I am using the modern version.

And now the issue is: I have aced the tests, my numbers are just perfect. No excuses any more.

Actually, the blogosphere had already sent me a signal before – I had also been inspired by this post by Samir Chopra and the numbers had only been the final trigger. However, I am not applying the cold turkey approach, I am going to cut coffee slowly while monitoring blood pressure closely.

I am still searching for the perfect replacement / placebo. Green tea would be my first choice, although it contains caffeine.

And if I fail, I can blame culture and peer pressure: Wikipedia tells me I am living in a country of coffee addicts:

Wikipedia: Countries ranked by coffee consumption per capita

Wikipedia: Countries ranked by coffee consumption per capita (Archived link – detected as broken some years after this article was written).

14 thoughts on “On Addiction: An Announcement

  1. Where i’m from orange pekoe tea was always the drink of choice. These days coffee is king, but not for me. Nothing like a good cuppa with a bit of sugar…a bit…and either milk or lemon.

    • Thanks – needed to google orange pekoe ;-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_leaf_grading#Orange_pekoe
      Re milk or lemon: I have just read that the smallest addition of milk would eventuelly kill some of the positive ingredients of tea (green tea actually). But this seems to be quite complicated anyway – as all discussions on nutritional questions. You can always find some scientific results that will support your bias ;-)

        • But with tea it is easier to pretend your interests are nutritional, or even “philosophical”, as tea is so Zen :-) As a (former, hopefully) coffee drinker I have to call myself addicitve.

      • I was startled to learn (in books about chocolate, tea, and caffeine, and sometimes more than one of those at once) that even what would seem like a simple idea like “the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee” isn’t very precisely measured. I am more a tea drinker (I usually order coffee when I misheard the question) but I suspect most of the nutritional information on that is similarly not so precisely known as the labels would like us to think.

        • True – I did some “research”, that is googling for caffeine for a few minutes. The contents should rather be reflected by a very broad probability distribution. For tea, it seems to depend on the exact brewing conditions, for Coke it’s a delta function though, due to the standardized manufacturing conditions, I guess.

  2. I got offered coffee for breakfast by my parents everyday, from the age of … as far as I can remember. But I stopped drinking coffee when around the age of 15.
    Nowadays, I only drink it (2 at once) when I wake up too early, like this morning, or when I need an extra boost in the early afternoon. Pepsi has no effect at all, except on very yound children.

    • Interesting! I can just remember that I had eagerly awaited the moment I was finally old enough and permitted to drink coffee. I guess I liked the smell ever since. Yes, Coke does not contains a lot of caffeine according to my superficial research.

    • I was surprised, too – not sure how serious this ranking is. My theory on the top ten is that people from Northern countries need to compensate for the months without sun, then there are some high ranked countries that have made coffee a cult ;-) as Austria or Italy.

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