What would a blog called Caffeine & Hot Sauce! be if there were no literal references to caffeine or hot sauce?
Look, caffeine is to me what gasoline is to a car: if I don't have any, I don't go. It's a blessing, it's a curse. I have an addiction to caffeine that I have tried to break in the past, but all it did was strip me of my ability to do anything other than bounce a ball of the wall for hours while watching The History Channel. Okay, so The History Channel is the pawn here; I still watch it to this day, much to the dismay of my lovely wife. But that's beside the point.
How did it happen? Well, I was living with my brother for a summer while working on campus as an assistant at their main computing site, in the basement of one of the larger buildings in the university. In the building's main lobby was one of the few locations that served coffee that was not a Starbucks site. We'll get into my hatred of Starbucks in a moment.
During my usual five- to eight-hour shifts I would drink from one to three twenty-ounce cups of coffee. Home by about four o'clock P.M. each day, I would then put on a pot which I would consume before my brother returned home from work. We would then split a pot (not to mention a whole pack of Ballpark hot dogs) each night.
After the first two weeks or so, I was able to close my eyes periodically. By the midpoint of summer I was considering mainlining caffeine to keep the levels up.
That fall, I was having trouble sleeping (in retrospect, it was merely a harbinger of my late twenties to present). I decided it was best for me to try quitting cold-turkey. Bad, baaaaaaaaaad idea. This was the point where the bouncing ball came in.
After about two weeks of being unable to function without double-fisting espresso, I gave in. Caffeine was here to stay. And I am now proud to announce that, due to my efforts over the last two years to at least cut back on the Go-Juice, the results from my last physical showed traces of blood in my caffeine stream.
Oh, yeah, that whole Starbucks thing. Coffee beans are roasted to bring out their flavor. You get light roast, medium roast and dark roast, with some variations on these. Then there is "Starbucks" roast, which I like to refer to as "charcoal dipped in battery acid and then tossed in crushed Tylenol." Starbucks has the most acidic, bitter, burned flavor I have ever tasted -- and I have tasted a lot of coffee in my life. The only reason it is so popular is because it was the first boutique coffee shop in the U.S. and, therefore, the largest. Had a place like Caribou Coffee been the first, the coffee scene would be wildly different and I would be a lifetime member, if not the majority stockholder. So, as much as I despise what Starbucks brings to the coffee grinder, I have to thank them for the fact that my heart has not exploded from the caffeine overload I would have experienced long ago if the largest coffee shop chain in the world had been something I could actually swallow without screaming.