In Defense of Caffeine

August 5, 2013

Because, sure, your juice cleanse is great–and we’re happy for you, really. But coffee and me? We’re in it for the long haul.

coffee-cup-01

Written by Mattie Kahn

Warning: if you recently decided that chewing is secondary to your happiness, this article is not for you.

Similarly if you’ve ever had an elective colonic, or juiced kale at home, or detected a previously dormant gluten insensitivity (it’s a miracle they caught it when they did!), I’m afraid you aren’t going to like what I have to say.

Do you feel more alert as a vegan? Are you an ardent practitioner of facial yoga? Yes? I’m thrilled for you. But please: stop reading now. Close this pollutant-laden window and head on over to Goop.com, where a certain flaxen-haired, warm-hearted fascist will affirm your life choices and remind you to soak your almonds. Thanks for stopping by, though.

Are they gone? The Goop-ies? Ugh. Thank god.

Because if one more person tells me that she’s “given up caffeine” in the name of self-actualization or superhuman energy or Jessica Alba’s post-baby bod, I am going to scream. I drank my first vanilla-laced latte—that long-recognized gateway drug—at the end of my sophomore year of high school. Sickeningly sweet, dusted with cinnamon, and as toasty as Christmas Eve (…or so I’ve heard), the beverage was immediately intoxicating. Eventually, I graduated to iced lattes, experimented briefly with caramel macchiatos, and finally settled on my current ritual: a steaming mug—or three—of some nationally available dark roast, swirled with a bit of skim milk, a dash of sugar, and my eternal satisfaction.

As the Dunkin’ Donuts employee who takes my order each morning knows, I’m a girl of simple pleasures. I don’t need small-batch brews or steamed milk. I don’t need Stumptown beans or Café Grumpy mugs or foam art. On particularly desperate occasions, I have been known to tuck into even Folgers House Blend with considerable zeal. Accompanied by the New York Times or Gawker or an event as unremarkable as breakfast, I sip my vice of choice—in whatever iteration it appears—without regret. Like my mother before me, I relish this small crutch, and I refuse to apologize for my (let’s face it) addiction to the most marginal of all possible self-administered substances.

Besides, why should I? Science is on my side. According to research published by the National Cancer Institute in 2012, women who reported drinking two to three cups of coffee a day were 13 percent less likely to die during the decades-long trial than those who did not imbibe. Other studies have demonstrated that moderate coffee drinking also reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer recurrence, and Alzheimer’s. In other life-affirming news, Forbes recently declared that champagne may help “ward off age-related memory loss.”

In other words: drink up.

And yet social judgment in the face of Frappuccinos remains fierce! Despite such overwhelming evidence in its favor, caffeine (along with carbs and sanity) remains the favored target of it-girls, editors, and Vogue contributing writers everywhere. I can hardly open my web browser without confronting the harrowing account of some socialite du jour’s glorified imprisonment in the Swiss Alps or Arizona or Tulum, Mexico.

“I had a searing headache for six days!” this supposed example tells her reader gleefully. “I felt I might actually perish from hunger!” Also: her skin glowed. Her hair tripled in volume. Oh, and P.S. She lost eight pounds. But it really wasn’t about her weight. No, really. It was about “peace of mind.”

Uh-huh.

To all of them, let me make myself perfectly clear: I do not find your willful internment impressive! And I do not want to hear another word about your bowels. To be fair, it’s safe to say that none among us—least of all me—are strangers to the perverse pleasure of pain for beauty. In middle school, my best friend and I gamely invested in Biore’s certifiably medieval pore strips. (“You know it’s working because it hurts so bad,” I told Rachel solemnly as tears stung our eyes.)

More recently, I’ve dabbled in SoulCycle, stilettos, and a form of torture better known as Figure 4 Barre classes. I’ve forced myself into Spanx. I’ve studied for the SATs. Hell: I wax. But what I haven’t done and won’t do is ascribe to some glossy version of monkhood for the sake of self-denial. Life’s little luxuries—coffee and cabernet and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—are too delicious to resist.

And anyway, I’m an equal opportunity indulger. Just last week, I picked up a nearly $9.00 cold pressed “formula” from my neighborhood Juice Press. Horrified? Don’t be. What did I tell you? A little decadence never hurt anybody.

  • http://buckleyk.com/ Buckley K

    Love this article…and great timing! Just picked up iced coffee for our team meeting, always makes Mondays a bit easier ;O

  • ASULikeIt

    I raise my cup of black coffee to you! You not only drink, but enjoy a cup of simple dark roast with a little skim and cinnamon. It’s great that you genuinely like to drink it in its purest forms. I read an article in Glamour titled “What Your Coffee Says About You.” They’re answer for black coffee – boring. Boring?! Screw that. I’m glad you are “a girl of simple pleasures” who’s low maintenance and needs a caffeine kick to get going. Cheers!

  • Alice

    I feel like women in America have to dramatize everything. When I meet up with my New Yorker friends, their mouths drop a few inches when they see me ordering a super-size BLT that is obviously not organic: “But your BODY? the CALORIES! the horror!” The same goes for smoking, not exercising and drinking coffee. In Paris, there are no gyms and everyone is consuming the aforementioned products religiously and in New York, girls are doing the opposite while wanting to look Parisian… I’m coming to an obvious conclusion here.

    • http://www.foxyoxiesupernova.blogspot.com/ Oksana Radionova

      Girl, you need some new New Yorker friends. :)

  • http://www.asequinloveaffair.com/ Shira

    amennnnnnnnnnnnnnnn :)

    http://asequinloveaffair.com

  • Sonya

    I simply love you for referring to good ole’ GP as a “warm-hearted fascist”.

  • mariah serrano

    sipping redbull at work right now, this is monday people caffinate on

  • CarolinaG

    Love your blog!
    I’m posting looks from Los Angeles and accessories:

    http://www.thegavlaks.com

  • shauna

    Though I wholeheartedly disagree with the consumption of coffee with skim milk – you are pure genius in every other word of this post. You’re the cutest. xo

  • Chelsey Adams

    Thank you for this. Gonna go grab my second cup…

    what’s your position on those opting for coffee colonics? yes, it’s a thing. no, i don’t partake.

    http://chelseyladams.com

  • CDJ

    I love coffee. I love the taste and the fun act of “grabbing a coffee”. Caffeine makes me batshit CRAYYY, though. I can’t drink it if I want at least SOME eyebrows left. You feel me on this one, L? I’ve been known to have even THREE decaf cups a day… just like my grandmother.

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    Ha ha, I love the Goop comments! The woman actually terrifies me, as I do completely the opposite with my life (kids and husband often included): cafeine, sugar, no exercise, plenty of gluten… Fuck, I have 2 kids and I don’t have the time to prepare 300$ gluten free meals and exercise 3 hours a day so I can say I have the bum of 22-year old stripper!
    I’ll take another coffee, cheers.

    Mafalda ❤
    http://www.mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr

  • Wanderblonde

    Love this! Coffee over life.

    wanderblonde.wordpress.com

  • straphalariolist.blogspot.com

    Start in the day coffee is a pleasure. We need a shot of caffeine too.

  • Karenina Aleksandrova

    Perfect!

  • ashleymaciejewski

    I was drinking my first morning cup as I discovered, read and appreciated this post. Preach it, sister.

    concretewild.com

  • LEC

    my french-press is my ritual in the morning… not giving it away for anyone, not even Gwen.

    great piece.

  • Lauren at adorn la femme

    I thought I was the only one who glorified my coffee rituals!! Love love love this post and celebration of this divine liquid!!!

    (=’.’=)

    Lauren at adorn la femme

  • Sabaa

    Great article! I love coffee, with little milk and one sugar and couldn’t (o.k. wouldn’t) live without it.

    http://sabaaphotography.blogspot.com/

  • http://jessjoycej.wordpress.com/ Jessica Joyce

    This is such a great and elegant way of saying, “I FUCKING LOVE COFFEE.” And I fucking do, too. Love this so much.

    Your Friend, Jess

  • http://www.fripperyvintage.com/ Frippery Vintage

    I only gave up caffeine once for almost 9 months! As soon as I delivered I had a big Coke!

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    Couldn’t live without coffee!

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • John Bucks

    The day cannot start without caffeine.

  • the (un?)social butterfly

    “I´m a conservative asshole but the other guys are the fascists, ok? I completely disregard other people´s choices and make fun of their allergies, but poor me, I´m such a minority, I like sugar and ice-cream and coffee and I have no health complications that arise from me having those foods so probably the people who say they do are lying.”

    I´m not a “gooper” or a vegan or a celiac but sorry kid, never read a line as agressive as the ones you crafted in any decent vegan or health oriented website or blog. This post begins so ridiculously that I, who drink my espressos without cream or sweeteners, thank you, could not even bring myself to read it. You should ask yourself about what your problem is with living with diversity of choices and information.

    http://humanwomen.wordpress.com

    • Hedwig

      It was purely facetious and obviously exaggerated for laughs. Like you said, it is “ridiculous,” verging on satirical at times. Calm down

      • the (un?)social butterfly

        Hedwig, I really think this post is disrespectful. I don’t believe it gets any less disrespectful because it’s supposed to be funny.

    • Harper

      You really need to lighten up.

      • Sarah

        And drink up

        • Avery

          woop WOOP.

    • Oklahomie

      I have serious food allergies – including a moderate dairy intolerance – and sincerely enjoyed this article as a piece not based on science or meant to bully, but a light-heated way to celebrate one of the lesser vices we all share at some point in our lives. Satire, not disrespect.

  • Michelle

    Drinking coffee in moderation is alright, however drinking it multiple times on a daily basis isn’t going to garner any health benefits.

    • guest

      Research shows it does. I conducted a literature review regarding coffee consumption and health benefits. It has many. People who consume 3 cups per day experience better health benefits than those who consume just 1 cup or none.

  • Angela Duke

    This is too great and too true.

  • Angela Duke

    This is too great and so true.

  • http://www.lucidnewyork.com HandmadeJewelrybyLucid

    It may be just in my head but just by seeing that Leandra didn’t write this article, I don’t feel like finishing it. I know I should be more open but I’ve been reading this blog for a while and it feels I’m “set in the Man Repeller ways.”

    • Leandra Medine

      Mattie is this site’s locutionary knight in shining words, though!

    • http://www.looksharpsconnie.com/ Look Sharp Sconnie

      there’s always more repelling to do, babe. always

  • Olga

    Once again you’ve expressed my exact feelings in the most eloquent way possible.
    Thank you,
    Your Soul Sista

  • Sasha Jane Shanks

    Love this article, great read! Getting so sick of all of the organic/gluten free/fat free hype. I can’t imagine my life without sugar, so don’t get me started on that one….

    http://my-cupof-tea.blogspot.com.au

  • Paula McClelland

    Dammit Mattie, now I’m craving coffee. I don’t worry about “the health concerns” from drinking coffee and I too eschew anything (and anyone) remotely fadd-ish pertaining to diets and whatnot… however, what does sometimes concern me about coffee is all those takeaways cups, dis-guarded unceremoniously 5 minutes into their life cycle and left to rot in landfill… and one should demand fair trade beans… I need a champagne.

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.
    http://shoe-fiend.blogspot.co.nz/

  • k

    This article resonates beautifully with the “continual bathrooming” expedition one writer recently detailed in July Vogue. Much appreciated.

  • http://getsocialco.com/ Nicole Underwood

    ahahahaha! Caffeine is my true love. I’ve actually tried to quit a few times…I “may” have been over doing it a bit. But, now I’m down to a “regular” amount of coffee a day and happy as can be! Love this post :)

  • twelve

    Lady God speaks through you. Keep killin em girl.

  • BentonandTilley

    Holy bananas, I literally laughed out loud at this. I love me some juices, but life is short, enjoy the coffee!

  • http://www.anorexicescapades.com/ BougieHippie

    Hi, I’m the Caffeine/Sugar/Dairy Nazi!!!

    Clever post I enjoy when poor eaters defend their poor food choices well.

    Good Job, girl!

  • zoe_whip

    Don’t ya just can’t stand those self righteous skinny bitches that like to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be eating and drinking? They are the first ones to sneak a cigarette and/or snort whatever.

    Personally, I love my coffee. No, not Starbucks (they will do in a pinch) but DD (Dunkin Donuts. Besides coffee isn’t bad — it’s what you put in your coffee…

  • Life and Style Guild

    Affogato ’bout it. Viva la venti!

  • Louise

    Love the article. but it is really time you grow up and get a Nespresso machine (and no, I do not work for the compan or get royalties, I am speaking from the heart). Trust me, you will never ever look back (except for when in Milan, of course).

  • Jessica

    I don’t know if its because I hail from a less than forward-fashionable city in Canada, but I had no idea drinking coffee was now a faux-pas. What I can tell you is that as an academic scientist, NOT drinking coffee is a huge faux-pas. In my work circle, we regularly and loudly admonish those amongst us that don’t drink coffee as crazy people. Coffee is the best. Its that simple. Don’t give it up if you don’t want to. And certainly don’t give it up because its the trendy thing to do. That is just plain stupid.

  • Sam

    I think criticizing someone for choosing to take care of their bodies in whatever way they see fit is kind of fucked up though. I mean from both sides, if someone gives you shit for drinking coffee than they suck but you also kind of suck for being terrible about their body choices as well. It’s also kind of creepy how many people jumped into mob mentality and began to pick apart women for the choices they’re making.

  • Ellen Brennan

    I don’t know how I found you, but I will be reading your stuff, henceforth. And to all you older gals (no really, I’m 62) don’t let them convince you to abandon ship just because your adrenal glands are the black hole in space.
    Lover of the Ironic,
    Ellen B.

    • Sergey

      how about 4x pure expresso? not for “girls” liquid?

  • Aldomomma

    Yes, yes, yes! Coffee is the best! And I take mine with real sugar and half-n-half! Organic, of course. Off to get a second cup…

  • Erin

    So I juice kale at home and I’m obsessed with coffee– I don’t fit into either category, but that’s fine with me. I subscribe to a similar school: if you like something, do it. If it makes you feel crappy (physically and/or morally) don’t do it.

    On a similar note– I like my coffee with soy milk. I can’t drink dairy (read: feel crappy category above), plus it’s the perfect combo of flavors to me. I was given the evil eye at this pretentious cafe in NYC yesterday for asking for soy milk. Apparently, soy is the new devil in natural restaurants.

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