Off Topic: Caffeine

Off Topic: Caffeine

As anyone who has worked with me for the past several years will attest, I have a deeply unhealthy relationship with caffeine. That is to say, get in between me and my several cups of coffee, or box of No-Doz, or cans of sugarfree Red Bull, and your working day will not be good for you.

So let’s talk about caffeine.

I used to work shifts doing one of the stranger, but fun, parts of my career. It was basically a job where I helped summarise the entirety of the Australian Financial Review, cover to cover, every night.

And when I mean night, I mean midnight. My hours were midnight to 6:00 AM; later on those became 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM.

It was great.

But Christ did you need a lot of caffeine to survive, even as a night owl. And I wasn’t the only one. I saw people sustaining themselves on three, four, five tall cans of V or Red Bull a night. Others mainlined green tea like it was a narcotic. Some just, bleary-eyed, relied on regular coffee breaks.

Substance abuse issues aside, caffeine is great. I genuinely enjoy the taste and buzz, whether it’s a hot cup of instant, a touch of coffee in a liqueur, some coffee grinds in one of my microwavable Nutella mug cakes. (They’re bloody great, just saying.)

What’s your relationship with caffeine like?


  • Multiple cups of tea a day, usually a can of coke at lunch. Had maybe 6 or 7 cups of coffee in my life, happy to leave it that way. Used to drink wayyy more coke, of the full sugar variety, at uni.

    Prefer leaf tea in a pot, but that’s usually way to much effort and mess, so I settle for teabags. My one requirement is that it has to be a big mug. Like half-litre big.

    • I’m with the Bat on the copious amounts of tea. Day starts with a Red Bull and top up all day long with tea. Second bull comes to play at 2.30!
      Kevin Bartlett drinks 17 or 18 cups of black tea per day, and he played over 400 games of footy.

      • I really recommend not drinking Red Bull or Coke, especially not on a daily basis.

        • Starting every day with a red bull definitely doesn’t sound like a good idea.

          I would think more sleep or a change of diet would give enough energy in the mornings to cut that unhealthy habit.

          • Working in IT half the guys would start the day with 1-2 mothers, the other half with way too much protein shake. God help you if you needed to use the toilets there after lunch. Bumsplosions galore. I hope the cleaners were paid well.

  • Dr Michael Mosley had a segment on one of his shows claiming that coffee doesn’t give long term drinkers a buzz it’s just they start lower than non coffee drinkers and it brings them back up to normal. Wonder if it’s true

    • Yes. If you are drinking more than around 3 cups of coffee a day that first pick me up in the morning isn’t giving you a caffeine boost it is just removing the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal

    • I’d believe that. The way to mitigate ADHD is to use a stimulant which seems counter-intuitive but really all you’re doing is bringing the body up to its normal levels so it’s not trying to compensate all the time.

    • Not true for me. I used to drink at least two cups of coffee per day plus maybe a cup of tea at night.

      Now I’ve been caffeine-free for about two months. For a few weeks afterwards I went through withdrawal symptoms, but after they faded I’ve found that I feel pretty much the same as I did between cups of coffee.

      I tell you what though, I don’t miss the grinding headaches of withdrawal I used to get if I missed a dose for 12+ hours.

  • It’s currently 11:20am and I’ve had 3 coffees. One at home at 6am from a coffee pod machine, one when I get into the CBD at 9am espresso, and one at 1030am which was a cold drip.

    I’m contemplating getting an instant right now from the work kitchen.

    • How dare you use the “i” word to describe coffee. Especially considering all that you said before it

      • Haha, I was just after the caffeine of it, note how I didn’t call it ‘instant coffee’ ^_^

  • Used to be 2-3 coffees and 5-6 cups of tea a day, then I had a holiday in the US for about 5 weeks and couldn’t stomach their awful coffee so went cold turkey. I no longer have any sort of resistance to caffeine, if I ingest any after roughly midday I wont sleep.

  • 3 or 4 cups of coffee per day – it’s still too much imo. But we work seasonally and in the heat of summer and cold of winter I need it to make it through the boring days, once we’re in full swing I don’t think I have more than the heart starter in the morning at 4am.
    During the occasional LAN I’ll switch from beers to Jack ‘n cokes.

  • Bought an Aeropress a few months back and it’s one of the best purchases we’ve ever made. Combined with a cheapo milk frother from Aldi and I can have flat whites basically whenever I please.

    Then I top that off with the occasional can of V.

    I’ve also got a substantial loose leaf tea collection but the caffeine in that is so insubstantial that it doesn’t count.

      • Tea is amazing. Tea is not an amazing caffeine delivery system. I am fine with this state of affairs.

    • Been meaning to buy an Aeropress for ages. I’ve heard many good things about it.
      But usually I just buy my coffee anyway. 🙂

      • My fiance and I drink multiple coffees a day. Since buying an Aeropress we’ve started drinking more coffee while paying significantly less.

        • My concern actually is if I get one that I will be having more coffee during the day. 🙂
          Part of the reason I go out and buy coffee though is if I didn’t I would be stuck at my desk all day. It’s nice to walk away from it occasionally.

  • I used to Have coffee all the time until one incident with no-doz. Then I couldnt have coffee anymore, these days I have to have tea so I have all the different varieties of tea. My workmates think I’m crazy to need that many different types of tea.

    • Ha ha, pretty much the same for me. I’m now on herbal infusions. Chamomile, Ginger & Lemon, Peppermint & Spearmint, Rooibos, Rose hip etc.

    • I am lucky to be in a workplace where most people drink tea when at their desk. We still get coffees from the (excellent) nearby cafes, but it’s nice that the office kitchen is well stocked with really good tea 🙂

  • Caffeine doesn’t have a huge affect on me. I once skulled a litre of iced coffee and promptly fell asleep.
    I have a cup of black tea at breakfast but it’s 50/50 the food or the tea that helps me wake up.
    Have a Farmers Union at workday lunch and that’s mostly it for caffeine consumption unless I’m drinking rum.

    • Iced Coffee in a carton has a comparatively low level of caffeine. You probably fell asleep because you just drank an entire litre of milk.

      • I had six cups of Turkish coffee or whatever it was, strong black sludge after dinner at a Lebanese restaurant with some friends. Then went home and went to sleep.

        Unless that has no caffeine in it, then caffeine don’t do shit.

  • I try to keep to no more than two in the morning these days.

    During my PhD, like some others, I consumed a significant amount during the final stages when writing my thesis.

    Needless to say the damage has well and truely been done during that time where if I don’t have at least one coffee in the morning I get phenomenal headaches the following day.

    • That’s the decision I made recently. Being chained to at least one coffee a day WITHOUT FAIL or giving up altogether. I’m currently two months without coffee (or tea) and have just about adjusted.

      • Good to see you’re doing well. In my case, it’s a deep seated addiction.

        While I don’t go crazy and rock back and forth looking for a fix, the headaches (resembling strong pressure headaches behind my eyes) make it difficult to do my work when they happen.

        I have tried other methods like tea, etc, but given the dosage I took back in the day I haven’t found a method to help wean me off.

        • Yeah, I hear you. I went cold turkey and I was non-functioning for about 3-days and felt like a zombie for about a week after that.

  • I have a small can of Red Bull or V in the morning as I don’t drink coffee. That’s generally the only real exposure I get to caffeine apart from the small amount you get in cola drinks, with or without a garnishing of alcohol.

  • Normally around 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Weekends can either be more of less depending on what I have at home and if we are doing cafe trips.
    If I am feeling extra sluggish during the day I might grab a coke or can of V with lunch but that is a once a fortnight/month kinda thing.

  • For the most part, I just show up bleary eyed and dead inside. I might have a coffee once a fortnight when I get to make breakfast on the weekends and I’ve got nowhere to be. Or if I’ve got to be at work early for public holidays I’ll grab a big can of the berry mother and then I’ll just sip on that for a few hours at work.

  • Generally my routine is caffeine in the morning during the week although some days and on weekends I have two. That’s my general maximum though.

  • Not a coffee drinker (the idea of combining water & milk always grossed me out as a kid so I never took it up)

    I get my caffeine from Pepsi Max

    • That’s precisely why I used to always take my coffee black – the idea of mixing water and milk… eww. Kinda got forced to grow out of that idea at Uni, when black coffee generally meant burning your hands/mouth during a lecture, so had to settle for something with milk to cool it down.

  • I used to be about 2-4 coffees a day, some coca cola or V/red bull thrown in a day.

    These days I run on about 1-2 coffees a day but that is dependent on my workload 😛 You really know I’m in the shit when I grab a V/Red Bull hahaha.

  • I would like to know more about these microwavable nutella mug cakes. I have no clue what those words mean together but they sounds delicious

    • Logged on to say this very thing.

      Hey Alex, you forgot to include the link to the recipe for microwavable nutella mud cakes. (Which would also be a great source of alert-making chems in the form of theobroma).

      • I’ll see if I can do it as a Facebook Live thing. I’ve been wanting to do some mug cakes in the office for a while.

  • I have a few cups of coffee a day, usually instant from the work kitchen. It doesn’t taste good but it gets the job done. I think it’s less about needing the caffeine than it is that making several trips to the kitchen a day perks me up and lets me change mental gears once in awhile.

    At home I probably drink a can or two of Pepsi Max per day, so I guess that counts too.

  • I used to make myself a coffee and take it back to my desk. 2-3 hours later I’d finally have a chance to drink it and it would be stone cold. So I got used to it, now I can’t stand hot or even warm coffee. So now I cold press (plenty of articles around here or lifehacker on that). Tis dreamy. Cold, black and sweet. Just like my heart.

  • Hard to say i don’t think it affects me all that much, but i used to go to bed every night as an early teen with a 600ml home made iced coffee (had 2-3 tablespoons of coffee in it), I was a fan of the viking bars when they used to have them but it was nothing to do with the caffeine and more i just liked them.

  • Normally a cup of instant with breakfast, an a latte when I get to work, that I sip over the course of a couple of hours until lunch. Normally curl up with a cup of tea to relax when I get home. Weekends is maybe a cup of tea a day in winter, otherwise they’re my caffeine-free days.

  • Trashed my stomach drinking vast quantities of instant filth in high-school; had to go cold turkey for 3 years with no coffee or booze *shudder*
    I try to limit my coffee these days so I make sure my coffee hits are good quality and fill up the rest of the day with an endless stream of strong tea

  • I love coffee; I even got a coffee tattoo I make my own cold brew and take it to work. ! I usually have 2 a day, but occasionally I cut back to 1 or none because the caffeine affects me less and less otherwise. I used to drink 3 a day but I’d get headaches without the one in the morning. I also used to drink sugarfree V like crazy but cut that out because the artificial sweetners irritated my stomach.

  • i’m not a huge coffee drinker, i have the occasional cup on a cold night but in summer i have none.

    Caffeine doesn’t affect me, i can have a can of red bull and it makes me sleepy.

  • Coffee (2, sometimes 3) in the morning, earl grey in the afternoon.

    Coffee when I’m tired gives me about 20 minutes of clear, useful thought, and then makes me sleepy, or jittery, depending on how many 20-minutes-of-clarity I’ve needed. Tea just makes me feel warm and satisfied.

  • Coffee is the best evidence that there may well indeed be a god, and he is kind. It is the greatest form of caffeine and we should accept no substitute. Espresso, Cold Dripped, Pour Over, Siphoned, Turkish, the variety of ways to enjoy this liquid treat is staggering. Yet there are those we should shy from, freeze dried and instant and that delivered in pods. Though I do admit I find myself at the pod machines mercy at work.

    While I care not for milk the vile cow juice that it is I will admit a weakness for the occasional Mocha, extra shot of course, as it wouldn’t work with just water and you cant taste the milk then.

    Furthermore coffee has some nifty health benefits to go along with its energizing wonder. protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart. True these are still yet to be fully confirmed but I drink coffee all the time and can assure you I have never suffered from any of the above.

    I really like coffee I guess is what I’m trying to say.

  • I love coffee, but people who have signs in their office saying “don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee” need to get in the bin.

  • Ha, last time I caught up with you, Alex, when we were both in Tokyo, you *somehow* knew where the good coffee was. Now it all makes sense.

  • I absolutely love coffee. Everything about it is great but i try to keep to one a day but because i work nights I’ve been having two.
    It doesn’t sound alot but i need a coffee to get me going and I’m definitely addicted which i don’t like so I’ve been considering quitting for a while but it’s way too hard haha.
    Plus generally being an anxious person i should probably stop.
    My Auntie in my pre pre-school days used to give me coke when she looked after me plus i used to drink the foam off my parents cappuccino so i wonder where my love affair started.

  • Never been a coffee drinker, and the way people talk about having 5+ coffees a day like they NEED to makes me glad that is the case.

    Although after getting into Comedians in Cars getting Coffee, It’s been tempting me more than ever.

  • Love coffee.
    I’m Greek so grew up with Greek coffee which is pretty great.
    My dad has it all the time and often in the evening after dinner so I had it with him. I can still have that and easily go to sleep so I don’t think it affects me too much.
    Despite that I try to limit to 1 a day. Occasionally that will sneak up to 2.
    There was a period when it was 3 a day sometimes because a mate bought a pod machine for work and he keeps it on our desks. But I haven’t done that in ages.

  • Two cups of tea a day at work is just routine for me. I may have a takeaway flat white once a week just to spice up my life.

  • I am pretty sure I have an immunity to caffeine. Back in uni I tried taking no-doz at the suggestion of someone, as a means of trying to prevent myself from falling asleep in exams as I tended to do in every single lecture. It still happened.

    At best, it’s stopped me from being able to fall asleep but still left me feeling dead tired, so it seems pretty useless as a tool. And coffee culture weirds me out, the way people in the office seem to need it to survive. Puts me off having it even more 😛

    I used to basically only ever drink coffee when I went to my Nanna’s place. Black, from the percolator, with probably way too much sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a generous helping of some kind of liqueur (sambuca, strega, fior d’alpe, kahlua, amaretto, this choc-mint one she had, other) from the cabinet. So good.

  • Just quit drinking coffee for my hernia/stomach/oesophagus. It sucks big time, I’ve gone from 3 cups to nothing. Hardest part is watching friends grab a coffee in the morning and at lunch, otherwise the temptation isnt that bad. I like tea more but I’ve never thought the amount of caffeine in tea is worth mentioning.

  • Relationship status : Unhealthy
    Worked a 16 hour day at a hotel down in tassie and had free run of the coffee machine that I abused maliciously. Things have improved quite a bit but it is still the fluid from which all motivation stems.

  • Coffee with breakfast before I leave home for work, coffee when I arrive at work before I begin my day, coffee mid morning between jobs, coffee after lunch, coffee when I get home at the end of the day is a regular occurance.

    Caffine doesn’t stimulate me though, I can have a shot of espresso and go straight to sleep, same with red bulls, vs etc, which is great so I don’t drink that shit!

    Best way to make coffee I’ve come across is the Aeropress, highly recommended!

  • I thought it was pretty commonly accepted that Red Bull consumption will hasten the arrival of the zombie apocalypse? That shit be evil.

  • I love coffee 3-4 most days, but mostly instant or drip filter. I periodically detox off it, and couldn’t drink it at all while I was pregnant. That was when I started drinking Earl Grey tea, and I still really enjoy that. I can’t stand energy drinks, they taste horrible. I also dabble in energy gels and caffinated electrolyte when going out for a long run (10km or more). For the record, the Endura Vanilla gel tastes like melted ice cream!

  • I find it odd.
    If you told someone you were an illicit drug user, that you need to have it to cope with your job/get through your day. That you need to take the drug pretty much as soon as you get up, and if you don’t have it you get headaches and withdrawl and are a turd to be around. That you spend a good amount of money on the drug and its associated paraphenalia.
    But also explained that you use it in a way that doesn’t affect you too negatively other than having to keep withdrawl at bay and the money and time it costs. Also that you enjoy hanging out with other users.

    Most people would be horrified and find it difficult to understand why you were a junky and why you wouldn’t kick something that punished you if you didn’t have it and cost you $$.
    But swap the drug name out with Caffeine and it is almost a badge of honour, and you will get complete understanding.

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