In Defense of Caffeine
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.
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.”
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.