Sam James Coffee Bar
As time passes and the cells tire I find my vice count dwindling. Some things I’ve simply gotten smarter about, like smoking. There is still a Pavlovian trigger when I see an image or movie from France, Spain or Italy, but the desire to follow through and actually stick a cigarette into my mouth is lacking. Finally. I backslid a quarter-dozen times in the seven years it took to reclassify myself as a non-smoker.
Willpower and discipline are key in dislodging most monkeys from most backs. Getting obsessed about self-healing also helped. Learning that there is a direct connection between the health of my lungs and the health of my skin motivates me to keep tar-free. You could say Ayurveda and vanity are my beauty secrets. Yoga and Ayurveda have taught me a lot about how to manage my physical and mental wellbeing. I live and eat in ways that support the best health of my constitution, but with some vices like caffeine and red wine, I compromise.
It’s a compromise called moderation. I don’t have any illusions of becoming the sagest of the sage. I believe we’re spiritual beings having a human experience, and part of that experience involves certain degrees of hedonism. Enjoying good-feeling things, like sex and chocolate is part of the sentient experience. I believe in moderation for the very human and honest reason I cannot imagine a world without good-feeling things like dark chocolate or espresso.
I’ll talk about chocolate another time but the pros and cons of caffeine make the rounds regularly in health and fitness publications. So many opinions! My brother-in-law’s naturopath believes caffeine is worse than alcohol. A highly regarded yogi in new York is a self-confessed java junkie and it is rumored he doesn’t give it up even when he fasts.
Twenty years ago, in the infancy of my coffee addiction I got some sound advice. I was living in Paris when my daily habit started. During a debate about the dangers of caffeine, a Frenchman clarified in that imperious way the French have about all gastro-centric facts — “coffee is good for the heart, it’s that watered-down shit America drinks that is bad”. Being fluent I understood he meant that espresso coffee is good, and drip coffee is bad. This was good news for my future lattes, cafe con leches and cortados. To this day I only drink espresso coffee, but I actually have real facts to back up the claims of its superiority.
- 6 oz of drip coffee contains 100 mg of caffeine
- 1 oz of espresso coffee contains 40 mg of caffeine
- Robusta coffee beans have twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica beans. Most espresso comes from Arabica beans. The darker the roast the less caffeine.
- If you want to improve the antioxidant quality of your caffeine, 6 oz of green tea contains 30 mg of caffeine.
When I think of my coffee habit in these terms it barely qualifies as a vice. Even more so when I mitigate the caffeine by adding a pinch of cardamom to my espresso pot. Cardamom neutralizes the impact of the caffeine on the nervous system. Victory over vices is sweetest when you don’t have to eradicate them, just moderate them.