It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning.

And it’s the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night as I prepare the pot for the next day’s dose.

Like anything else in life that is amazingly good, one can consume too much, not enough, or just the right amount. (I guess Goldilocks had it right the whole time)

This is how I use the amount of coffee I drink as an indicator of the priorities in my life:

1. Too much coffee: Can there be such a thing as too much coffee??!! Yes, there can. When I think of someone who drank too much coffee, I think of my creepy middle school band teacher who always had a cup o’ joe in his hand and the smell of burnt coffee on his dry breath. I would practice my clarinet so much so I wouldn’t mess up in class for fear Mr. Woodworth would walk up to me in class, lean in real close, and tell me with his smelly breath that I messed up. I’m not kidding. He had quite the pot belly, too. When bored, I would imagine that if I stuck a needle in his belly, coffee would sprout out.

I do not want to become that person.

More than 2 cups is too much for me, and that’s when I stop myself and think of Mr. Woodworth. I think Mr. Woodworth drank too much coffee because he was bored with his job. But for me, too much coffee usually means I am overworking myself, and I need to get more sleep. The time in my life when I drank too much coffee was during grad school. I drank coffee for the energy to study. I would drink it morning, noon, and night. I didn’t even stop and enjoy it really; I just drank it as a drug to stay awake and alert. So if I am tempted to reach for that third cup, I remind myself to slow down.

Studying over coffee

2. Not enough coffee: Aside from the times when I used coffee as a drug to stay awake and alert, I love the experience of sipping coffee. My earliest memory of coffee is watching my mom sip it in the morning when I would get ready for school. She would wake us up, help us get our breakfast and lunches ready, then sit in her robe and sip coffee. She would hold her mug with two hands, keeping it close to her mouth. I asked her once why she held her coffee to her mouth when she wasn’t drinking it, and she said, “Because I love the smell of it.” I would board the bus, turn around and wave to mom, and she would smile over her coffee mug. At an early age, I couldn’t wait to be an adult and enjoy coffee. I recognized that sipping coffee was an experience to be savored and appreciated. Now, as an adult, I often find myself running out the door in the morning without my morning coffee because there are thingsineedtodo and peopleineedtosee. That’s when I think of my mom on our early school mornings and remind myself to slow down.

3. Just the right amount of coffee: If I am drinking just the right amount of coffee, I am able to sit, sip, and simmer. The experience of 1-2 cups of coffee provides time for a good conversation with a friend, the formation of a new idea, or the necessary closure to an ongoing thought. When I am drinking 1-2 cups a day, I am spending the right amount of time in purposely purposeless thought.

After all, it’s the subtle nuances of everyday life that should be appreciated over a cup of coffee. So when I am so busy that I need coffee as a drug to stay awake, or so busy that I don’t have time to enjoy the experience of coffee, I remind myself to stop and smell the coffee to fully appreciate life.

Coffee on Folly Beach

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