Working in the blog mines all day takes more than gumption. It takes, for most of us, some amount of legally available stimulant. Here now, our caffeine consumption: when, how, and how much.
Barry: A mug of black coffee every workday morning, or more recently a can of nitro coffee. Once or twice per week, when necessary, I will have an energy drink around lunchtime. I try very hard to avoid caffeine on weekends, in the belief that my body will “reset” and it will hit harder come Monday, but I am not always successful in abstaining. At least I don’t like soda.
Luis: My caffeine consumption is all over the place. Most days, I don’t drink any, mostly because I don’t like hot coffee and I am too forgetful to set up my French press overnight for cold brew. My main caffeine source is probably just from soda, or when I really crave an extremely large caramel frappuccino. I also like to pretend that I drink green tea instead of coffee, but that happens maybe once a month.
Chris: Three or four days a week I will have coffee in the morning, as early as 5:30 and rarely later than 8 a.m. I try to limit my intake to one mug, but also I have a 14-month-old child, and so some of these mornings I have three mugs. I almost never drink any non-coffee caffeinated beverages, and I make a sincere effort to take at least two days off from coffee every week. I went most of my life without a coffee habit, and for the most part without consuming much caffeine at all, so adding a lot of daily caffeine to my regimen in my 40s just seems like a bad idea, like my flabby and tiring body will become overwhelmed by this unfamiliar boost and suddenly crap out. I’m trying to regulate it!
Albert: Every day I drink a normal eight-ounce, coffee-cup sized cup of espresso, black, around 8:30 in the morning. I’m learning just now, via the internet, that a standard shot of espresso is around one ounce, so this means that I am drinking somewhere between six and eight shots of espresso every morning, which is alarming and now I’ve broken out in a cold sweat as I type this. Some weekdays I will have some more in the afternoon. On most Saturdays I will have at least a shot or two after dinner, which does nothing to prevent me being groggy and sleepy by like 9:30 at night. Lately on Sunday mornings my wife and I go out to breakfast and I have four shots of espresso and sometimes order another four shots. Oh god. What have I done to myself. Now I feel like I have to mention that I never drink soda or energy drinks.
Maitreyi: I have a glass of cold brew coffee (regardless of the weather) with a little skim milk every weekday morning, usually before 9:30. Weekend mornings, I swing by a coffee shop to buy coffee (not always cold brew; this is when I do consider the weather) before starting on a long walk. On Saturdays in the fall, when there’s a Michigan home game, I try to do this before 8:30 so I don’t get stuck in a ridiculous line. If I get stuck in a line, it will ruin my day. I don’t drink soda.
Drew: I have one cup of coffee in the morning and that’s it. Any more coffee than that and I morph into a twitchy dickhead. Sometimes I buy a bottle of Coke Zero at the store and drink it on the spot, more for the flavor than for the energy. On weekends I’ll sometimes treat myself to an afternoon cappuccino. On certain nights, I’ll treat myself to a decaf coffee after dinner. I frankly don’t really know how caffeine affects my circadian rhythms, if it does at all. But I’d rather err on the side of caution.
That’s at home. On the road, I drink coffee like it’s fucking Evian.
Lauren: I never drink coffee, because I’m built different. Sometimes when I go out, I’ll start the night with a rum and coke, for energy, and maybe a few times a year I’ll opt for caffeinated pop when I get a sandwich, for the sweetness. But other than that, caffeine and I are not on speaking terms.
Roth: We make a carafe of cold-brew concentrate once a week, which is an amusingly hideous ritual—a bunch of coffee grounds sulking fragrantly in a weird plastic thing overnight, then streaming or dripping through a cotton filter at maximum strength—that has become a load-bearing element of our home lives. I basically never drank coffee until I was 27 or 28; my professional underperformance to that point would seem to suggest something about how important coffee is to my basic level of function, or it would if my professional performance after adopting The Lifestyle wasn’t roughly as shitty. In my years of freelancing and (mostly) working from home, this has all become an extremely important routine—a cup of that coffee around 10:30 or 11, after I have been awake long enough to “deserve” it, and a few times a week another one, purchased outside the house, as another little treat. These mild incentives do not motivate me effectively, if I’m being honest; nothing does. But I also get very pouty if I go without them, or if they are disrupted for any reason, so I guess it’s doing something.
Ray: Two cups, cream, and three sugars because I hate my teeth, as my bride and I clean out a 12-cup carafe every day. I used to plow through a couple of Snapple lemon iced teas every day when they still made the glass bottles, but now that it’s plastic I pass because plastic has an aftertaste that suggests that it was run through a dog before bottling. Plus, the lemon ones are hard to find where I live because Snapple thinks people need mango as a dietary staple, the contemptible swine. My doctor is disgusted by all this, but there are very few things about me that do not disgust her, so it’s pot luck when it comes to her revulsion. Bottoms up, psychos.
Tom: Every morning I have an Americano with two shots of espresso. Then at some point between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. I have another Americano with two shots of espresso. That’s it!
Laura: I have a cup of black coffee every morning. Sometimes I call it my “move oil” just to be gross. If there is coffee left over from the morning and I’m feeling sleepy after lunch, I will have some more in the afternoon. The thing with my morning coffee is that after the first few sips (all that is needed for the move oil to do its work) I mostly just want to cuddle a hot mug, taking little sips here and there. So I will reheat the same mug of coffee several to a half-a-dozen times, usually adding a little water to keep the mug full. I don’t drink soda or energy drinks.
McKenna: I got a Nespresso coffee maker for Christmas and so for economical ($1 a pod!) and insomniacal reasons my current routine is just two cups a day, black, starting as soon as I can get to the machine. I only break form whenever 7/11 has one of those $.99-any-size specials running, during which I’m willing to risk carpal tunnel syndrome from working the espresso button on the automated industrial coffee maker till 24 oz cups are full. Those binges only come a couple times a year, so overall my consumption is way down from years gone by, when I would drink coffee any and all hours. Reduced intake notwithstanding, the last stanza of my mom’s favorite Willie Nelson song captures best my relationship with coffee:
You were always on my mind (you were always on my mind)
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind (you were always on my mind)
You were always on my mind
Justin: Some time during the middle of the pandemic when we were back living in Minneapolis we bought a drip coffeemaker. This was a big change because previously we just had a French press, which is fine, but you have to put in the work for it, especially if you want more than a cup between two people. I just want my coffee! And I want it now! So, now, most mornings around 10 I make around a half a pot of coffee and throw it in an insulated carafe which is technically for “the house” but ultimately results in me drinking it down one pure, uncut, black cup of coffee at a time between 10—4. In the summer I switch to cold brew, because I am a weather witch when it comes to my hot and cold beverages. This typically involves batching cold brew using cheesecloth and this whole distillation process, and … just reading this all now, I may have a problem. But not as bad as Dave, I think?
Diana: Once upon a time, I drank black coffee constantly at all hours like a real damn newspaper reporter should. But I’m not a newspaper reporter anymore. I gave up all caffeine early in the pandemic, but went back on the sauce (aka tea) while working on this story. So I have a cup of green tea every morning. I also have a cup of decaffeinated coffee from our Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker because, yes, I just like the taste of coffee and the morning ritual of it all. I might have a second cup of tea in the afternoon, after lunch, usually if I ate too much lunch to avoid the full stomach drowsies. As a treat, I might change out the green tea for a kombucha if it’s in the fridge because Mr. Diana buys them for me at our corner store. I don’t drink soda. I don’t drink energy drinks. I also do my best to drink 64 ounces of water every day. If you have any questions about tea, let me know.
Billy: One-and-a-half cups of black coffee each morning.
Patrick: I make a pourover in the morning, occasionally have a decaf espresso while the pourover is pouring over, and if I am ever tempted for more, I scare myself straight by reading Dave McKenna Slacks about his unholy consumption habits.
Kalyn: I bought my Nespresso machine and milk foamer four years ago and I love her so much. I drink one cappuccino from my Nespresso pretty much every day. Sometimes before I teach Irish dance and I need a treat and something to keep me alive for five hours of screaming kids, I will stop at Dunkin’ or Starbucks to get my favorite thing: iced coffee with cold foam. I used to order the cold brew with cold foam until I realized that every time I drank cold brew I felt like I was having a heart attack because it’s WAY too much caffeine. How do people drink that? I’d be shouting at the kids and unable to breathe thinking I was dying, but it turned out it was just the cold brew. Also, my mom stopped buying me any hot coffee drinks when I hang out with her because I can never finish a full eight-ounce cup. I’ll drink like a third of it, and be done and that pisses her off.
Dan: I basically drink caffeine during all my waking hours. I drink tea, soda, and unholy looking energy drinks. Just today I had two cups of tea in the morning—Irish breakfast, which the box tells me has five tea leaves of caffeine on a scale of 1–5—but this was not enough. I drank a Diet Coke at lunch. I am now drinking a Monster Energy Zero Ultra. I’ll have a soda at happy hour later, I’m sure.
I actually don’t know if I’m attached to caffeine or just the tang of soda and similar drinks, which I drank 10 billion cans a day of as a kid. I’ve been able to quit Coke, with moderate success replacing it. Ideally, I’d just drink black tea and seltzer water. Sometimes I slip up and drink a Red Bull or a Monster or whatever. I really liked this line of Coke energy drinks that seems to have flopped; they literally were replaced at Wawa by a Jocko Willink–brand energy drink. I tried it. It’s OK.
Like many other bad habits of mine, I’m in a good place with my caffeine intake until my heart explodes.