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DON’T know about you, but I have many unfathomable addictions in my life. One of them is the copious amounts of coffee I consume daily.
So last Friday, as I was standing in line at Starbucks in Bangsar Village I, a sweet voice in front of the cashier stopped me cold from scrolling the handheld:
“I’ll have a tall, decaf, non-fat, flat latte, please,” said the lanky, pleasant-looking woman, probably in her early 40s, placing her order in a single breath.
Ah, just when I thought I would be minding my own business (which is not often the case).
“With a dash of vanilla, please,” she added while fishing for a wallet in the handbag.
And vanilla too? In her coffee? Curiosity now compelled me to find out more about her complicated drink.
My quick, nosy enquiry with the barista taught me a few lessons on Starbucks’ language. Let’s decipher her order, shall we?
Tall refers to the size of the beverage she wanted. Commercial coffee sold in modern day café comes in four types: short, tall, grande and venti… please don’t ask me to pronounce the last two names. Decaf means only a little caffeine exists in the drinks… honestly, why drink coffee then? Non-fat refers to the absence of fat in the milk added; gauging from her slender frame, she probably has never eaten anything “fatty” all her life. Finally, a flat latte is a very hot coffee without any foam. In other words, order this type only if you want to burn the tip of your tongue.
One question sprang to mind: what is it about coffee? I never knew it could be so adventurous. I began reading about coffee in earnest.
Records on the origin of the devilish little beans are aplenty. My favourite, however, is of an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi who found his goat dancing inexplicably around a shrub with red cherries. Determined to seek the cause of his goat’s euphoria; he tried some of the cherries himself. Kaldi then learnt about the “wake-up” effect the cherries had on his goat. Later on, monks at local monastery – in order to stay awake during prayers – exploited the instant stimulating effect the cherries had on Kaldi. Coffee was then born.
Caffeine in your coffee tickles the nervous and cardiovascular systems; it jolts the brain, sending you into an elevated mood. It takes the edge off fatigue and increases your awareness to the surroundings. The heartbeat, blood flow and respiratory system barrel along at an enhanced speed while the caffeine lasts. If consumed before sleep, it will turn you into an insomniac. All good news for the coffee addicts out there – at least for now.
Of course, the lab rats in health science won’t leave you alone. Medical research shows that dependency on coffee has an adverse effect on systolic pressure, paving way for hypertension in adolescents. If you insist on taking the dangerous elixir, you have to be prepared for the risks of getting a stroke or a heart attack.
Did I also mention that caffeine disrupts sleep patterns; causes tremors, nervousness, restlessness, irritability and even headaches? Blah, blah, blah…
Now that we know what coffee can do to us, what shall we order next?
I thought of plagiarising the immortal words of the late French diplomat, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, when I place my order at Starbucks tomorrow: “Coffee please… Make it black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
C’est la vie!
● Elviza Michele Kamal needs to check into a rehab centre for chronic dependency on caffeine. She blogs at http://elviza.wordpress.com.