Jehan Casinader breaks up with his favourite drug – and wonders if he will ever feel whole again.
When Jerry Seinfeld created an online talk show, he dedicated it to three of his great loves: comedians, cars and coffee. The charming series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, has run online for almost a decade.
One by one, the world’s funniest people have climbed into Seinfeld’s passenger seat and embarked on whimsical journeys. The cars are sleek. The comedians are sublime. But make no mistake: they rely on coffee to keep those wheels turning.
Seinfeld discovered caffeine pretty late in life – in his 40s, after he had kids. “I realised, ‘Boy, this coffee really gets you talking’,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll do a show where you just talk with coffee’.”
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In one episode, he lambasts Seinfeld co-creator Larry David for refusing to drink coffee when they meet at a café. David holds a cup of herbal tea and argues there is no difference between the two drinks.
“You wanna know the difference?” Seinfeld blusters. “[Imagine] we go to an ice cream shop. You get a cone. I get a salad. That’s the difference. It’s the mood!”
He’s right. The mood of Western civilisation is regulated by coffee. Each morning, well before the hum of traffic envelops a city, the spluttering of coffee machines heralds the start of a new day.
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Addicts are conditioned to get excited well before they touch their desired substance. The crunching noise of the grinder, the clicking and clacking of the machine, the comforting gurgle of the milk frother – my dopamine receptors are being tickled before the cup reaches my lips.
Coffee is a wonderous, cheap, legal, widely available and socially acceptable drug. What’s even more extraordinary is that I existed for so long without it.
As a kid, I watched my parents drink grainy, bitter cups of instant Nescafé. A well-brewed cup of Dilmah tea seemed far more appealing to me. Throughout university and the first few years of my working life, black tea gave me a gentle nudge – but never a kick.
One afternoon in 2015, I bought a flat white for the first time. I was on my way to interview a boring tax expert at IRD. By the time I sat down, I felt like Bradley Cooper in the movie Limitless.
My mind had opened up. I was fully present in the room – hyperaware of my surroundings. I wasn’t thinking about anything else, because my focus had become razor-sharp. I could see a map of the interview in my…