Hello. My name is Steve Ransom and I am a drug addict. I have been using for nearly 30 years, and my conservative estimate is that over that time, I have spent somewhere between 50 and 60 thousand dollars feeding my addiction. I have tried to stop. God knows I have; countless times. But I’ve never managed to stay clean for more than a week. I’ve tried to reign in the beast, to control the urges, cut down to using just once a day, but it’s always been an utter failure. Well, this is it. I’ve hit rock bottom. I admit that I am powerless in the face of this and I am seeking divine intervention. I am also publicly declaring my intention – I am quitting coffee!! Goddamn it why is this so hard!? Really, this is just getting silly now; it’s just bean juice for God’s sake. I gave up cigarettes about 10 years ago, and that was no picnic, but it was child’s play by comparison. I gave up weed more than 20 years ago and never looked back. I’ve kissed alcohol goodbye after a long and at times passionate relationship (it’s a Group One carcinogen people(1)), but this seemingly innocuous bean juice is the mother of all addictive substances, rituals and relationships. Am I joking? Do I sound like I’m joking to you? If you’re starting to think to yourself “Sounds like he’s got an addictive personality; I can quit whenever I want”, then I say to you…Ok, you got me on the addictive personality. But are you so sure about the rest? Because you know every addict that ever ended up in a treatment program, strapped to the bed and screaming at invisible monsters, told themselves every single day before they got there: “I can quit whenever I want – I just don’t want to.”
You know what the most frequently consumed beverage in the world is? It’s water. (All the Australians who just shouted out “Beer!” are going: “Oh yeah, that stuff… I thought you meant, you know…real beverages.”) Take a guess at what the second most frequently consumed beverage in the world is? (Hint for Australians – it’s not beer.) It’s…tea(2).
Coffee is the third most consumed liquid globally, and in both Australia and the USA it beats out tea for second place. That’s a hell of a lot of bean juice (technically, seed juice). It’s an 80 billion dollar(3) industry and world-wide consumption in 2013-14 was 8,700,000,000 kg.(4). Doing my own math and accepting that some of this coffee is not consumed in the form of lattes but is instead…I dunno, fed to cattle that are having trouble getting up in the morning, or frozen in coffee flavoured ice cream, that’s still like half a trillion cups a year(5). And why!? Because it’s freakin addictive as hell! Hello!? I mean come on, the stuff is worse than smack…although fortunately for me, it’s a lot cheaper.
So here is what I am going to do. I’m going to quit drinking coffee. After 30 years on the juice I’m going to go cold turkey. And I’m going to do it publicly, recording faithfully every spectacular temper tantrum, every relapse, every blinding head ache, and every death threat I issue to the neighbour’s stupid yapping little POS(6) dog that won’t shut up with the barking at all times of the day and night. In short, all the heartache, emotional turmoil and downright suffering that I am about to go through will be recorded right here for your reading pleasure, as will in the end (I hope), my triumphant victory against the cursed drug and all the lovely life lessons and feel good stuff that we all like so much. It’ll be just like one of those reality TV shows, but without the visual component…and also without all those annoying and self-absorbed gits…instead there will be only one self-absorbed git…and maybe I’ll stick up the odd photo.
Wish me luck. Tomorrow is day one.
Warning: Footnotes below. [Why do I have footnotes? Well, I tend to be insufferable and I find it’s less annoying for my readers if I bury the bulk of my insufferability(a) in the footnotes…’cause most of you won’t read ’em. Also, I’ve done most of my writing in an academic environment, and so I have a liiiittle PTSD that prevents me from stating facts without citation. Also, I do a buttload of research to make sure the facts I state are true, and I don’t wannta waste all that work. Also, the first thing I do when I read any stated fact on the internet is assume that it’s false, and I retain that assumption until I see a citation – despite evidence to the contrary I assume that others do the same thing. Least of all I do it for the traditional reason, which is that some people might want more information on a stated fact.]
1. Group 1. There is no higher Group. It is known to cause cancer in humans. The Big C. As classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. I’m not sure if people are unaware of this, or are in denial about it, don’t care, or just love booze a real lot. See: Alcohol and Cancer Position Statement of the Cancer Council NSW; American Cancer Society’s Known and Probable Human Carcinogens; the National Cancer Institute (USA)… or, just block your ears and shout “La La La” over and over until I go away.
2. This is a highly contentious claim, but I’m going with it. The web is full of contradictory information. Globally it’s either coffee or tea in second place behind water, and most sources say it’s tea. Coffee is definitely in second place in the USA, and probably is also in Australia. Coffee is worth about double tea in terms of global trade dollars, and also has a way higher volume traded per annum. However, as one needs less tea leaves than coffee grounds to make 1 cup, it is likely that more cups of tea are drunk globally each day. I did way more research on this than you’d think, and wow some of the absolute rubbish on the web…it’s like they’re just making shit up…most of the time. Anyhow, here’s the best single source I could find with working links to primary sources: The Pew Research Centre’s Chart of the Week: Coffee and Tea Around the World. I know it’s not great, but I’m not writing my friggin PhD thesis here.
4. No, I’m not even kidding. International Coffee Organisation; World Coffee Trade (1963–2013).
5. Yes I checked the math and it’s right according to ….Wikipedia…and some other sources…that probably also cite Wikipedia. But see above re I’m not writing my friggin PhD here. Ok ok, how about this one? The Roast and Post Coffee Company says 400 billion cups – rock solid source the Roast and Post. How about Nestlé – they say 800 billion.
6. Piece of Shit.
(a) Yes, I know it’s not a word.