"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

To coffee or not?


Okay, I realise that for many of you this question is a total no-brainer. But it's a little more complicated for me.

Learning to love coffee
I have an on-again off-again relationship with coffee. I came to my love of coffee fairly late in life, probably in the last 10 years. Before that I was a faithful tea drinker. I didn't drink instant coffee, although I always had it in the house for guests. I love the smell of coffee but I could never learn to like the taste of a cup of instant, so I didn't see the point. My first foray into coffee was properly brewed, by a trained barista, with amazing frothed milk. And it was very, very good. I think it was really the hot, creamy, coffee-flavoured froth that sold me. I learned to love coffee, and to drink it fairly regularly, but always from a cafe.

Our Aussie coffee culture
We have such a coffee culture here in Australia. We love our coffee. We "go out for coffee" or we "meet for a coffee catchup" or we walk the street with our takeaway coffee on a regular basis. Whether it's a short macchiato, cappuccino, latte, long black, long mac, or espresso, we do love our coffee. It's a big part of our lifestyle, no matter the weather. Let's be honest, a lot of Australians are coffee snobs! We want to know what type of beans the cafe uses! We travel to other places in the world and report back on how hard it is to find a "good coffee". I did this myself while in Paris, and ended up becoming a regular at Starbucks (uuggghhh) after giving up on ever getting a half-way decent cappuccino at any other cafe I tried.

But could coffee be a problem for me?
I stopped having milk in my tea a long, long time ago. But I still had milky coffees. Then a few years ago I started to notice some changes in my health that were a little concerning. Midlife brings some surprises that we might not necessarily expect, and I was on a quest to see if I could pin down the reasons. Long story short, it was a multi-faceted issue - the after-effects of sustained stress from a broken marriage, a long-time auto-immune condition, and menopause, were the main culprits. No real surprises there.

I gave my diet an overhaul and moved to a grain-free "paleo" style of eating. And I had some food sensitivity testing done to try and narrow down anything that might be triggering symptoms. Turns out I still had some really big problems in my diet - dairy, eggs and nuts being the main ones. But not coffee itself.

Is coffee in or out?
So that left me with some decisions to make. The main milk alternatives were not very appealing - I tried almond milk (yuk), rice milk (watery yuk) and soy milk (many of which are truly yuk). Then I wondered about the wisdom of continuing to drink coffee at all - was there any real benefit, apart from comfort, of course, and social acceptability?? After all, I can only drink it in the morning or I'm awake half the night!!

In the last couple of years I've had periods of time - several months at a stretch - with no coffee in my life, and have endured mild cravings which, after a while, become much more about the comfort and enjoyment aspects than any kind of physical craving. Then when I reintroduced coffee I changed to decaffeinated with soy milk and found a brand that is very palatable - in fact I can't really tell it's soy at all. Bit of a win there, I can still have my coffee. And especially because when I'm not drinking coffee, then the alternative is a weak black tea of some kind, and there's just something that pokes the cheapskate in me when I have to pay the same price for a mug of hot water and a few tea-leaves.

Still a suspect
But because I suspect coffee may actually be a bit of a contributor to less-than-optimal health for me (it's a known inflammatory culprit, after all), and because the jury is still out on soy, I tread cautiously with this one. It's easier to reduce my coffee intake in the summer, it's just not as appealing in hot weather. Once the cooler weather starts to make an appearance though (and early mornings are already becoming crisp), then I know that the temptation to go back to daily coffees will be strong. At the moment I'm limiting myself to 2 or 3 coffees a week, but it so easily creeps up.

I do hope I'm able to keep coffee in my life, even in small amounts. But I'd rather have good health!

2 comments

  1. I love coffee for the social chats that go with it. I don't drink wine, so coffee is my go-to for catching up with friends and for sipping at home. I'm not a coffee snob but I do remember how truly awful coffee in Paris was - who'd have thought? I hope you find your perfect balance - it'd be a shame to give it up completely.

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    1. Me too Leanne! I LOVE "going out for coffee" even if I'm not drinking coffee (but it's especially nice when I am). I hope I can keep coffee in too, at least every once in a while! Thanks for your comment xx

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