At least, the first thing in the morning, it is.
I just don’t understand why it is that having a perfectly average 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night should turn me from a (relatively) normal and functioning human being, into an extra from ‘Return of the Neanderthal’ – and a non-speaking extra at that, other than the occasional ‘ug’ or snarl.
Of course, if I get less than 7 or 8 hours, then I resemble something that hasn’t even made it as far up the evolutionary ladder as the Neanderthals; some sort of fairly large and irritable beast with too many pointed teeth and a lamentable lack of patience, perhaps.
Just left to my own devices, this would not auger well for my marriage, my blood pressure, or even for the local society and environment.
But if modern medicine can work wonders in curing all sorts of previously fatal diseases, then caffeine of just the right dose seems to be the medicinal panacea for morning.
And being just a layman when it comes to the world of caffeine, I have a childlike wonder at its effects.
I am especially impressed by the strength of the espresso that you get served in cafes in Spain or France, and hence at its effectiveness. The customer crawls in and somehow climbs up onto a bar stool, using their final reserves of energy, croaks out a request for ‘espresso!’, then uses the last of their strength to lift the tiny cup to their lips…they drink…and Bingo! They leap suddenly into the air as if energised by a bolt of electricity, and then rush out of the cafe, singing lustily, to do a 16 hour day’s work.
And proper Turkish coffee, an extremely effective if much tastier substitute for asphalt, just has me in awe. Are there really people who are able to drink this each day? Every day?
I doff my cap to them.
I take mine a little weaker than that, I admit, but I do like it relatively strong, and without milk or sugar – exactly the way that nature intended it.
Naturally, instant coffee just does not cut it, although I do admit than it can be effective at combating fatigue; many years ago when I worked in the Middle East, I noticed that one or two of the men who worked shifts at our company would eat the occasional mouthful of instant coffee powder when they were tired, presumably to help them get through the following few hours.
But despite that, I just have not found an instant coffee that seems drinkable. Nothing can match the real thing, for me.
And lest you fear that I am doing myself irreparable damage by flooding my system with strong coffee throughout the day, let me just say here that for me it is an early morning ritual only, and after that I drink tea (a good Darjeeling, naturally!).
But now it is lunchtime. I have got through another morning.
Thank you, coffee. Thank you.
Where’s that damned kettle?