At an average of 4.15 for my hot beverage, and at two a day – I was spending 3, 021 euros and 20 cents on coffee annually. All of this money was going to a very well-known coffee chain, the shock, the horror. This expenditure doesn’t include the jars upon jars of instant coffee I have stocked in my press at home. Yes, admitting you have a problem is the first step. I was certainly ready to break the cycle by the time this project came along.
In my grand-mother’s twenties, they didn’t have the notions we have today. There was no Frappuccino this and macchiato that. It was tea and coffee, the end. Coffee is now a part of our eco-system. It doesn’t feel right to go meet a friend without a hot drink in hand, regardless of the hysterically high prices.
I ask my nana about their social slurps of choice. “We didn’t have a disposable income, but we drank a lot of tea. If you wanted a fancy coffee, you could add coffee essence to hot milk.” The idea that there was no array of hipster coffee places in my nana’s day is bewildering to me. I recently came across a stall that was doing “deconstructed coffee” in which they pressed the beans through funnels and dripped the coffee through various filters. By the time I got the coffee, it was cold, but I enjoyed the show.
Notions and millennials go hand in hand. There is no such thing as having a green tea OR a coffee now, because you can get a green tea matcha, a.k.a florescent seaweed coloured steamed milk. We as an age group buy into all of these gimmicks because they add to our aesthetic. Our aesthetic that we so perfectly curate when we get up in the morning. It’s scary to think now, of the 3, 021 euros and 20 cent I was spending on my notions annually. My love for pretentious coffee equated to 255 hours of work. I shudder at the thought.
The first day was rough, I would never lie about that. I had a feeling all day that I needed to lie down. That’s when I realised that I was on a sugar spin every time I had one of my coffees. I tried to keep my cravings at bay by doing some research on the ingredients. Most coffee chains add four pumps of coffee syrup to each cup. That applies to all flavours, whether it be vanilla, hazelnut, caramel or even pumpkin spice. Those four pumps equate to SIX teaspoons of cane sugar. The women’s recommended daily sugar intake is 20 grams. The syrup we request for one coffee amounts to 19 grams.
Each day, for the last year, I have been consuming 38 grams of sugar and that is just in two cups of coffee. The sheer thought of that makes me queasy. While the challenge was difficult, it was eye opening. I have become more mindful about my sugar intake at an alarming rate. I have lost sight of the positives associated with fancy coffees. I didn’t visit the chain I used to frequent twice daily for the entire month, by choosing to support local businesses, I could see that my former spot was actually quite lifeless, in interior and atmosphere.
My nana referred to her love for people watching in our interview together. She particularly loves Bewley’s. With that in mind, I tried to spend more time people-watching and less time power walking with a takeaway cup. It amazes me how making the effort to spend time as opposed to rushing through it makes a complete difference to your mindset.
I was starting to properly taste my coffees and appreciate the undertones of the different brands on offer as opposed veiling this taste with sugar. I also began to spend time, as my grand-mother did when she was 23, people watching. When your face isn’t buried in your phone and you use your day mindfully, you never know what could happen. Sitting outside one particular café when I was having a nice cup of sensible tea; I was approached by a man, who wanted to tell me that he really liked my style and he hoped I had a nice day. He wasn’t hitting on me. He was just being nice. By opening ourselves up to the world and spending more time appreciating our time as opposed to merely living through it, we open ourselves up to new people and experiences.
With my nana’s words in mind. I started not only looking at people but also places. I turned down the music on my earphones and started paying attention to my surroundings and the components within my surroundings. That’s when I noticed the birds singing and the sun rising. That’s when I noticed that you can see the Dublin Mountains on the horizon on my walk to work. I started appreciating the architecture of my city more. I started feeling more inspired by the art that is the concrete jungle in which I live. Most importantly, I rid myself of the desire to fill up on 38 grams of sugar a day, a daily habit that coincided with my strawberry rice pudding. My next feat? Keeping my healthy trend maintained. Perhaps in future, I can swap to the new healthy hype of Turmeric Lattes – but made at home, with love and no notions.