Death by Caffeine

(Click here for the online version on Malay Mail)

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 https://elviza.wordpress.com.

14 thoughts on “Death by Caffeine

  1. Elviza,

    Kekekekekekeekekekeke! I laughed reading the last bit of the post. If you need to check into rehad centre for caffeine addictions, I probably need to check 3 or 4 rehad centres for different kind of addicition. Ohhh life!

  2. It’s only your first month as a columnist, and see how far you’ve reached. Any idea where I can have kopi O and ubi kayu goreng bersaiz montel?

  3. Elviza

    I’ve been a coffee afficionado forever (aka ketagih kopi). Recently all the opprobrium that I have been receiving from non-caffeinated people were all washed away by Maya Karin in the latest Nescafe ad. I had been ignorant of the wondrous anti-oxidant qualities of coffee (or, is it only Nescafe Classic that has this quality?) … whatever. If it’s good enough for Maya (who probably got paid for endorsing), the, it’s good enough for me!!!!

  4. Elviza

    I’ve been a coffee afficionado forever (aka ketagih kopi). Recently all the opprobrium that I have been receiving from non-caffeinated people were all washed away by Maya Karin in the latest Nescafe ad. I had been ignorant of the wondrous anti-oxidant qualities of coffee (or, is it only Nescafe Classic that has this quality?) … whatever. If it’s good enough for Maya (who probably got paid for endorsing), then, it’s good enough for me!!!!

  5. What shall we order next?
    erm…mocha?
    …..
    whattheheck. i drink milk also. it is good for health.
    .
    .
    oh, no compensatory effect there?😀

  6. Elviza,

    I love this entry! I cant survive without coffee but mine is quite mild and sweet i.e. mocha. Even the baristas at our office’s cafe know my drink before I place them.

    But then again, if I’m back home it’d be teh tarik to go.

  7. Excellent piece my dear. Now I will wash away that guilty feeling whenever I crave for my second mug with another mug of, what else, COFFEE….. Maybe I’ll get a venti. I wonder if my maid knows how big a size is venti…”Tuti, Nescafe, size venti satu!!!”

  8. i remember asking the guy three times when he ask ‘venti’? i went wtf? hmm so not designer coffee fan but recently, power that be paid me in cash for saying that. i am now officially a lover of caramel macchiato @ starbucks. *grins*

  9. sengih2 baca last statement…Good one chelle!..my hubby sikit punya curios tgk i sengih2 siap “peep” kat my laptop screen…(hahaha as if i’m chatting with “anyone”) :p

  10. At least it’s better than being addicted to sex!

    Err… I’m not one, ok? But… why are my hands trembling? And a nervous tic … oh never mind. Are these withdrawal symptoms?🙂

    -Purveyor and Afficiando of kopi Tjap Kapal Api-

    (amongst other things, of course)

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