Breaking Free

My father introduced us to coffee at the tender age of 2. We do not have tea, mind you, so in a similar manner, we used coffee. A splash of it in a bottle filled with milk and honey. To which my mother always attributed my good health. (Honey, not coffee.)

In Puerto Rico, coffee used to be one of the main exports in the past. We bragged because people would even drink it at the Vatican back in the old days. This contributed greatly to the island’s economy. We would drive past coffee production plants which created an aromatic journey through the highways of the south.

As I grew up, the waking up to school ritual was always started with that warm cup of coffee and milk. The aroma making getting us up from our comfy beds. Except for my sister, who rather have sleep over anything else. And so, I would not spend a single day without my first cup of coffee.

I dreaded sleepovers. This was because most of the time, I failed to realise my family is a unicorn amongst families. Not everyone drank coffee early in the morning. I drank water in the hopes to keep headaches at bay. A strong pressure, somewhat like a hangover, but not sure if worse. (I’ve had hangovers and I believe coffee addiction is worse. ) Then, after 3 hours of torture, we finally pass a drive through and I could get my much-needed dose of caffeine. Lots of milk and lots of sugar.

For 25 years I was ok with that one cup. Even during my studies, as no, I never had the need to pull an all-nighter. But then, I came to the Netherlands, where going out for coffee, I discovered, was ritualistic. People would not just simply drop by your house and hang out. You would make plans, appointments they call them, to have coffee and chat. I began to taste coffee in all forms and blends. I developed a taste for the rather strong bitter ones.

I started my first job as a housekeeper. I would use coffee to fuel me through each break. Horrible, from a machine, that kind. Yuck. I began to develop what would later become IBS. But I did not know this, and thus I kept on drinking. I even had a period of frequent migraines. Through my second job, I was trained in the art of coffee. And the fact that I could make my own coffee in any way I wanted from a barista machine, contributed greatly to my rapid increase in its consumption.

I learned to love and worship it. But my IBS did not. It got worse. And with it, I decided I needed to limit my intake. As I did more research into it, it was not good. First, I already reduced the sugar for a long time. Afterwards, milk. Which significantly reduced my migraines. They were still present until I got rid of milk entirely from my diet. At last, the migraine monster has been found and tamed.

I decided now to give up coffee for a while and see what happens. My headaches were gone after all. Now I could see if they were due to it or not. To my surprise, past the second day of no coffee, no headaches, no craving. I did want to drink something else than just water. So I began to drink tea instead. My caffeine intake was now the amount of one cup of tea. Which seemed to work perfectly.

Months later, I resumed my morning coffee out of sheer pleasure. Later to cut it again, this time full, no caffeine. I wanted to see how long I could go. And yes, 2 weeks before I had to do a week of night shifts which I proudly went through with just tea. It was either that or reintroduce coffee.

I realised I did it. I was free. I could enjoy a cup of coffee just for pleasure. I was no longer addicted. And though it took about 2 years since the process of trial and error began, it is finally done.

I still enjoy good coffee in good company.