Spending your caffeine allowance

This lovely little turn of phrase was stolen from Gwilym when I offered him a cup of the cascara. It sort of stuck in my head and made me think about how I choose and don’t choose to spend mine.

One thing I’ve noticed is that my day to day tolerance varies. Some days I can just drink a lot more coffee. Gwilym raised the point that sometimes work annoyingly eats into your allowance – you are working the bar and tasting as you are going to make sure everything is running fine, and then by the time you get a break and could sit down and enjoy a cup your allowance is all spent and you just want a glass of water (or weirdly I quite fancy a coke – which just makes no sense whatsoever, but hey ho…).

Three days a week I am out delivering or visiting customers and I taste at least one or two shots everywhere I go. As a consequence I’ve noticed I spend less time messing around and pulling shots for myself at work, and the most worrying downside of this is that I am not making many drinks at all these days. I am very grateful when people tolerate me getting behind their bar for a couple of hours and let me get the latte art eye back in. (It amazes me that despite understanding the process of latte art pretty well I can still get a bit rusty if I do nothing at all for a week.) Beyond this I can help but feel a little frustrated that despite the amount of espresso I am tasting I don’t feel I have developed my understanding of it as much as I want to, but now we are back in blend development so I can enjoy focusing on that again for the next month.

So coming right back to where I began – I worry that people won’t enjoy the cascara as much as they should because they’ll be worrying about spending their caffeine allowance that they’ve saved up for a cup of something delicious. What compounds my worry/frustration is that the cascara is genuinely tasty. I really did expect it to be a bit of a novelty drink, but I think everyone who tastes it reacts the same – very pleasantly surprised.

I’ve decided not to kill the blog, and I have a rant or two lined up that will appear in the next few days, and for the people who were asking about brewing the cascara – I will do a short video soon.

How do you spend your caffeine allowance? Do you worry about it as much as me? Leave me a comment!

12 Comments Spending your caffeine allowance

  1. Tristan

    I’ll vouch for the cascara being interesting. I think you said it when I tried it Jim, but the closest thing I can compare it to is rosehip.

    I was actually thinking about incorporating the cherries into a sig drink somehow, but have gone off the idea now because, to be honest, I don’t think the flavours will match all that well.

    Caffeine allowance? I usually live for the moment and try whatever I can until I reach the limit. Anything after that just wasn’t meant to be.

    I know what you mean about coke though, it’s one of the few things in life where absolutely nothing else will do.

  2. Marcy

    With all the comparisons of coffee often made to wine, do baristas not do like sommeliers or wine tasters and fall on the sip-and-spit routine? On my opening shifts, that’s what I do because there is no way I can drink 20+ double shots throughout my shift. It’s only when I actually take a break or finish my shift and sit down that I drink it… so I guess that’s how I plan my caffeine allowance (which is about 3 doubles/day). Although, there are times, when the shot is so exceptional, I can’t help but not spit and suffer the consequences of yet another sleepless night ;)

    I just wish brown lipstick suited me… there’s just no getting away from espresso-stained lips, is there?

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  4. Hugo

    In the last few months I’ve become a little over excited by filtered single origin beans…
    On top of that a nice man with a big drill took the base off my spare PF and I’m getting to play naked on my Plus4U and Mazzer.

    The upshot is I’m overspending like a loon in an effort to taste some of the other lovely stuff that’s out there…. is there such a thing as a personal caffeine credit crunch on the horizon?

  5. Maria

    yes, I think about caffeine allowance too. From a health perspective, you can’t ignore that too much caffeine simply isn’t healthy, particularly if you’re stressed out. Bad cocktail that is. Caffeine stays in the body for a long time – it takes almost 24 hours for the body break down the caffeine one cup of coffee! No one can survive on one daily cup of course, but setting a limit (as with everything else we consume) is sensible. And what’s more, it raises awareness of what (quality-wise) is in the cup and makes you enjoy that even more. That’s what I think anyway:-)

  6. andrew

    So that I can taste coffee all day I spit most of each espresso out, just drinking a little of each one.

    It is hard to be inconspicuous when doing this in front of customers though.

  7. Ishida

    Nice to see you back Jim.

    I thought I was the only one who had to drink some Coke just after a cupping session. It’s strange how I feel the need of a cup of Coke after I overdue my caffeine allowance. That’s weird… Is there any scientific study about it ?

  8. Chris D.

    I have found that the old banana trick has done amazing things for subduing the effects of caffeine on my system. Part of my job is to run espresso trials once a week for reformulation. We go through 50 espressos and I drink at least part of half of those. A banana in the morning doesn’t keep me from using the restroom, but it keeps me from climbing the walls.

  9. Cris Fuzaro

    I dont think much about my caffeine allowance… when i realize its usually too late…i’m already climbing walls!But i did notice it changes from day to day. About caffeine metabolism i saw somewhere that it takes about 45 min to kick in and the half-life of caffeine—the time required for the body to eliminate one-half of the total amount of caffeine consumed at a given time—varies among individuals according to factors as age, liver function, pregnancy, some concurrent medications, and so on…. and that in adults, caffeine’s half-life is approximately 3–4 hours… does anyone has any other info about it?
    Glad u r back Jim!

  10. Sebastian Storholm

    I’m getting more and more worried that something is seriously wrong with me since I have not felt much anything from drinking excessive amounts of coffee daily for almost 2 years. I just got into home espresso about a year ago, and since I’ve been pulling up to 12-15 double shots some days, with several additional cups of drip coffee on top of that, while other days drinking nothing but a cup of white tea. It’s quite disturbing to not get any effects (or withdrawal symptoms) while having a caffeine intake that is on the border to a harmful dose. Weird…

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