“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”.
This line from T.S Elliot’s The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock, sums up my life exactly, I am a colossal coffee addict, especially now with dissertation and summative deadlines building up, coffee is the saviour that galvanises me into action. My days are dictated by my coffee consumption, whether it’s the last heavy-duty cup to keep me eyes open at 4am or the first wonderful wake up sip, caffeine is always coursing through my veins. Nothing in this world is quite as sweet as that first sip, nothing as warm as that mug against your hands. Though many, many more cups will undoubtedly follow, that first sip of dissertation fuel is quite simply, heaven.
I’m not embarrassed to say I have a coffeemaker in my room, I have it rigged up to a timer so in the morning I am woken not by the droning of an alarm clock but by the gurgling of my marker (I aptly named Jeeves, in the picture next to my mantra mug) and the incredible smell of coffee. For me coffee is an escape, a chance to simply shut off for a few minutes and let all my senses be engulfed by it, I am often caught simply staring into the distance as the coffee whisks me away from the bubble.
I am not the only one with a coffee craving, in America on average people are drinking 3.2 cups of coffee a day and in Britain, we on average we consume 500g of coffee per person, per year. Starbucks dominates the coffee business with 16,000 shops across the globe, recording a profit of £148 million last in the last quarter, which during a recession and coffee being a luxury good is astounding. Within Durham alone we have a staggering amount of coffee shops, from the YUM cafes, the multitude of chain coffee shops to the more unique and far better coffees of Vennels and Saddlers, we are students under the firm grip of caffeine.
It’s not just us who rely on coffee to keep functioning, Heat magazine and other gossip drivel photograph celebrities drinking their coffee, between making tabloid headlines and actually working, most stars need a caffeine fix or two to get through. Famously David Letterman –host of Late Show with David Letterman- said, “If it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever”.
One of my favourite past-times is to grab a coffee at the University Library Café at 8:30 and simply watch as the rest of the unlucky student body with 9ams slump to lectures. They struggle with toothpaste as their only sustenance to assist them function though another hour of 18th Century Archaeologists or the finer details of fluid engineering. That’s where coffee thrives, at ridiculous hours of the day, whether it is a 9am lecture or at the failing moments of an all nighter it shoves your brain into motion, to squeeze some life into those hung-over or knackered out grey cells. People search for the answer at the bottom of a beer bottle or a wine glass, when in actuality, it comes from those last potent gulps of coffee slipping down your throat, warming your body and fuelling your brain.
Without a doubt Café culture is everywhere, in every city and practically in every street. However, it has undoubtedly slipped from the chic 18th century coffeehouses when they were homes to artists and intellectuals where coffee acted as social lubricant by which great changes in the world could be hatched. Now it has fallen to be served in plastic cups from McDonald’s that alleges to be coffee and acts as something to wash down your Egg McMuffin as you sit in the car before work, rather than to be enjoyed. We may no longer be Che Guevara sitting in a coffee house in Bolivia pencilling our revolutionary plans, but with the comfortable sofas and muffins the size of small planets thousands of people still flock to coffee shops to enjoy a few minutes away from our busy modern world and simply escape.