Sleepless in ruthless grip of caffeine

By Kate Stewart

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WHEELER DEALERS: Do you want a bike with that coffee? Bean dealers are everywhere as our caffeine dependency reaches epidemic proportions.
WHEELER DEALERS: Do you want a bike with that coffee? Bean dealers are everywhere as our caffeine dependency reaches epidemic proportions.

"F(L)AT white, full of beans, seeks tall, rich espresso for fun, frothy adventures. Must have a real thirst for life and great grinding skills. Take the plunge, let's wake up and smell the coffee together. Has beans need not apply."

Yep, a personal ad I quickly penned to demonstrate our continued obsession with real coffee. Coffee has become the new and true legal high of many New Zealanders; so much so it comes with its own language and culture.

Tasting it, making it, matching it ... it's as complex and as varied as wine and for those who insist on the best, it doesn't come cheap.

It's nothing for some people to spend $15-$20 a day, or more, to get their caffeine fix - an espresso in the morning, on the way to work; a latte for morning tea, then maybe a mid-afternoon macchiato followed by a creamy cappuccino for the drive home. There's no denying it, it's an expensive habit, with no shortage of addicts.

A few weeks ago I boldly predicted a new health concern, SFA (sustained foot abuse) or toe cram (sl) as it will come to be known. Hot on its heels, excuse the pun, current trends suggest that a new affliction looms.

CCD or chronic caffeine dependency has the potential to become the most unsightly of global plagues. Diagnosed addicts, aka Human Beans, due to high caffeine levels in the bloodstream, will litter the streets, suffering from self-induced insomnia.

With coffee prices continuing to rise, users will be unable to support their habit and, as is the case with most addictions, tolerance levels will increase. Where once a double shot would do the job, now the Human Bean will require a quad-shot just to take the edge off.

Busting underground plunger parties will become the focus of police and glue sniffing and huffing will quickly be replaced by snorting a line of ground coffee. Bean dealers will be the druglords of the future, cutting their product with all manner of unsavoury ingredients. Junkies will run the risk of facing jail time if found in possession of an unregistered coffee grinder or tamping device.

Due to the threat of armed hold-ups, coffee carts will become barred fortresses, each with at least one security guard and bean deliveries will come in the back of armoured vehicles. Meanwhile, chemists will be quick to cash in, ensuring an ample supply of a synthetic substitute, that the government will offer, fully subsidised, to low-income users looking for a weaning programme.

Coffee-growing countries will become the new travel destination hot spots and coffee beans, like alcohol and tobacco, will be added to duty-free shopping.

High-end beans will be smuggled and sold to wealthy collectors and bean dealers, and will be onsold for outrageous amounts of money. Coffee galleries will open, as will employment opportunities for bean valuers, bean forgers and bean critics.

Coffee will become the new must-have. It will be added not just to menus but to perfumes, candles, air fresheners and foodstuffs the world over. As a commodity, it will become the new black gold. It may even cause a war or two.

Sounds ridiculous? Even more reason to believe it will happen then. Ridiculousness we have come to expect as the norm these days. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Time to put the jug on. I need a coffee. Thanks again for all your feedback, keep it coming. investik8@gmail.com

Kate Stewart is an unemployed, reluctant mother of three, currently running amok in the city ... approach with caution or cheesecake.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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